Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We Can Put a Man on the Moon, but ...

From CS:
On Metro's western frontier, at Vienna station, is a small construction project that once again shows how calcified the transit system has become.

To ease platform crowding, Metro is adding a stairway to supplement the existing escalators. Good idea. But here's the catch -- workers began the project last summer. It has now dragged into its seventh month, and only in recent days has it begun to resemble something looking like a staircase.

For a long while, nothing happened, and then progress halted for another long stretch after support piers finally got installed. At this rate, it looks like it'll be a year-plus before things wrap up.

By contrast, consider:

-- In New York City, workers have been adding an entire floor per week to the new World Trade Center tower.

-- In Vermont, the state recently took only four months to repair 500 miles of roadways damaged after flooding from Hurricane Irene last year.

-- In DC (DC?!), the school system recently rebuilt in a year an entire school destroyed by fire. (With three stories, the school presumably has a number of stairways.)

This tale is also more than just yucks about another display of Metro ineptitude -- it's about safety, too. With construction fencing surrounding the work site, passengers are forced to walk uncomfortably close to the platform edge. When trains come rushing in, it feels like it wouldn't be hard to get sucked over the edge.

Metro's not-so-transformative general manager, Richard "Dick" Sarles, likes to talk about how years of neglect mean that fixing Metro's problems won't be free. Well, as the Vienna saga shows, it's about more than money, too. It's about management.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe this job isn't such a big deal. But it just shouldn't take a year to build a set of stairs.

(P.S. The other thing that's nice? When workers do show up, they park oh-so-Metro -- on the sidewalk in front of the station.)
Other items:
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Va. considering limiting forced use of union labor to curb Dulles rail costs (WTOP)
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