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More than a year after a fatal smoke incident at the L’Enfant Plaza station revealed problems with communication on Metro, the D.C. region’s busiest transit authority today said it will install 100 miles of radio cables to help fix them.
In a release, Metro announced that it will attach “dual radio and cellular cables” to the walls of rail tunnels in an effort to make underground communications more reliable for emergency responders and riders alike. Though the schedule for implementing the cables hasn’t been set due to the engineering needed, work will be done on nights and weekends.
“The process involves carefully installing special trays into the tunnel walls to support the heavy cables, which are two-inches thick, and relocating thousands of reflective signs that are currently affixed to the tunnel walls,” Metro explains in its release. “The system will be easier to maintain than the current radio system as critical equipment is moved to where it can be accessed at all times without track outages.” Design tests are ongoing within a Red Line tunnel, it adds.
Metro’s lack of full cellphone coverage has been long documented (and experienced), even as major wireless firms have had approval from Metro’s board to expand service underground for several years. The transit agency says the new cables will cost approximately $120 million to install, in large part financed by its capital-improvement program.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery