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Posted at 7:50 AM ET, 11/26/2010

The weekend and beyond

By Robert Thomson

Construction updates | D.C. area travel tips | Going Out Guide

Friday is not a holiday, though for the most part, it may look like one on the roads and rails. Parking regulations and HOV lane restrictions are in effect. Metro doesn't have any track work scheduled for this weekend. Here are some highlights of what travelers will contend with over the weekend and beyond.

Metrorail this weekend
Friday: Metrorail will operate on a regular weekday schedule from 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. with six-car trains. Peak fares will be charged and regular weekday parking rates will apply.

Saturday: Metro will operate its regular Saturday schedule, with the rail system opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 3 a.m. Parking at lots and garages is free.

Sunday: The plan for the big return day calls for operating a regular Sunday schedule, with Metro opening at 7 a.m. and closing at midnight. Parking will be free. Metro says it will monitor conditions on the rail lines and buses that serve the airports and add service as needed.

Bus services
Metrobus, Cue, Loudoun Bus and PRTC are operating modified services on Friday. Ride On and The Bus are operating regular service. The Fairfax Connector has no service on Routes 380D, 585, 595 and 597. MTA commuter buses are not operating. DASH is operating with reduced weekday service.

Commuter rail
MARC is not operating Friday. VRE is operating on its S schedule.

Virginia HOV rules
Don't risk a ticket: The High Occupancy Vehicle lane restrictions on I-66, I-95 and I-395 are in effect on Friday. On I-95/395, three or more in a vehicle can use the lanes northbound from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. From 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., three or more in a vehicle can use the lanes southbound.

On I-66 inside the Capital Beltway two or more must be in a vehicle from 6:30 to 9 a.m. eastbound and from 4 to 6:30 p.m. westbound. Outside the Beltway, the HOV-2 rules apply in the left lane from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. eastbound and from 3 to 7 p.m. westbound.

On the weekend, the I-95/395 reversible lanes will be southbound from 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26 until 2 p.m. Saturday, and northbound from 4 p.m. Saturday, through the rest of the weekend.

Tysons holiday traffic
Route 7 west of Route 123 looks like a go-cart track. The lanes weave. They are lined with orange barrels and concrete barriers. The drivers ahead, and to your side, will make sudden moves in heavy traffic. The mid-block turns have disappeared but the main intersections and their left-turn lanes still exist.

Great caution is needed on the new, temporary ramp from southbound Route 123 to westbound Route 7. Look sharp for the entrance after passing International Drive. Then notice the two-way traffic, the driveways and the 15 mph speed limit as the ramp winds toward a stop sign at Route 7. Right on Route 7 is the only way to go there. Turn your head way left to see all the approaching traffic.

The left lanes on Route 123 at the Capital Beltway are blocked for construction of a new Beltway bridge. Drivers leaving Tysons on northbound Route 123 and hoping to reach the Beltway's inner loop must resist the reflex to stay right. That ramp is gone. Stay in the left lane, then move into the two left turn lanes at the traffic signal. As you drive up the ramp, watch for cars entering it from the right.

Marcia McAllister, spokeswoman for the Dulles Metrorail project, offers this caution for drivers heading to the shopping centers along Route 7 in Tysons Corner.

Because all the mid-block left turns have been eliminated to make way for the rail project in the median, many drivers will need to make U-turns along westbound Route 7 at busy intersections like Spring Hill Road and Gosnell Road/Westpark Drive to get to centers that host Marshalls, TJ Max, a brand new Home Goods, Best Buy, Sports Authority and other retailers. The Container Store and others along the way have put up signs on their property to direct shoppers to alternate entrances.

Shopping traffic elsewhere
There are many hot spots in the D.C. area for seasonal traffic. Among them are Rockville Pike, Landover Road near The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, the Baltimore Washington Parkway and Route 100 near Arundel Mills and I-295 and I-95 near National Harbor.

Traffic also will be drawn south on I-95 toward the Central Park Shopping Center and the Spotsylvania Towne Centre along Route 3 in the Fredericksburg area.

The District's street parking fees have gone up since last year. In popular shopping and entertainment areas, it costs $2 per hour and the rules are enforced on Saturdays, as well as on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Bring lots of quarters, or look for the new meters that take credit cards.

Redskins at FexEx on Sunday
Frequent commenter 1995hoo suggested I point out to returning travelers on Sunday that the Redskins have a 1 p.m. game at FedEx Field just off the Capital Landover. Even under normal circumstances that would crowd the eastern side of the Beltway, especially around the Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue exits. Long-distance travelers returning from Thanksgiving along I-95 would be better off swinging west when they reach the Beltway and crossing over the Legion Bridge.

Lane shifts on H St.
The District Department of Transportation plans to shift lanes at the intersection of H and 8th streets NE beginning Monday to accommodate the reconstruction of the roadway and the installation of streetcar tracks along H Street.

The lane shifts will be in effect for about nine weeks. The 8th Street traffic across H Street will be maintained throughout this work, although it is likely to be slowed somewhat by the lane restrictions, DDOT says.

Traffic restrictions at the H Street intersection with 6th Street, originally scheduled to start last week, have been reset for Monday and Tuesday. From 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day, the 700 block of 6th Street, which is one-way northbound, will be available only to local residential traffic. Drivers can use 5th Street as an alternative.

Park and ride shrinking
Parking at Reston East Park and Ride on Wiehle Avenue north of the Dulles Toll Road is about to shrink because of construction connected to the Dulles Metrorail project, which includes a station at Wiehle Avenue and Route 267.

The park and ride, which will be the site of a garage for the station, is scheduled to lose 200 of its 820 spaces this month.

This is just the preliminary utility work. By the time construction begins in earnest in March, all the spaces will be eliminated until the 2,300-space garage is done. The station is scheduled to open in 2013.

By Robert Thomson  | November 26, 2010; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Driving, Metro, Tysons Corner, Weekend Work  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Next: Return trips on I-95 and Delaware

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