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.
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