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Get There: September 10, 2006 - September 16, 2006

Metro Emergency Drill Sunday Morning

Metro and many emergency service departments plan to conduct a training drill Sunday morning from 8 to 10:30 between the Foggy Bottom-GWU and Rosslyn Stations. The drill is intended to simulate a bomb explosion on a six-car train in the Potomac tunnel. The exercise will require the use of a rescue train to move people back to the Foggy Bottom Station. The Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn stations will be open for customers during this exercise, but Blue Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery stations. Orange Line trains will share one track between Foggy Bottom and Clarendonl stations. Metro says riders should add 25 minutes of extra travel time to their schedules during the drill....

By Robert Thomson  |  September 16, 2006; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Plan Proposed for Northern Virginia Relief

Just got back from a press conference at the Dunn Loring Metro station with some of the elected officials in Northern Virginia who have presented a plan to improve the road-transit-pedestrian-bike network in Northern Virginia. The plan, created by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, projects the region's needs to 2030 and aims to ease the intense congestion that the generation born in this decade will encounter as it enters the working life. The plan identifies a total of $16 billion in what it considers unmet transportation needs, but the leaders supporting it are not proposing a specific method of raising the money. Their goal is to win the backing of the Virginia General Assembly, the stumbling block for any plan for the future of Northern Virginia's transportation network. The NVTA chairman, David Snyder, and Gerry Connolly, who is a member of the authority, each pointed to a set of maps...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 15, 2006; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Congestion  
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I-66 Widening on Track

Motorists who have been monitoring the progress of the expansion work on I-66 expansion from Manassas to Gainesville keep asking when it will be completed. Ryan Hall, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, told me that it is on track to finish on time, at the end of October, and you can expect to see construction start in spring 2007 on the next phase of the widening, from the Route 234 Bypass to Route 29 in Gainesville. Two lanes will be added to I-66 in each direction, one regular and one HOV. The inside lane will be reserved for two-person carpools during peak periods. The median will be kept to accommodate barrier-separated HOV lanes or transit at some point in the future, Hall said....

By Robert Thomson  |  September 15, 2006; 6:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  highways  
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Metro Replacing Station Speakers and Monitors

I got a question during this week's Live Online and said I'd ask Metro about it. The question went like this: Alexandria, Va.: Traveling through the Pentagon City Metro station yesterday, I noticed a series of what appear to be speaker boxes being installed at regular (10 foot) intervals along the platform. Are these part of Metro's efforts to improve communications? Will they be installed throughout the system? And most importantly, will they help to create sounds and announcements that are not only audible, but also INTELLIGIBLE? Candace Smith, a spokeswoman for Metro, said the work at Pentagon City Station is part of an $18.8 million program the transit authority announced in June 2005 to replaced the aging public address systems and closed circuit television monitors in the underground stations. It's a three-year project....

By Robert Thomson  |  September 14, 2006; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Va. Transportation Politics Heating Up

The primaries in DC and Maryland are wrapping up -- slowly -- but the transportation politicing in Virginia is about to enter a new phase: A special session of the Virginia General Assembly is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27 to consider proposals to improve travel conditions in the state. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority plans to hold a press conference Friday morning at the Dunn Loring Metro station in which some of the region's leaders will push for new investments in transportation services. I'm very much a supporter of upgrading the road and rail network. How could I not be after hearing the frustrations of so many VRE riders and road warriors this summer. But the choice of Dunn Loring Station for the press conference reminded me of how difficult it is to win support for new transportation programs. Back in 2002, I attended a press conference at the...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 13, 2006; 2:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Wilson Bridge Construction Plan

After my Live Online session Monday, John Undeland of the Wilson Bridge Project sent me a note to correct statement about when all the work will be completed. Here's what he said: "The project is on schedule to finish in 2011, not 2012. Completion dates are as follows: -- 2008: 2nd new bridge, I-295 Interchange, MD 210 Interchange -- 2009: US Route 1 Interchange -- 2011: Telegraph Road Interchange "These are the finish dates, and parts of these large interchange projects will come on line before the end. For example, the Route 1 ramps to the bridge have been opened for some time now. " John also noted my gaffe in refering to them as "intersections," rather than interchanges. That made them sound smaller than the mammoth works they are. But he also was thinking of the technical points: "Interchange" connotes grade-separated confluence of roads as opposed to "intersections," which...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 13, 2006; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Advice on Beltway Bottlenecks

I got a letter about Beltway traffic this morning that I thought I'd share with the group, because I love the idea the writer speaks of: A map that would show where the typical tie-ups occur. What would you want to color in on such a map? In the morning, there's the outer loop from about Greenbelt around to Georgia Avenue. That's a splotch I'd color in. Also, the outer loop in the morning around Tysons. In the afternoon, there's the inner loop in Maryland from the Legion Bridge through the I-270 split and the outer loop from the Telegraph Road area to the Wilson Bridge. What am I forgetting? To answer her specific question about the trip to the Eastern Shore, I'll warn her that backups can occur anywhere for a variety of reasons, but that she's likely to encounter delays on either loop of the Beltway at some...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 12, 2006; 1:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion  
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Right Lane Remains Closed on Md. Inner Loop

The right lane remains closed on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway in Bethesda between Georgia and Connecticut avenues after a tractor-trailer overturned on the highway. The lane is expected to stay closed through the morning rush hour. Inner Loop delays begin before Old Georgetown Rd. Outer Loop delays begin at I-95 College Park. -- Wire and Staff Reports...

By  |  September 12, 2006; 7:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Crash Closes Inner Loop Lanes

A crash has closed most of the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway in Bethesda between Georgia and Connecticut avenues. Traffic is backed up in the area after a tractor-trailer overturned on the highway. Debris is spilled across several lanes, and police are directing traffic to pass slowly on the two left lanes. Drivers are being urged to avoid the area while the cleanup continues. -- Wire and Staff reports...

By  |  September 12, 2006; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Gridlock Gets Worse

Okay folks. it's really bad now. Commuters apparently heeded the traffic gurus' suggestion to leave early and now there is about an eight-mile backup to Springfield for those approaching the Wilson Bridge. Traffic is also heavy in Eisenhower Avenue as people bail out and try to avoid the Beltway. Heading into Maryland, delays now extend from the exit for the Dulles Toll Road all the way around to Landover....

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 11, 2006; 5:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Gridiron Gridlock

It's getting pretty bad out there for anyone heading to the Redskins game, or for people just trying to take the Beltway home. Heavy delays are already reported on the Beltway traveling from Virginia to Maryland on the outer loop. The delays begin before Van Dorn Street. On the Outer Loop, traveling across the American Legion bridge to Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and Landover, the traffic is heavy and especially slow as you approach the exits for FedEx Field. Metro says it is running normally on the Blue and Orange lines, with ridership at 4:30 p.m. at about 421,000, before the rush-hour crunch really begins. There are also a bunch of people stuck on the George Washington Parkway, where a lane has been closed all day because of a truck accident this morning....

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 11, 2006; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Tunnel Talk

We had a good discussion the Live Online session this afternoon, but as usual, I couldn't get to many of the questions that came in. Some people have very specific questions and I just don't know the answers off the top of my head. There were some questions and comments about the rail to Dulles project, stimulated by the decision last week to abandon the idea of building a tunnel through Tysons Corner and instead construct an elevated railway. One person asked me about the schedule for construction following that decision, so I checked with Post staff writer Alec MacGillis, who's been all over this story. He said the ground breaking, which initially will mean moving utilities and some other work that's not very dramatic, is now scheduled for late next year. It has been pushed back partly because of the now-concluded tunnel debate. Under the current schedule, the rail...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 11, 2006; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , transit  
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Don't Be a Victim of Bad Planning

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on transportation issues during a Live Online discussion at 1 p.m. today. We might spend some time talking about transportation politics. In Maryland and the District, tomorrow is primary day, the decisive voting in many local contests because of the overwhelmingly Democratic registration in some areas. During the past month, I've gotten many questions and comments regarding the Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and about pedestrian and traffic safety everywhere. Virginians won't vote until the general election in November, but we did have a big political decision last week on transportation: Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) decided he could not back a proposed rail tunnel through Tysons Corner because the federal government probably woudn't agree to pay part of the project's cost if the tunnel was chosen. So instead, the new Tysons Metrorail line will be elevated. That was hardly...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 11, 2006; 8:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , transit  
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