May 8, 2018 5:31 pm
Updated: May 8, 2018 5:32 pm

TransLink to spend $14.5M replacing Metro Vancouver’s longest escalators

Escalator steps seen stacked to the side during proactive maintenance at Granville Station.

Simon Little / Global News

Metro Vancouver’s three longest elevators are about to get a $14.5-million face lift, starting May 26.

TransLink is replacing the so-called “Big 3” escalators at the Granville SkyTrain Station, a job it says could take as much as two years to complete.

The replacement is part of a major maintenance and repair program underway, which will see 37 escalators at Expo Line and West Coast Express stations replaced.

READ MORE: Waterfront Station to undergo a major upgrade

Due to the construction, the Seymour Street entrance to Granville Station will be closed, and passengers will be asked to use the escalators on the Dunsmuir Street side of the station. Access to the Dunsmuir entrance will also remain possible from Granville Street.

WATCH: What goes into replacing Granville Station’s ‘Big 3’ escalators

TransLink says it has installed extra fare gates at the Dunsmuir entrance, and crews have done proactive maintenance on the escalators serving it.

Even so, TransLink is warning of potential delays — noting that the “Big 3” escalators carry about 30,000 passengers a day — and is suggesting that commuters use the Stadium-Chinatown or Burrard stations if possible.

It also warns that if multiple escalator serving the Dunsmuir entrance were to malfunction, Granville Station could be closed for safety reasons.

Crews conduct proactive maintenance on the Dunsmuir escalators in preparation for the ‘Big 3’ being offline.

Simon Little / Global News

Replacing the ‘Big 3’

The Big 3 are each 35 metres (115 feet) and 167 steps long, and, according to TransLink, move more 10 million passengers per year. In doing so, they travel a distance of more than 12,000 kilometres each year.

The equipment is original to when the Expo Line first opened in 1986.

While those features all make the escalators unique, they also create a particular challenge for crews working to replace them.

According to TransLink, replacing a standard escalator with a prefabricated equivalent usually takes about six months.

WATCH: Elevator woes at TransLink Stations

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However, because of the length of the Big 3, and the fact they are in a tight, underground space, the transit agency says crews won’t be able to bring the escalators in sections from the factory.

Inestead, TransLink says crews will have to use the escalators’ existing trusses.

That means disassembling the existing components piece by piece, checking the trusses for flaws, then assembling and building the new escalators on-site using the existing truss framework.

Along with the Big 3, TransLink will also replace three smaller escalators at the Granville Station.

TransLink says replacing all 37 escalators and elevators included in its maintenance plan will take four to five years, and that the project has not yet been fully costed.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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