- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 28, 2011

Metro officials will replace floor tiles in rail stations with larger, less slippery ones, agency officials said Thursday.

The change follows several recent incidents in which passengers have slipped on the familiar hexagonal terra cotta tiles with serious consequences. Last week, an elderly couple slipped on the tiles on the platform of the Gallery Place Chinatown station in the District and landed on the tracks. They were pulled to safety by fellow passengers and no serious injuries were reported.

However, Alexandria Mayor and Metro board member William D. Euille was less lucky. In September, he slipped at the Braddock Road station and as a result needed knee surgery.

The Red Line’s Rockville, Shady Grove, Twinbrook and White Flint - all outdoor stations - will be the first to get the new tiles.

Dave Kubicek, the agency’s acting deputy general manager for operations, said the Takoma station already has some of the newer tiles and they have “proven to work very nicely.”

Metro spent $300,000 to replace a section of the tiles at the Takoma station platform and tested the new tiles for four months, from December 2008 to April 2009. The new tile features the same terra cotta color and hexagonal shapes with a longer square paver.

He also said the agency must do a better job of warning customers about safety hazards, citing a recent incident in which 52-year-old woman was hospitalized after falling into a open and unmarked escalator hatch at the Pentagon station. The two Metro employees responsible for the accident no longer work for the agency, officials said.

Metro officials also said they have 281 unresolved safety-hazard issues from last year, ranging from broken light bulbs to procedures for how maintenance crews work on the rails.

James M. Dougherty, Metro’s chief safety officer, the 41 issues found to be the most dangerous or deemed “unacceptable” have been addressed and satisfactorily examined.

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