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Is That Rain I See?

Yes it is, and it's coming down hard yet again. So far, though, the morning commute appears bearable. The main trouble spot on the interstates is on I-395 in Virginia, where standing water in the northbound lanes is slowing drivers to about 5 miles an hour near Shirlington. That will probably be enough to slow that highway, and perhaps parts of I-95, throughout the morning commute. Otherwise, there are dozens and dozens of high water spots on secondary roads across the region. Transit is more hopeful today, with Metro and MARC running fine and VRE running a limited schedule.

The forecast isn't good. Rain is expected this morning, this afternoon and tonight and more is on the way tomorrow, so there are sure to be more problems. Track all of the traffic and weather reports here throughout the day.

But that's what I know. Be sure to let me know what you know as you come in from this morning's commute.

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 27, 2006; 6:50 AM ET
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Going from Tysons up to Gaithersburg last night, WTOP said that a section of road collapsed right at the lane combine off the 270 spur. I took Chain Bridge road up to Chain Bridge (more like Chain River Road), Arizona up to Nebraska, then Wisconsin up to 270 extension. On the HOV flyover ramp, I could see the poor souls stuck on the 270 spur (and those not smart enough to jump on the HOV ramp from the extension) and a bunch of trucks, but there's been no word if the road is fixed or if tonight is going to be a monster problem. Steven, please let us know. No other options for many of us to get home (thanks to MoCo's policy of preserving the monsterous estates of the rich in the ag reserve at the expense of the working people who need another bridge or tunnel to VA).

Posted by: Rain rain go away | June 27, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Tyson's to Silver Spring yesterday afternoon took almost 2 hours.

This morning was pretty good on the Georgia Ave to Tyson's part of the beltway, except for the backup because of a crash and some minor fender benders (from what I heard on the radio... everything was gone by the time I got there but there was still a backup).

Drivers need to remember to take their time and keep a safe distance because even a fender bender can cause miles of backups. Also, when it is raining, make sure your lights are on. It is very difficult to see in the torrential downpours like we had yesterday afternoon/evening and it makes it easier for other cars to see you (by illuminating your tail lights).

Good luck today and tonight everybody! Let's try to make tonight's commute a little easier for each other.

Posted by: driver guy | June 27, 2006 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Why the HECK is it that the WMATA Web site says there are no alerts and no delays... yet right now, I just arrived at work 40 minutes late because my ride from Courthouse to Farragut West (three stations) took an extra 40 minutes. And yet right now, there is a story on the WashPost front page that describes the 30+ minute delays that customers should expect on all transit.

I am absolutely furious. Yesterday, I was angry, because it just didn't make sense that there were such poor contingency plans. Today, Metro has had more than 24 hours to prepare, and yet we are saddled with horrible delays, still, and we still cannot get straight answers and reliable information from WMATA. I made an intentional check of the WMATA Web site this morning to see if there were problems; none were reported. And I get to the station and there are tons of people crowded on the platform and the trains aren't moving.

The incompetence is shocking, even for WMATA, even in a city that struggles with all forms of traffic management.

Posted by: Mike | June 27, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Mike, the WMATA Web site needs improvements!

Yesterday I finally figured out that Federal Triangle and Archives had been opened. It was buried in text in an article that was in green text.

Haven't these folks heard of bullet points and headlines to put breaking news?

I think the web site, like a great deal of Metro, needs a kick in the pants to get important news available -- at a glance, and in a type that is easier to read.

Posted by: RoseG | June 27, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Before I left my house this morning I checked both Metro's website and the WaPo website. They both indicated Metro was running normally. Just to be safe, I left a little early. Well it wasn't early enough. My usual commute takes 30 minutes door to door. Today it was an hour and fifteen minutes! I'm not complaining about the delay; I understand Metro is still dealing with the rain and flooding. What annoys me is not knowing what's going on. Why did were we crawling along for a number of stops before we were told of the signal issue. What do you want to bet it won't show up on Metro's "Yesterday's Service" page either?

Posted by: Orange Line | June 27, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I also agree with Mike's posting. I'm also wondering about the email alerts that are supposed to be coming from WMATA. What happened to them? I got no email alerts either yesterday or today, and I'm signed up for Orange/Blue line alerts. They could have really helped explaining what to do yesterday and today, but we were left to fend for ourselves.

Posted by: Drew | June 27, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Not true!!!, I arrived at work 45 minutes late (one hour and ten minutes from the time I left from home)coming from Pentagon City because there was no power at the Federal Triangle station and that alone was backing up the entire Blue-Orange line. I don't believe a iota of what WMATA's web site says and it is clear they didn't provide any information to any local radion station either.
I can't choose to drive because the traffic is terrible, I wouldn't think in riding buses to downtown, otherwise,I would never arrive on time, finally my last option: metro is breaking apart. What gives?, doesn't matter if I wake up earlier because my plan goes down the toilet by the moment I try to go work.

Posted by: Manuel | June 27, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

As others above have posted, Metro is not running on time! It took me almost 2 hours to get into Gallery Place from Vienna. The train's driver kept changing her explanation for the delay too. First it was a sick passenger, then it was because of flooding at Federal Center SW, so I have no idea if this delay is weather related or because of some other reason. Metro, please be more forthcoming about delays on your system!

Posted by: C | June 27, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Rather than just venting here on the blog, send your frustrations to Metro! I (usually) get a response, and even if it's nothing, at least it gets logged and possibly read by someone at WMATA. It's better than just posting here where only other frustrated commuters are reading it.

Posted by: Dan | June 27, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to let you know that MARC is NOT running fine. Many of their trains were delayed at least 45 minutes this morning.

Posted by: R. | June 27, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh how I wish all cars had some sort of remote receiver, one where I could just push the HEADLIGHTS ON button on my universal remote and the offending car's headlights would magically turn on. The refusal or inability to turn on headlights, or the just plain "not-connecting-the-dots"-ness of drivers in general makes me resigned to the fact that I will someday be in an accident with some oaf who didn't make being visible to other drivers a higher prioirty than yapping on their cell phones or drinking their lattes. I have yet to ever be in an accident after 10 years of driving, and I count my blessings daily. Why can't other drivers give a hoot about those they share the road with and get their heads out of their rear ends? Sighs...

WMATA: A funny irony...I think most of the problems WMATA experiences could be minimized if people just had the right info. They would use other modes of transit if possible or change their plans. The fact that no one knows what to expect until they are on the platform has to be responsible for making daily problems even worse. You would think WMATA would be proactive in solving such a simple straightforward issue. Here's my plan: FIRE all the PR and Communications SUPERVISORS (it is they who are ultimately responsible for failing to get info out in my opinion...) and replace them with people who actually know what it's like to ride the system on a daily basis. Then, PUT UP TRAIN ARRIVAL TIME INFO SIGNS OUTSIDE THE STATION or NEAR THE FARE MACHINES so riders know whether they just missed a train or it is pulling up as they enter the station. PLEASE?

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | June 27, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

My metro ride was just like usual this morning... Maybe it was just a blue/orange problem? The green line was fine.

Posted by: TH | June 27, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks everyone for all the great comments. It's helping us immensely as we report on our stories today. I'd love to talk to some of you in more detail; please e-mail me at with phone numbers if you're interested.

Posted by: Steven Ginsberg | June 27, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Me again complaining about my 2+ hour commute from Reston to Manassas last night. There was zero reason for FFX Cty. Pkwy and Rt. 28 to be backed up! It took me 40 minutes to go the first 2 miles! I didn't encounter one flooded road or any accidents. There were periods of heavy rain, for the most part it appeared managable.

Come on. Why do we constantly have to have these insane back ups? It should never take 2 hours to go 17 miles! No reports were on WTOP/XM 214/Washington Post/ as to why there were back ups. All that was said was there is heavy traffic from Vienna to Gainsville.

(I know I need to move, as soon as my lease is up, I will move closer, but for now, this is what I have to deal with).

Today's commute wasn't any better on FFX Cty. Pkwy either. I managed to get off at Fair Lakes and drive into Reston on West Ox/Lawyers. That route was fine (last night it sucked!).

Posted by: Elle | June 27, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

From Metro's web site detailing yesterday's (6/26) service: "Percentage of rail customers who experienced no delay: 97.42 percent"

I guess I was among the unlucky 2.58% who did experience a delay yesterday?

Where the hell did they get 97.42%?!?!?!

Posted by: FFx | June 27, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

WMATA's incompetence is astounding. Their website is worthless b/c they don't provide accurate warnings.

Heck, but don't worry...I saw that some of my Fairfax leaders are busy working with WMATA to bring live music to the stations. THAT WILL MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Yes, big delays on Orange Line this morning. Surprisingly smooth commute last night, though, enough that I actually thought, "Wow, Dan Tangherlini really DID make a difference." Then today, kaput. Back to normal.

Yesterday at East Falls Church Station, they had big plastic yellow stickers on the turnstiles that said something like "Major Delays. Investigate Route Before Paying Entry Fee." After talking to the station manager about the delays, I actually took a cab (PlanBDextrous!). Then today, the signs were gone, which made me think we were back to business-as-usual. Big mistake!

Posted by: Arrrlington | June 27, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Like a lot of other people (judging by your chat yesterday) I was willing to cut Metro a break yesterday. My driver from Pentagon to McPherson yesterday morning was excellent, telling us all why there was a delay and making plenty of announcments. I wasn't really pleased to see three orange line trains pass by before a blue line (4 CAR!) train finally showed up at McPherson yesterday afternoon, but again I was willing to be patient.

But this morning was awful. I waited 15 minutes for a blue line train at the Pentagon. Two yellow line trains passed by first. There were significant delays between stations. But when I checked the website, there were no problems reported. Of course the blue line was packed, and there was nearly no room for us to get on. My bus didn't show up. ARGH! I am dreading the commute home.

I do have to say, though, the metro employees have been great. Both train operators made announcments about the delays and reasons for them (and spoke slowly and clearly!). The station managers at Pentagon and McPherson were visible and answering questions. So, love for them!

Posted by: Annie | June 27, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad I'm not in DC anymore. Reading these comments reminds me in some way of 9/11 when we were trying to figure out if the Metro was running, what bridges, highway, roads, etc. were open or not.

If this is what Mother Nature does to the traffic, I'd hate to see what would happen if some other event occurred.

And before someone tries to say I'm giving the terrorists ideas...if they're reading these comments, they already have it.

Posted by: no longer in DC | June 27, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Metro currently states on its website what the problem at Federal Triangle is. Read below to see what appears to have caused the delays this morning. Note that Metro doesn't anticipate a quick fix:

"Metrorail service was fully restored Monday afternoon with the Federal Triangle Metrorail station reopening at 12:15 p.m. However, trains are operating at a reduced speed through this station because the automatic train control room at the Federal Triangle Metrorail station experienced significant water damage. The automatic train control room is the system that governs train movement and speed when the trains are in "automatic" not "manual" mode.

Blue and Orange Line trains operating between Metro Center and Federal Triangle (which is approximately 1,000 feet) will be operating in manual mode at 15 miles per hour. Metro officials expect the repairs to be completed early next week."

I wish I would have known that this morning. I subscribe to the WMATA alerts and have Verizon on both my phones so I can get text messages, etc., within the subway system. I, like others posting here, received no alert this morning about this on my cellphone or on my Smartphone (PDA).

I only overheard from a train standing for a long time at Courthouse a confusing message about trains being backed up between there and Federal Triangle. I ended up exiting Courthouse station and walking to Rosslyn, where I rode outbound to the Pentagon on the Blue Line, then got on an inbound Yellow train to Gallery Place. That's how I sometimes bypass delays on the downtown tracks. Had I known the Blue and Orange trains inbound were so badly slowed by the problems at FT, I would have walked down to Rosslyn in the first place.

Posted by: Orange Line Rider | June 27, 2006 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world did they close Constitution Avenue? This was a major screw-up! The only reason I've seen is power outages. So, why not get a zillion police out there to direct traffic? It's a major thoroughfare! What sheer incompetence. Same with the signals on Independence and 7th Streets.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | June 27, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

WMATA now has an alert up on its web site about the Blue/Orange line. At least they're approaching the truth for the evening commute.

The organization just seems so dysfunctional. I half expecte that Dan Tangherlini spent his morning learning HTML so that *someone* would post the train status.

Posted by: Arrrlington | June 27, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Metro's "Yesterday's Service" stats are always unbelievable (I've been through many long delays and/or trains taken out of service that have never shown up in the summary of previous day's service, and I still can't understand how they can calculate the number of people delayed), but yesterday's stats are downright absurd. I think they labeled it wrong -- it should have said "97.42% of people experienced some delay."

I use the Federal Triangle station, and yesterday afternoon, it was smelly and dank, to the point that I wondered if it was safe for me to be breathing the air, and appeared to be working on maybe half power (most lights were off, escalators weren't running). Today, my Orange Line train (slow like others have been describing here, and with a driver who didn't bother sharing any info about why it was taking an hour to go 4 stations) was sitting at Metro Center for several minutes when the driver suddenly announced that the train would not be stopping at Federal Triangle. I barely had time to grab my stuff and jump out before the doors closed.

Incidentally, there are no signs anywhere at Federal Triangle station giving us the info mentioned above, about how it's expected to take until next week to fix.

Oh well, at least today I was able to get on a Metro car without being so crushed that I thought I would faint or throw up.

Posted by: Fed up with Metro | June 27, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I heard Dr. Gridlock is retiring. Major Bummer! Maybe Stephen can take over. Go for it man! You're all over it dude! Oh, yeah...the traffic today. As usual it like totally sucked! I can see why Dr. Gridlock is bailing. As soon as I score a new job I'm out of here. DC like totally sucks!

Posted by: Totally Bummed in DC | June 27, 2006 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Obviously metro officials cannot control the weather and to a certain extent can be forgiven for not having a completely airtight plan in place for such extreme conditions as we have seen in the past few days. But there is absolutely NO excuse for providing misleading information that only makes the situation 10 times worse. (And it makes it 20 times worse when they don't provide any information at all)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

WMATA's current alerts (around 4 pm Tuesday) state that due to "track maintenance" at Federal Triangle, there is a 10 minute delay between Smithsonian and Metro Center. Unfortunately, I can't tell if that is related to the problems with the train control room at FT -- or in addition to it. At any rate, it looks as if there will be delays in the downtown section of the Blue/Orange Lines tonight.

Posted by: Orange Line Rider | June 27, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Let me add MetroBUS to the list of website woes. I normally take the bus from the Burke/Springfield area (the 17 route). Yesterday, there were no buses. Zero. People would leave the bus stop in small groups in cars as they gave up. Metro's website said: No service disruptions.

Like many others, if I knew what Metro knew at 6AM, I would have stayed home.

I'll try to send this concern to Metro as well. Sometimes they seem to forget they operate a bus system along with the rail system.

Posted by: Redbeard | June 27, 2006 4:27 PM | Report abuse

What can we do to help prevent further rain damage to our basements/foundations of our homes this evening with another 5 - 8 inches expected????

Posted by: Diana | June 27, 2006 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Why is 15th St. blocked at Pennsylvania Ave. so you have to turn left and get on to 14th St. to cross Constitution Ave.? This is insane! Either way, you have to cross Constitution Ave., so what's better about 14th St. than 15th St only 1 block away?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Robin | June 27, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

HEADLIGHTS ON, yes yes yes!!!! That is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine. Both states around here have that law, as does DC, but it's not publicized well. They're happy to put up signs at the state line saying that seat belt use is the law, or (in Virginia) that radar detector use is against the law, but Virginia wimps out on the headlight thing and just has a sign saying "Headlights On When Using Wipers." They ought to put some teeth into it and say "STATE LAW: TURN ON HEADLIGHTS WHEN USING WIPERS." Make it clear that it's the law, and ENFORCE IT. I realize the cops don't want to get wet in the rain any more than the rest of us do, of course, but they signed on for this job.

Actually, I think that in the sort of rainy conditions we've had over the past few days the failure to use headlights should be considered reckless driving. In the legal world, "reckless" has a particular meaning indicating, in essence, that you knew that you were endangering others but acted in gross disregard of the risk. I think failure to use headlights ought to qualify as prima facie reckless driving.

Of course, I'd wager that a lot of the idiots who don't use their lights think that since THEY aren't aided by the lights, they don't need them--just like the morons who drive with no lights at night.

Posted by: Rich | June 27, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Why are drivers in this town so unbelievably dense? Coming from NY, the mindset of people here boggles my mind. It's really simples folks:


Is that so hard? Especially in DC, where most of the intersections have crosswalk signs with TIMERS which will tell drivers how much time they have before the light changes.

Here's a hint. If the car in front of you isn't past the crosswalk on the opposite side of the intersection STAY WHERE YOU ARE until there is room.

The stupid were out in force along E street (inbound) this morning and 18th street, as well as 17th and Penn this evening.

Posted by: Matt | June 27, 2006 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm supposed to be driving up to Columbia, MD tomorrow a.m. from Virginia Beach. Can anyone tell me what the I95 corridor is supposed to be like in the morning @5:00?


Posted by: Scott | June 27, 2006 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Check here in the AM:

Posted by: hysdavid | June 27, 2006 9:13 PM | Report abuse

How's Metro looking for people this morning? Are folks running into problems or are things smooth riding?

Posted by: MetroRider | June 28, 2006 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Definitely still delays (and therefore overcrowding) on the Orange line. The delays were probably only 10 minutes long, but probably much longer for those heading all the way to Metro Center.

Speaking of overcrowding, I wonder if there are other things WMATA could do to minimize overcrowding? I don't know if it's forming lines, or whatever, but perhaps look at the overcrowding as a separate, solvable problem vs. the delays (which are persistent).

Posted by: Arrrlington | June 28, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

My commute this morning on the orange line from Ballston to Capitol South took 1 hr and 10 minutes. It normally takes 30 minutes. We stopped at Rosslyn for about 15 minutes with the conductor announcing every once and a while that we were backed up from Federal Triangle to Vienna because trains were still operating slowly through the flooded area. There was nothing else to do but wait. Fortunately the train wasn't too packed.

I really would like some train status signs in view before you pay to enter the system. That way, you could decide whether or not to take the train.

Posted by: Ballston rider | June 28, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Things seemed a little better today but Arrrlington is correct in saying the overcrowding is a systemic problem. It's not going to get better, as we keep seeing more and more townhouses and condos being built in the very desirable Ballston-VaSq-Clarendon-Courthouse area. Not sure what WMATA can do. Just look at the reaction to the 8-car train experiment. The intent was to ease some of the delays at the Rosslyn tunnel, as Blue and Orange trains take turns entering Rosslyn. But many people seem to dislike having fewer trains, even if some have 8 cars. They seem to prefer more frequent 6-car service during rushhour. I work a flexible schedule and am lucky in that I can add time at the end of the workday if I don't arrive early enough in the morning. So I sometimes let many, many crowded trains go by at Courthouse before I decide to board the less crowded first or last car of an 8-car train. Not being crowded means more to me than getting to my destination faster. So, I'll miss the 8 car trains when the experiment ends. Other people aren't lucky enough to work a flexible schedule. I see plenty of people try desperately to squeeze onto the first train that pulls up to the platform after they arrive at the Courthouse station. WMATA seems kind of stuck in working out solutions, as what works best for one person doesn't for another.

To end on a more positive note, as a longtime Metro user, I do like the fact that we can get text alerts. And the fact that there are signs that tell you when the next three trains are projected to arrive is a big plus. Anyone remember how annoying it was when you got down to a relatively empty platform on a Sunday, when the headways are the longest, and just had to guess how long since the last train went and when the next one would come along? So I do give Metro credit for continuous improvement in some areas relating to communication. Now if we could just understand the announcements coming over the speakers!

Posted by: Orange Line Rider | June 28, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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