WASHINGTON -- Dupont Circle commuters are enduring the last few days of unreliable escalators at the Metrorail Red Line station's south entrance -- and enjoying the last few days of using that busy entrance.
Starting next Wednesday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will shutter the escalators connecting the station to 19th Street NW so the custom-built British moving stairways there, which have one of the highest failure rates in the rail system, can be totally replaced.
The closure will last at least eight months.
An average of 23,000 weekday passengers who travel through Dupont's south portal will need to alter their commuter routes. The transit agency has been on a public relations blitz all month, warning customers of the impending closure with electronic signage, banners, videos, social media outreach and pamphlets explaining why the entrance must shut down for such a long time and how commuters can navigate around the closure.
The Huffington Post spoke with individuals who use Dupont's south entrance and found that most were aware of the closure. But they weren't happy about it.
"I'm sad," said Sandeep Reedy. "I pay $15 to commute, and in spite of that, I don't get all the amenities these guys are providing."
Michelle Galindo said she didn't appreciate the timing. "They shouldn't have done it in winter. They should've done it in the summer," she complained. "Now we have to walk further in the cold."
Looking ahead, others are adjusting their travel plans. John Silverman joked that he will "develop wings and fly" from the station's northern portal at Q Street NW or perhaps use the Farragut North station's L Street entrances, one stop south.
While the Q Street entrance isn't very far from the soon-to-be-closed portal at 19th Street, walking between them involves a complicated trip across Dupont Circle's inner and outer roadways.
"I use the station every morning. I'm going to be using the Q Street entrance, and I dread how crowded it will be," said Elissar Khalek, who noted that the northern portal is already packed.
For local businesses, the effects of the closure are uncertain. The escalators at 19th Street lead to heavily traveled pedestrian routes into the heart of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District.
"I don't think it'll affect us," said floral designer Jolie Joswick. "Most people order for delivery anyway."
Nearby, at the tiny Dupont Coffee Shop, the impact is less clear. Employee Helen Nam said, "Yes, [it will make] a big difference. Maybe."