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Traffic and Transit Developments Everywhere

This has been an unusually active week for traffic and transit planners and the travelers who have a stake in their decisions. Here are some highlights:

-- John B. Catoe Jr. was sworn in Thursdays as Metro's new general manager. "It's good to be home," said Catoe, 59, a Washington native who most recently worked for the Los Angeles transit system. He said he would soon make announcements on making Metro safer, although he did declare his belief that the system is safe now, despite this month's derailment and the deaths of several track workers.

-- Montgomery County residents presented their transportation requests to the County Council on Thursday night. The two hour session was dominated by what many speakers said they didn't want: the intercounty connector. Things the speakers said they do want included the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway, the long-awaited Brookeville Bypass and a way into the Forest Glen Station that doesn't require riders to cross six lanes of traffic on Georgia Avenue. It will be a struggle for Maryland to finance all these needed projects.

-- Virginians attended a hearing on proposals to improve traffic flow on westbound I-66 inside the Beltway. Many Arlingtonians at the meeting didn't like that idea. Such forums rarely draw many travelers who commute along whatever roadway is under discussion. Project managers are considering: 1) an extension of the on-ramp from Fairfax Drive to Sycamore Street, 2) an extension of the acceleration lane from Washington Boulevard to the Dulles Airport Access Highway and the addition of a lane on the Washington Boulevard on-ramp, and 3) an extension of the on-ramp from Route 29 to Glebe Road.

-- The District announced that the Frederick Douglass Bridge, an important commuter route for travelers on the eastern side of the region, will be shut down during July and August. Engineers will lower the northernmost part of the roadway -- the elevated part -- down to street level as part of an effort to knit that waterfront neighborhood together and improve this urban gateway. Traffic will be detoured up to the 11th Street Bridge. Some fixes to the bridge will require partial shutdowns on weekends between now and the summer. Those begin at 10 a.m. today. See details here along with a map of the inbound detour.

-- The Fairfax County Board approved construction of huge new residential and office towers at Tysons Corner, even as a citizens panel was meeting Monday night to prepare a year's worth of public involvement in redesigning Tysons. Tough way to plan. Things will be even tougher for travelers on Routes 123 and 7 in the next five years. I plan to talk more about that in Sunday's Dr. Gridlock column.

-- Virginia legislators began their debate over the Republican transportation plan, which would provide more money for Metro and empower the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to finance road and transit projects, as long as the region's jurisdictions approved ways of raising the revenue for it. The plan doesn't contain enough money, and their are some tricky details involved in distributing planning authority, but it's a good start and an opportunity that may not come again for years.

We can talk more about this and the many other tranportation topics in the news during a Live Online at 1 p.m. Monday. You can submit questions and comments now by using this link.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 26, 2007; 8:10 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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Next: More Information From Metro


This morning a colleague called in to the office to report that the Red Line train she was in had a fire at Farragut North and left to get a cab. I checked the Metro web site at the time and there was no alert on this, nor was there ever that I could find. Let the coverup begin.

Posted by: Alexandria user | January 26, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

There were NO announcements in the station at Shady Grove. THe first we knew of a problem was after the train sat just outside Twinbrook for 10 minutes (with a train in front of us also sitting). The driver finally announced a fire at Farragut, but no additional information. It took over an hour to go from Twinbrook to Union Station.

I wish Metro would get a clue--TELL us what is going on. Please.

Posted by: another red line rider | January 26, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Yay, fairfax county board, for continuing to recognize that you have NO idea what to do with tysons. AGAIN, when presented with an opportunity to directly force the developer who is adding to the traffic nightmare, you do NOTHING. When the mall owners announced they would expand and add 3,000 more trips per day to the mall, what did you have the owners do? Nothing. Now that the mall owners will add another 10,000 trips per day to the immediate area? Oh yes, nothing again. Routes 7 and 123 and Gallows Road and Spring Hill, the only pathetic ways in and out, aren't going to be improved at all, much less before a shovel is allowed to be stuck in the ground? I hope they all asphyxiate on the CO2 poisoning they create with the additional gridlock in tysons.

Posted by: Fairfax board useless | January 26, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

For the I-66 Westbound problems - here's a cheap idea. The DTR exit is actually two lanes, the rightmost and center. Is this signed visibly anywhere by VDOT? No, of course not. So everyone cuts off everyone else to frantically try to get all the way over to the right lane only to magically discover that both the right and center lanes can exit onto the DTR. The arrow on the sign clearly points to only the RIGHT lane being the exit.

(Yes, approximately 500 feet before the right turn exit begins, there is a tiny white with black arrow sign indicating this, but that's too little, too late, the traffic has already backed up due to the aforementioned lack of NOTICEABLE signage. Oh, and the trees tend to cover up that one once spring arrives.)

How many studies would VDOT need to do to have a sign that said both Center and Right Lanes can exit to the DTR? How much could this possibly cost to add an additional arrow to the existing overhead sign?

VDOT signage is pathetic. For that matter, so is VDOT.

Posted by: nocando | January 26, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Who is the brainiac who came up with the plan to close the Douglass bridge? While drivers from the south have other options, this will eliminate the only viable inbound connection from the northeast. New York Avenue is overtaxed already, and Benning Craterpath, er, Road, is in severe disrepair. And does East Capitol even connect to a major inbound road without resorting to a GPS navigation system? There should have been a direct connection constructed from 295 to 395/Pennsylvania Avenue before the stadium construction ever began, and long before the projected 2010 construction. Now the stadium is a done deal and will soon overburden South Capitol Street even more than it is now. Looks like I will have to take vacation in July-August, because commuting is going to be a nightmare.

Posted by: Lowell Skelton | January 28, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

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