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Get There: September 16, 2007 - September 22, 2007

What Looks Better?

We talk so much here about commuting problems. From time to time, I like to ask for your views on what has gotten better. Now that you've had a chance to settle into the full-tilt September commuting pattern, have you found that any of the projects completed or programs implemented over the summer have made your travels any better? Transportation agencies have completed projects large and small over the past few months. Probably the two biggest were the Springfield Interchange and the Frederick Douglass Bridge rehabilitation. Maryland wrapped up the big paving project on I-270 and made enough progress on the repainting of the American Legion Bridge that it was able to eliminate that vexing staging area that blocked the merge from the George Washington Parkway. The Briggs Chaney Road interchange on Route 29 was completed. Virginia finished up its widening project on Linton Hall Road and the reconstruction of...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 20, 2007; 10:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Are You Typical?

If you think your commute is typical, The Post would like to talk to you about it. Let us ask you a couple of questions about the experience and maybe get a picture of you to include with the story. Don't back away because you think it's one of those Washington Post things where we're looking for mothers of 12 who commute from Delaware to their jobs as assistant secretaries of defense after dropping the kids at five schools. That half hour Metro ride across the Potomac, that drive down 270 to Bethesda, that bus ride up Route 5 to downtown Washington, that would do just fine. You tell the story of our commutes better than statistics. If you can help us, please send an e-mail to our transportation editor, Steven Ginsberg, at ginsbergs@washpost.com....

By Robert Thomson  |  September 19, 2007; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Future Not All Bleak

A few hours after the Texas Transportation Institute released its gloomy list pegging us at number 2 for most delayed travel, a group from government, the private sector and academia assembled at the 2941 Restaurant in Falls Church to offer a generally positive assessment of the future. The session, a discussion of "Planes, Trains and HOT Lanes" sponsored by the Reed Smith law firm, was one of the many transportation forums that are held in Northern Virginia, where business leaders are acutely aware of the threat that congestion poses for the local economy. Pierce Homer, the Virginia transportation secretary who knows this region so well, painted a picture of progress -- some of it realized through projects like the Springfield interchange reconstruction, but much of it yet to come. A region now growing by two Manassases a year, he said, has long had trouble getting the state government in Richmond...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 19, 2007; 7:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Congestion  
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How Bad Is Bad?

Most traffic reporters, politicians and transportation issue advocates wait for this day, when the Texas Transportation Institute releases it's assessment of the travel problems in urban areas across the nation. They put it in a simple package for us: Just find your metropolitan area on the list and see whether you've gone from bad to badder. According to the study released today, which is based on traffic data from 2005, we've moved into a tie with San Francisco-Oakland as the region with the second worst traffic delays in the United States. Only Los Angeles beats us in a contest we would prefer not to win. But now that you know that, what do you know? "The good news is that there are multiple strategies involving traffic operations and public transit available right now that if applied together, can lessen this problem," said the study's co-author, Tim Lomax, in a statement...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 18, 2007; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion  
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Traffic and Transit Advisories

Through the summer, a critical mass of advisories would build up for posting by the end of each week, but here in September, there are many transit developments and road construction reports that you'd better see them right away. Here's what's going on: Forecast on Fours By the end of this month, Metro says, there will be no more four-car trains during rush periods. Blue and Yellow Line riders, accustomed to cramming aboard the shortest trains in the transit system, will instead find all the trains have six cars. Metro is accomplishing this by adding 18 rail cars to those lines. That will allow the transit authority to convert seven four-car Blue Line trains and one four-car Yellow Line train to six cars during the morning and afternoon rush. Metro says the entire system will have a total of 800 cars operating during rush periods, thanks to the 106 cars...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 18, 2007; 5:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Staying Here and Staying Mobile

The Post ran a very interesting series on growing older in Washington that is relevant to our discussions on transportation. On Sunday, Annie Gowen pointed out that in two decades, one of every four drivers will be a senior citizen. She talked with a Falls Church retiree named Rita Turner who decided she was too old to drive, gave up her car and now regrets it every day, because it's so difficult to get around the suburbs without an automobile. In today's paper, Fredrick Kunkle focused on life in the aging suburb of Fort Hunt in Fairfax County and a gas station that figured out it had to offer more full service pumps to help out people no longer comfortable using the self service. Whenever I talk with retirees and senior citizens, their questions are similar: They want to know how they can stay here and stay mobile. Some of...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 17, 2007; 8:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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