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WMATA Completes US$176-Million Escalator Overhaul

In November 2019, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced the completion of a US$176-million, multiyear escalator overhaul that included 145 new units, The Washington Post was among news outlets to report. The last escalator replaced in the project was at Court House Station, marking a milestone for a journey that began after an escalator malfunction at L’Enfant Plaza injured several people in 2012. WMATA observed the fnal new escalator was placed in service about a month ahead of schedule by contractor KONE. In addition to 145 new escalators, 153 units received new motors, steps, handrails, safety devices and electrical systems. WMATA has also been installing canopies over station entrances where escalators are exposed to the elements. As of November 2019, eight had been installed, and six are planned at the Smithsonian, Judiciary Square, Archives, U Street and Arlington Cemetery stations.

Elevators Bring Philadelphia Station Into ADA Compliance

In October 2019, outgoing Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) General Manager Jef Knueppel welcomed improvements to Philadelphia’s 15th Street Station, including two glass-walled elevators (ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2018) that bring the station into Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, WHYY reported. The busiest stop on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line, the station now has elevators on both sides of 15th Street, meaning riders in wheelchairs, pushing strollers or with other mobility challenges can access fare lines and platforms without crossing the street. Nearly all stops (26 of 28) on the Market-Frankford line are now ADA compliant. Along with the elevators, the station was outftted with new signage and glowing vintage maps  designed by world-famous artist Ray King.

ADA-Accessible Elevators for 48 MTA Subway Stations

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has named the frst 48 of 70 subway stations set to receive elevators and other ADA upgrades as part of its proposed US$51.5-billion 2020-2024 capital plan, AM New York reported in October 2019. NYC Transit President Andy Byford called the plan a “terrifc frst step” toward making all 472 MTA subway stations ADA compliant. Approximately one-fourth are accessible now. More than US$5 billion has been set aside for elevators that will make stations wheelchair accessible; the frst 48 include 12 in Manhattan, 21 in Brooklyn, six each in the Bronx and Queens and three on the Staten Island Railway. The MTA plans to use community feedback to make determinations on the remaining stations. A list of the selected stations is available at ny.gov.

Curbed New York reported that the US$51.5-billion plan represents the largest investment in MTA history. Under the proposal, the subway system (including the Staten Island Railway) would receive the largest portion — US$37.3 billion — which would address not only accessibility issues, but also other station improvements, signal modernization along six lines, the purchase of 1,900 new cars and track replacement. In addition, funding would go toward renovating 175 stations in projects that include elevator and escalator replacements.

In another development, The City reported in November 2019 that costs were up sharply on a study that aims to put a price tag on making the entire subway system accessible. Documents show that the budget for the study, originally set at US$10 million, jumped some 70% to US$16.9 million. It was launched in February 2018 under MTA’s 2015-2019 capital plan, with consulting frm Stantec examining a dozen stations, but the scope was broadened to look at all the system’s inaccessible stations. Three more consulting frms were brought in to work on the study, which was supposed to be complete by the end of 2019.

Construction Starts on Minneapolis’ Tallest Residential Tower

Construction is underway on Minneapolis’ Eleven, which, at 41 stories, will be the tallest residential tower in the Twin Cities (ELEVATOR WORLD, May 2018), Multi- Housing News reported in October 2019. Almost US$190 million in fnancing, which set a state record, allowed construction to start. Robert A.M. Stern, a frm responsible for high-profle residential towers in cities like NYC and Chicago, designed Eleven, which will ofer 118 luxury condominiums and a generous amenities package.

Developers are Luigi Bernardi of Arcadia LLC and Ryan Cos. The development will include 17 penthouses with private terraces. Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty is handling sales, with prices starting at US$900,000.

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