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Get There: February 11, 2007 - February 17, 2007

Assessing Tuesday's Early Rush Hour

I've gotten a few letters in the past 48 hours complaining about the impact the federal shutdown had on travelers on Tuesday afternoon. My own experience was on the roads: Driving on the inner loop of the Beltway -- well not driving, exactly, more like listening to the radio with the heater on -- as lines of entering cars halted traffic shortly after 2 p.m. The mailbag contained this typical note from a Metro rider. Dear Dr. Gridlock: On Tuesday when the federal government decided to close at 2 p.m. because of the winter storm, did they notify Metro of the decision? Was there anything Metro could've done to get more or longer trains or both into the system to handle the sudden crush of passengers? After 9/11 and the rush to evacuate the city center, one would think that there would be improved coordination between federal officials and local...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 16, 2007; 8:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion  
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Seeking Commuter Advice on Storms

Drivers, with the snow and ice storm fresh in your minds, what are the chronic trouble spots that people newer to the area should be warned about? I'd like to compile traveler suggestions into a warning list we can use in advance of future storms. Seems to me there might be two categories on this: -- Places that are normally just fine but turn nasty during very bad weather. That might be a highway overpass or ramp that tends to freeze earlier than the rest of a roadway, or a dip in the road where water tends to collect and freeze. -- Places that are normally bad for traffic and should flat out be avoided during a storm. This might be a crowded spot on your everyday commute where many drivers are trying to change lanes, and one mistake can create a dangerous situation or at least a long-lasting jam....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 15, 2007; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Weather  
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New Way to Monitor D.C. Snow Clearing

Check out a new way of monitoring the progress of snow clearing equipment in the District. The District Department of Transportation has launched a pilot project on its Web site so people can see what the city's snow crews are doing on the streets. DDOT says the goal is to create a stream of information for the public to see how and when road surfaces are treated during a winter storm, and the department wants your feedback. The site can be found at www.ddot.dc.gov. Click on "Snow Plan," then click on "Snow Automatic Vehicle Locator." Or click on this link to take you there. One thing you'll notice is that this system doesn't do primary roads, like Connecticut or Wisconsin avenues, that are maintained by contractors rather than DDOT crews. You can tell the city what you think of this new information and accountability system by using this e-mail: customerservice.ddot@dc.gov....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 14, 2007; 6:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Weather  
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Road Conditions Vary

Just drove from Gainesville to Silver Spring on I-66 and the Beltway. Watch out: Conditions on the road surface can vary dramatically in a very short distance. You might be driving along quite happily in a misty rain when suddenly you'll notice little white pellets bouncing off the hood. You'll look at the roadway ahead and notice that it has turned from black to gray. That happened to me over very short stretches on I-66, but the biggest change occurred when I swung onto the Beltway and headed toward the Legion Bridge. The Beltway was bad right away -- and crowded. That stretch from the bridge up around I-270 and along the merge with Rockville Pike traffic normally difficult but this was worse. It's partly what's falling from the sky, partly the surface temp and road treatment, partly the early dismissal of federal workers. If you find yourself on a...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 13, 2007; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Driving  
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Imperfect Solutions Better Than None

Post staff writer Alec MacGillis offers a very good summary of the issues involved in building the rail line through Tysons to Dulles. Big projects like this rarely turn out to be just about getting people from one place to another. The rail line clearly is also about organizing people: organizing where they live and work and how they shop. Meanwhile, in Richmond, the General Assembly is still trying to get organized, as staff writer Mike Shear tells us in today's Post. It's unclear what, if any, transportation plan will emerge by the time the annual legislative session ends this month, but there's still a chance. That debate also is not just about getting people from one place to another. The bill we write the most about is House Bill 3202, the one sponsored by Speaker Bill Howell. Look at the italic parts. That's the new stuff. See how much...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2007; 9:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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