I AM THE VICE chairman
of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors, and I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the article (“That Sinking Feeling”) which appeared in the June 7, 1996 issue:
At no time were residents or the traveling public at risk from the Metro tunneling operation. It is no secret that the Park Road Tunnels contract has experienced a major change due to an unforeseen differing site condition. Tunneling has since resumed after two grout test sections were completed with no further settlements. The major problem, in this area, now appears to be behind us, and we can continue with confidence that the tunneling will be performed in a safe manner both for the public and the workers.
Another issue raised was the fire that occurred in the late afternoon of May 17, 1996. The article is basically correct in the depiction of the sequence of events that transpired. The Authority and the Fire Marshall have agreed on a revised health and safety plan to allow the work at the corner of Park Road and 11th Street to continue. Work resumed at this location on June 14, 1996, after a second community meeting, which was held on June 13, 1996. This particular site has turned out to be the most contaminated site on the mid-city E Route. A gas station and automobile repair facility had been located at this site since the early 1920s, and leaking underground storage tanks have been in place there for about the same amount of time. The Park Road tunneling contract anticipated the problem and a health and safety plan requirement that had been coordinated with the D.C. Department of Regulatory Affairs as part of the contract. The fire and resulting injuries were most unfortunate but this can be classed as an unavoidable accident. We are hopeful that the revised plan will prevent a recurrence and protect the workers from further injury.
Rat abatement is part of all of the mid-city E Route contracts. However, because of liability issues, the areas abated are those inside the work and storage area fences. The indiscriminate spreading of rat poison in area frequented by children and pets would present an intolerable risk to the community. The agreement reached between the Authority and the D.C. Department of Public Works is that the Authority contractors would abate inside the work and storage areas while the public space and private property abatement would stay with the Department of Public Works.
A final issue is that of dust, dirt, and mud created by our construction program. This is a never-ending battle and one which the Authority reminds the contractors to wage on a daily basis. The end is in sight for some of the communities. Restoration activities on 14th Street between V Street and Harvard Street and also on New Hampshire Avenue between Randolph Street and Grant Circle are under way.
Please, be a cheerleader for Metro—not a critic.