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Get There: June 17, 2007 - June 23, 2007

Virginians Debate Transportation Authority

A couple of dozen people in Leesburg last night offered their opinions on a new taxing and spending program that eventually could affect the travels of hundreds of thousands in Northern Virginia. Despite the relatively small number of speakers, considering the potential impact of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, they outlined some of the basic hopes and tensions that have surrounded the startup of a plan to improve road and rail travel across the suburbs. There will be two more such forums in Falls Church and Manassas next week, leading to a very important meeting of the transportation authority in Falls Church on July 12. The authority will hold a public hearing on the seven new taxes and fees that could be used to finance transportation spending, discuss an initial list of investments and consider financing those investments through authority-issued bonds. Here's a summary of what people talked about last...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 22, 2007; 6:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Transportation Authority Moving Quickly

Northern Virginians will have a set of chances, beginning tonight, to learn about a new form of regional government and to say what they want it to do with their money. These are the town hall sessions to discuss the workings of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, which is empowered to impose taxes on local jurisdictions to provide them with road and transit improvements. There's nothing quite like it in Maryland or the District. The regional authority was set up by the Virginia General Assembly and Gov. Mark Warner in 2002 and would have spent money raised by the proposed transportation tax, but the tax was defeated in a referendum that November. But this spring, Gov. Timothy Kaine and the legislature created a new financing plan for transportation improvements and empowered the authority to raise and spend money. Since then the panel has been rushing to carry out its mandate....

By Robert Thomson  |  June 21, 2007; 8:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Metro's New Boss Faces Challenges

The start of Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr.'s term got caught up in widespread concerns about a spate of accidents involving buses and pedestrians. Yesterday, as his staff handed summaries to reporters of what had been accomplished during his first 100 days, he was explaining a major failure on the Green Line that stalled thousands of commuters during the morning rush. Sometimes during these few months, he said, he had asked himself what he was doing here. "But then I realized what I was doing here," Catoe said. He was here "to fix what was broken." Yesterday's status report on the trains and buses got caught up in the crisis of the moment on the Green Line, which you can read about in Lena Sun's story today. With 37,422 travelers aboard the Green Line during the morning rush, Metro's boss realized the importance of directly addressing their frustrations....

By Robert Thomson  |  June 20, 2007; 8:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Free Rides on Green Line This Afternoon

Metro is taking the highly unusual step of offering free rides this afternoon to its Green Line riders, following the extensive delays caused by this morning's power problems. (See story on our Web site.) "Green Line riders will receive free rides this afternoon from 3:30 to 7 p.m. to help make up for the poor service this morning," Metro General Manager John Catoe said in a statement. Green Line service was disrupted from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. because of power problems near Fort Totten. Four trains had to be taken out of service. A separate power problem knocked out a train between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom during the morning rush. Power has been restored and full service should be available on all lines. "We apologize for this morning's delays," Catoe said in the statement. "Many Metro employees experienced the same delays on their way to work this morning and...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 19, 2007; 4:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  
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Your Traveling Week

Here are some notes I hope will help you plan your travels and keep your personal temperature down during this summery week: Metro The Green Line has been a mess since four trains experienced power problems during the morning rush between Fort Totten and West Hyattsville. Since power problems can be brought on by the stress of high temperatures, Metro is monitoring the entire system to see if it needs to make any adjustments in service this afternoon. You may recall that last summer, the time between trains was lengthened during heat waves to make sure that overall service was not interrupted. Metro also is doing routine inspections of the tracks to avoid heat problems. (See MARC item below.) Bad Air, Free Rides Tuesday is another Code Orange Day, indicating poor air quality, which means that buses are free in Northern Virginia. Legion Bridge I've been describing the shortened merge...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 18, 2007; 9:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Fairfax Votes For Tysons Rail

The Fairfax County Board voted 8 to 2 this afternoon to help finance construction of a new Metrorail line through Tysons Corner, a crucial step in the county's effort to focus its development on transit stations and move away from its dependence on automobiles. Commuters in Tysons, where 100,000 people work, could see signs of the project as early as September, when workers are scheduled to begin relocating utilities to clear the way for rail line construction along Routes 123 and 7. But several other steps still must occur: The Metro board must agree this month to take control of the rail line when the construction out to Wiehle Avenue is done in 2013, and the Federal Transit Administration must agree to finance $900 million of the $2.647 billion project after a review likely to be done by the end of August. The Fairfax Board today agree to contribute $400...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 18, 2007; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Maryland Sets New Commuter Bus Schedules

The Maryland Transit Administration has announced its plans to deal with the July-August shutdown of the Frederick Douglass Bridge on South Capitol Street, a major commuter route into Washington. The MTA's decision is the last part of the transit plan for a construction project that probably will give drivers fits. They'll be diverted to the 11th Street Bridge, East Capitol Street, Benning Road and New York Avenue, none of which is likely to be congestion free, even in the middle of summer. Metro already had announced its bus route changes. Now MTA says that after listening to passengers, it has decided to bring some of its routes into the Branch Avenue and Suitland Metrorail stations for those who wish to transfer to the subway, but continue in and out of dowtown Washington for the other riders willing to tough it out through the congestion. (The buses will be stuck in...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 18, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Construction  
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