Buses on Bacon Still a Problem
Leslie Douglas, who leaves her office at 18th and I streets in time to reach Henry Bacon Drive at about 5 p.m. each weekday, was among many readers who wrote in to say that the buses are back. "It is consistently a disaster trying to get through that area each afternoon," Douglas wrote.
These are the tour buses that bring visitors to the Lincoln Memorial area each day. Only they're not supposed to be there on Bacon Drive when Douglas and the other letter writers are on their way home.
"They chronically block the right lane near the new "visitors center" -- yesterday there were 4 of them lined up -- and traffic is forced to use the left lane only," Douglas said. "This, of course, backs traffic onto Constitution Avenue and thus the domino-theory begins. There were no police anywhere in sight."
We talked about this problem last fall on the blog and in my Dr. Gridlock column in The Post, so I went back out to check. First I saw that the signs on Bacon are the same. Buses are barred from unloading and loading on the outbound side of Bacon Drive between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
It's a logical rule, because those on the hours when homebound commuters are turning left onto the two lanes of Bacon Drive to reach the Lincoln Memorial circle and the Memorial Bridge. Virginia-bound cars fill up those two lanes under normal circumstances, but the presence of a stopped bus is enough to create a rush hour chokepoint.
What I saw on Tuesday, between 4:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.: About a half dozen buses pulled up to the unloading zone in the right hand lane and discharged passengers, near the National Park Service cafe. Some would unload passengers, then drive off and return later to pick up passengers.
It wasn't the same scene as last fall, when as many as five buses would be parked in that zone, waiting for their passengers to return after a visit to the Lincoln or Vietnam memorials. But one stopped bus is good enough for a pretty extensive tieup. The intersection of Constitution and Bacon goes into gridlock. Not only is the outbound traffic heavy onto Bacon Drive and 23rd Street, but also there is plenty of inbound traffic coming over the Roosevelt Bridge.
We need the National Park Service to enforce the rules that help balance the interests of tourists and commuters.
(Separate situation, but same effect on commuters: There also were plenty of cars still parked during afternoon rush at the meters on the outbound side of 23rd Street north of Constitution. That's just not right, them tying up that lane.)
The other issue we've talked about in this area is the traffic at the Lincoln circle, so I watched that too. The two lights there, one at Bacon and the other at 23rd, seemed to be handling the vehicle and pedestrian traffic pretty well. This of course, is cherry blossom time, so there were plenty of people on foot. Pushing the walk sign button gets the pedestrians 20 seconds to cross.
From where I was standing, it looked like the best bet for an outbound driver on Constitution would be to skip Bacon and go up one block, to make the left turn onto 23rd Street. That would avoid the buses and the need to go through the extra light at the circle. Traffic on the section of 23rd that parallels Bacon was always flowing pretty smoothly during the time I watched on Tuesday. But I don't do this day after day, as some of you do. What other factors are involved in making the best of that outbound commute?
Posted by: Steve | April 4, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Andy | April 4, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jon H. | April 4, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: VA Commuter | April 4, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: acorn | April 4, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: STick | April 4, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: SoMD | April 5, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.