WASHINGTON - Metro is taking the wraps off its plans to tear down its current headquarters in gallery place and move to a newly-refurbished, multi-million dollar building in L'Enfant Plaza. With all the issues Metro has been having -- is it worth taxpayer dollars to make that happen? Metro officials say "yes."
Despite continuing issues, Metro has made improvements and continues to working on the system, but there's a long way to go.
Some riders are asking "should metro be getting a shiny new headquarters before all that system work is done?"
During FOX 5's reporting on Wednesday, Metro employees held a fire drill, where all employees had to evacuate the building. Metro's current building was built in 1974 and does not have an indoor sprinkler system.
Employees must be a part of fire drills, stop work, walk out onto the street before it's over, which Metro staff argues does not help productivity. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says the current headquarters is outdated and past its prime, not to mention unsafe.
"I walked in the building the first day and said this is unacceptable. You know we stress safety -- and that goes for our passengers as well as our employees. We have to get out of here. And the bottom line is we are going to make a lot of money. We're going to save money for the taxpayers by doing this."
Some of the issues at the current Metro headquarters include heating and air conditioning systems that need to be replaced, rusted pipes throughout the building, and operation controls that still relay on old buttons and dials.
The plan is move over to L'Enfant Plaza and refurbish an empty building that's already standing. They'll also have room to rent offices to new tenants, and make money selling the old building next to Capitol One Arena.
For two years now, Metro's been fixing the rail system, addressing insulators from spark and smoke, replacing escalators, fixing leaking tunnels, and air chillers.
Some riders said they are giving Metro credit for those improvement, but say they want the focus to remain on the system, and that a new building might not be a priority.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says new headquarters will have an impact on the improvement by consolidating offices, along with control centers under one roof, they also expect to save $130 million dollars in the move.
WMATA's board is taking this up on November 15. If approved they could move-in sometime over the next two years.