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May 9, 2023

Flood Update: Elevator at Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station Returns to Service

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Service has been restored to the east elevator at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink Station. The elevator on the west side of the platform remains out of service at this time. Both elevators have been unavailable since July 2022, when historic flash flooding caused approximately $40 million of damage to key infrastructure and components of the MetroLink light rail system.

While one of the elevators at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station has resumed operation, repairs continue on other flood-damaged areas of the MetroLink system. This includes the complete removal and replacement of a signal house, which controls rail switches and train movement on the system. Due to flood damage to the signal house, MetroLink is unable to operate at pre-flood service levels. Work to restore this critical component is expected to be completed later this year. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work to recover from this unprecedented event.

Flash Flood Impact

On July 26, 2022, historic rainfall spurred flash flooding throughout the St. Louis region. The deluge of water – more than nine inches of rainfall in 24 hours — flooded roads, homes and vehicles, causing millions of dollars in damage throughout our community. MetroLink equipment and service was severely impacted, particularly at and between the Delmar Loop and Forest Park Stations. Some of the damage to the system included:

  • Loss of one MetroLink train to flood damage at the Delmar Loop Station
  • Substantial damage to both elevators at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station
  • Substantial damage to communications and fiber optics equipment
  • Damage to four signal houses, including the total loss of the DeBaliviere signal house (which are important for managing track switches and train movement)
  • Damage to five miles of light rail track

When factoring in necessary equipment upgrades and flood mitigation, it is estimated the flood caused approximately $40 million in damage to the MetroLink system. Metro Transit is working with our federal partners to help address these costs.

Flooding on MetroLink tracks at Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station

MetroLink service was severely compromised in the hours and days following the flash flooding, with bus shuttles providing service to many MetroLink stations as only limited train service was available. However, thanks to the heroic efforts of the MetroLink team who worked around the clock following the flash flooding, Red Line MetroLink service was restored on July 30, with Blue Line service partially restored with trains operating between Shrewsbury-Lansdowne I-44 and Skinker Stations. Blue Line service between Shrewsbury and Fairview Heights resumed in November 2022. Pre-flood MetroLink service levels continue to be impacted because of the flood damage to the signal house.

The Elevators

Both elevators at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station went out of service in July 2022 when water flooded both elevators and, more critically, the mechanical room that controls them. An inspection noted damage to multiple electrical components, the control motor, and the hydraulic pump.

A MetroLink train approaches a platform where a sign says "Elevator out of service"

Supply chain issues, affecting the availability of replacement parts, created unfortunate delays in restoring operations. While the elevators were out of service, Metro Transit provided free shuttles to help customers who typically rely on elevator access to navigate the system. Service on the east elevator at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station was restored in May 2023.

If you experience issues with the elevator and you are unable to use the stairs, please call 314.982.1400 ext. 4870 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Call 314.289.6972 for help outside of those hours.

The Signal House

A signal house is a crucial component of traffic control on the MetroLink system. It lets operators know when it is safe to move, and it controls the switches that guide trains onto the correct tracks. This infrastructure is especially important at the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Station, where the Red Line and Blue Line converge.

A train signal along the MetroLink tracks

Flood waters damaged three signal houses near the station, with one being a total loss. That signal house controlled the busiest section of rail traffic on the entire MetroLink system—where four Red Line and Blue Line tracks merge to just two tracks. A high-water mark shows where the flood almost reached the roof, soaking all the sensitive electronic equipment inside.

Our teams continue their work to build a replacement signal house outfitted with modernized components. Another crucial step is to make sure the new signal house is installed out of reach of another potential flood by installing it on a platform or other suitable infrastructure.

Supply chain issues and the availability of parts affect the timeline for the completion of this work. We anticipate resolving this issue by Fall 2023, although that timeline is subject to change.

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