Travel Advisories for the September Return
The two biggest items that could have appeared among back to work travel advisories for the first week of September disappeared in late August, but there still are some things to watch for.
Douglass Bridge reopened
That's the top of the might-have-been category. The planned two-month closure of the South Capitol Street bridge ended last Thursday, a week ahead of schedule. The four Metrobus routes that had been adjusted because of the construction return today to the schedules and fares they had before construction began in July. Those routes are the A9, P17, P19 and W13.
Legion Bridge ramp reopened
Here's the second big might-have-been. The summer drought may have hurt your lawn, but it should be helping your commute today if you travel across the Potomac River bridge. While the bridge painting project continues, the work was far enough ahead of schedule to allow removal of the merge lane staging area that had slowed travel on the northbound George Washington Parkway and on the Beltway's inner loop near the bridge.
Rock Creek Parkway
At 10 a.m. today, the National Park Service closes the ramp from P Street onto the southbound parkway for construction that the park service expects will last until Sept. 25. The first phase of this lengthy construction project has been completed, and drivers can once again use the ramp from the southbound parkway onto P Street, the park service says.
Because of some recent weather delays, the next phase of work on the northbound Potomac Parkway ramp to the Whitehurst Freeway has been postponed until Sept. 14 and Sept. 28. A ramp closing for that repair work had been scheduled for this Friday, but has been canceled.
Grosvenor Lane Bridge
The Maryland State Highway Administration had hoped to reopen the bridge over I-270 by the end of August, but the new date for the end of the rehab project is Sept. 22. (Thanks to David Katz of Kensington and Aaron Lerner
of Silver Spring for writing in to remind me about this project.)
Ride On Bus schedule changes
Route 21 trip times have been adjusted to put the schedule is more in line with the actual time it takes to operate the bus in traffic. Route 22 offers more service to the FDA. It will leave the Silver Spring Metro station every 15 minutes in the morning and depart for Silver Spring station every 15 minutes in the afternoon. Route 61 buses will travel to Mercy Clinic and the Motor Vehicles Administration two additional times, leaving Shady Grove Metro and going toward the Germantown Transit Center. Here's a link to all the Ride On schedules. (And you can use the electronic SmarTrip card to pay for all fares.)
Constitution Avenue NE
The District changed the morning rush period traffic pattern through Capitol Hill. It's now two-way on Constitution all the time. This was done in response to complaints from the Capitol Hill neighborhood about safety for local drivers and pedestrians.
The right lane of the Beltway's inner loop between Route 1 and Telegraph Road will be closed for utility work Wednesday and Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 30PM, and on Friday between 9 a.m. and noon. The left lane of the outer loop in the same area will be closed for roadway construction Wednesday and Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Even though all the major construction of new lanes and ramps is done, there's still some minor work going on. For example, along I-95 North between the I-395 North split and the I-495 Eastbound merge, you'll find shoulder and single lane closures for sound barrier installation from noon to 3:30 pm today, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. The shoulder closures will be allowed today through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. as long as there is no problem with traffic.
Maryland Road Projects
-- The right lane and shoulder of Route 414 East between the ramp to the outer loop and South Road will be closed for roadway construction from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.
-- Alternating lanes of Livingston Road at I-95 will be closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday.
New Beltway ramps
During the summer, Maryland reconfigured two Beltway ramps. Use extra caution if as the heavy traffic returns to the Georgia Avenue exit from the inner loop, which now has a traffic signal at the foot of the ramp, and at the outer loop exit to University Boulevard, which now has four lanes (two for eastbound and two for westbound traffic) and a traffic signal to control all that. The old exit from the outer loop to eastbound University (Exit 29B) is closed.
Point of Rocks parking
This one's for MARC train riders: Because of construction at the old Point of Rocks lot, the parking will be limited between Sept. 10 and the end of the year. Look for the free shuttle bus from the satellite parking lot at Point of Rocks Road and Ballenger Creek Road, just east of Highway 15. The bus meets trains 876, 878 and 880.
Advice from readers
Readers responding to my request for suggestions on commuting during the fall tended to focus on safety issues. One thing we'll be getting used to again is the presence of school buses. Watch out for students crossing the streets in the school zones. And in Montgomery County, note that the police speed cameras will be out in some of those areas. The District is experimenting with an "all walk" traffic pattern at intersections near eight elementary schools across the city. At these spots, the traffic signals will go red in all directions and all pedestrians will have a "walk" indicator. The District will evaluate the setup to see if it improves safety.
Many people suggested reminding fellow commuters to turn their headlights on whenever they have to use their windshield wipers, to increase their visibility in bad weather. Also, with the days getting shorter, it's a good time to clean off all the windows and lights on your vehicle.
And watch for the season's changing conditions on the roadways, including the nasty chemistry that occurs when falling leaves mix with rain.
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