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Get There: August 13, 2006 - August 19, 2006

Wilson Bridge Demolition Postponed

The plan to blow up a portion of the old Wilson Bridge in order to make way for construction of the second new span has been pushed back a few days, project officials announced today. Detonation of the nearly half-mile stretch of steel girders that supported the old bridge over Jones Point Park in Alexandria is now scheduled for 11:59 p.m., Aug. 29. The take-down had been scheduled for midnight Thursday, but the contractor needed a little more time to prepare the steel girders on the old span. The winner of the 'Toughest Bridge Commute' contest, which began last week and has generated hundreds of applications, according to project officials, still will get to push the plunger that detonates the old section. Traffic on the Capital Beltway will be halted for about half an hour at that time for safety reasons....

By Robert Thomson  |  August 18, 2006; 1:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Metrorail Bridge Shut Down This Weekend

Metro has announced its maintenance plans for the weekend, and the highlight is a shutdown of the Yellow Line Bridge across the Potomac. The transit authority also will test rail cars, causing delays on the regular Green Line service. Yellow Line: Trains will operate only between the Huntington and King Street stations starting tonight at 10 o'clock and continuing through midnight Sunday. This will allow workers to maintain the tracks and conduct an annual inspection on the rail bridge over the river. If you take the Yellow Line toward the District, you'll have to get off the train at King Street and board a Blue Line train, but they'll all be six-car trains this weekend. To get between L'Enfant Plaza and Mount Vernon Square stations, take the Green Line. Green Line: On Saturday and Sunday, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., trains will share one track between the Greenbelt and...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 18, 2006; 5:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Reminder on "Toughest Commute" Contest

Just thought I'd remind everybody that the deadline is fast approaching for entering the "Toughest Bridge Commute." The winner gets to detonate the charges that will bring down a portion of the old Wilson Bridge so that construction of the second new span can proceed. You've got until 7 a.m. on Friday, and you can enter online. Here are some details from the bridge project officials: Toughest Bridge Commute entries are being received at www.wilsonbridge.com/toughestcommute. Contestants are asked to provide objective evidence of their commuting challenges (i.e. miles per commute, time spent per day, how many years, etc.) as well as to write a few sentences explaining why their commute is particularly arduous. An independent panel of veteran traffic reporters will name the winner. Bridge project staff will contact the winner immediately after the decision and will let him or her know when the detonation date is confirmed. Contestants must...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 17, 2006; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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How Long to OC?

I got a question from a reader in Falls Church, and I thought I'd turn to you travelers for some guidance: "I have not driven to Ocean City , Md. , during the summer months in about 10 years. However, we will be going there on Saturday, Aug. 26. What's the traffic like these days heading toward the Bay Bridge and ultimately going to OC? How early will we need to leave? Thanks." First thing I asked was if she had an E-ZPass for the bridge, and she does. I know that motorists can call 1-877-BAYSPAN for up to date information on traffic at the bridge. I know there's plenty of traffic information on Maryland's CHART Web site and that you can check the traffic cameras before you go at TrafficLand.com, and that includes a view of the bridge toll plaza. But I haven't heard much about getaway traffic to...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 16, 2006; 5:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Getaway  
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Purple Line Politics

Mayors, congressmen, state senators, delegates, county council members and just plain candidates attended a rally this morning in Langley Park to advance the cause of the Purple Line, a proposed transitway that would link Bethesda and New Carrollton. I've been at this University Boulevard-New Hampshire Avenue intersection for three separate events this summer that involved the transitway. The first was a tour of the transit route with Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert Flanagan, the second with county executive candidate Steve Silverman and the third today the rally sponsored by a coaltion of transit and trail advocates and business leaders who want to see a light rail built to ease east-west traffic and the Capital Crescent hiker biker trail preserved and extended. Backdrop to a rally. (Robert Thomson) It's very encouraging to see such interest focused on the transitway right now, before a big election, when it really counts. For people in...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 15, 2006; 12:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  transit  
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Metro Responds on Bus Passes

During my Live Online discussion on Monday, "MetroBus Rider" asked about a shortage of Metrobus passes for sale at the Watergate Safeway. Our rider likes to buy the weekly passes every weekend while grocery shopping, but for two weeks in a row, the store has been out of passes. Steven Taubenkibel, a Metro spokesman, was trying to answer several questions for us during the discussion, but we couldn't get to this one in time. Steven said later that Metro sends all the passes destined for Safeway stores to a central location and Safeway distributes them to its stores. The transit agency doesn't track how the sales are going at Safeway's distrubtion points, but it can supply Safeway with more passes if Safeway asks. Metro sells weekly bus passes for $11. They are valid for a week -- Sunday through Saturday -- of unlimited travel regionwide on regular Metrobus routes. They...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 15, 2006; 5:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Metro  
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If It's Like This Now ...

These next couple of weeks are supposed to be as good as it gets for Washington travelers. As many people are out of town now as there are at any point of the year. At least, that's the theory. It's certainly possible that the rise in gas prices and last week's air terror threat could dampen enthusiasm for long distance travel. As I make my rounds and try to develop a better understanding of the traffic and transit issues we confront, I'm imagining what it will be like in September, with everyone back. I've done some trips by car, rail and bus at various times of day in Virginia, Maryland and the District -- and I don't like what I see. The best and worst experiences have been aboard buses. For yesterday's newspaper column, I wrote about riding the Circulator bus, an innovative system sponsored by a public-private partnership that...

By Robert Thomson  |  August 14, 2006; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Congestion  
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