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Get There: December 2, 2007 - December 8, 2007

The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some notes about local travel this weekend and some planning information for next week. Friday Road Conditions The forecast warns of a light wintery mix today and the temperature is hovering around the freezing point, so while the roads may appear clear, watch out for the possibility that some patches may be slick, particularly on bridges and overpasses, which were such a problem during Wednesday's storm. Because of the bad weather, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will not have the usual two-way traffic on one span during the Friday afternoon peak, but this safety precaution probably will increase travel times for people heading home that way. Weekend Metrorail Delays The track maintenance and rail car testing program will slow service on all the lines. This page on Metro's Web site describes the impact on each line. But Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel sent along this update about work on the...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 7, 2007; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic, Transit Congestion

The street closings around the Ellipse and White House for the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony begin at about 3 p.m. today, and will cause heavy traffic congestion in the heart of the District. The tree lighting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Key closing: Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th streets from about 4 to 6:30 p.m. These are the Metrobus routes likely to be delayed and detoured: 13A, 13B, 13F, 13G, H1, L1, P1 and X1. The Maryland Transit Administration announced it is going to detour some of its commuter buses this afternoon. 907 & 995 Route Detours: 19th Street to left on H Street to right on 14th Street to left on Constitution Avenue. Stops not served: 19th between Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street. and 19th Street and E Street. 929 Route Detour Constitution to right on 14th to left on I (Eye) Street. to right on 18th...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 6, 2007; 2:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Snow Traveling

Driving around at midafternoon, I noticed that the commenters on the previous blog entry offer up to the minute advice: Visibility and speed are likely to be the traffic problems as you head home. Pavement on the Beltway's outer loop in Silver Spring was clear. (Robert Thomson) Knock the snow off your car, including the roof, for your sake and that of your fellow drivers. And turn your headlights on. The main roads I traveled were in pretty good shape. But conditions can change quickly. An easy drive on a main road can become problematic as you cross a bridge or overpass, where you may quickly encounter snow, slush or ice. That and poor visibility are two good reasons to keep speeds down this afternoon. Here's University Boulevard, also looking good. (Robert Thomson) And don't let the relatively good conditions on the main roads deceive you about what you'll encounter...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 5, 2007; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Weather  
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Weather and Other Advisories

Main roads remain clear, but the snow is falling more heavily in many areas than it was during your morning commute. If you made it to work just fine, don't get over confident about the afternoon trip. Be particularly careful on bridges and overpasses. Camera views show them starting to turn white with snow in some areas. Metro The trains are slow this morning, because two seasons have come together: We've got snow and leaves falling on the tracks. If your trip involves above ground stations, build in extra time. The train speeds have been cut to 30 mph from the normal operating speed of 55 mph. Bus service will vary with your route. You may very well be waiting longer than usual, and your bus may detour around slippery or blocked roadways. Don't count on the "Next Bus" system of real-time schedule information, even if you're seeing signs for...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 5, 2007; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Weather  
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Metro Testing Rail Cars

Metrorail today launched a few new test cars that incorporate some of the design elements that could help save wear and tear on the trains and increase their capacity and comfort. That will be partly for you to decide. Here's what to look for: -- In rail cars 6104 and 6105, there's no carpet on the floors. Metro is testing a new, resilient material as flooring. It's supposed to last longer and be easier to clean. The transit authority says it will check the material every day to make sure it's holding up and also will get rider reaction. Grab bars are placed along ceiling rails to reach shorter riders. (Metro photo) These test cars also have stainless steel grab bars overhead. These should help out shorter commuters who have been complaining that the newest cars, the 6000 series don't have enough convenient places for standees to get a grip....

By Robert Thomson  |  December 4, 2007; 1:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Metro  
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New Figures For Purple Line

The Purple Line transitway across Montgomery and Prince George's counties would take people on as many as 47,000 trips a day and get them between Bethesda and New Carrollton in 46 minutes, according to a study distributed last night by the Maryland Transit Administration. Michael D. Madden, the state's manager for the project, said the ridership estimates compare well with those of other such projects across the nation. That will be important -- as the Dulles rail project shows us -- when Maryland asks the federal government to help finance construction. Those ridership and time estimates are for the high-end version of the project: a light rail system that might cost $1.79 billion, according to the study. At the lower end, the state could invest $105 million in improvements to the existing transit system, upgrading bus service and traffic controls for an estimated 108 minutes of travel time between Bethesda...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 4, 2007; 7:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  transit  
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Central Avenue Bridge Reopens

Commuters from Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties can end three and a half months of detours around a bridge over the Patuxent River. The Maryland State Highway Administration announced the reopening of the Central Avenue span today. Cleanup work is going to continue for several weeks, the SHA said in a statement, but the rebuilt bridge is open to traffic. Also, there will be some single lane closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. for about a week. The bridge, built in 1925, was carrying 11,000 vehicles a day when the state shut it down for extensive repairs that included replacement of corroded steel plates, installation of a new concrete deck and repainting. The project cost $3 million....

By Robert Thomson  |  December 3, 2007; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction  
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Purple Line Planning Tonight

The Maryland Transit Administration is beginning a round of open houses tonight to update the public on planning for the Purple Line, one of two transit lines I hope will be built across the suburbs north of Washington during the next decade. Signs at 2006 campaign rally in Langley Park. (Robert Thomson) The Purple Line would be either a light rail or bus rapid transit system linking Bethesda with Silver Spring and New Carrollton. The planning process is a mini-version of what Virginia is going through in launching the rail line through Tysons Corner to Dulles. Project managers must pick a route and prove to the federal goverment that the cost per passenger will justify a federal contribution to the construction program. Like the Virginia project, the Purple Line isn't just about moving people. It also is an opportunity to focus suburban development on transit stations, reshaping communities to meet...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 3, 2007; 8:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (67)
Categories:  transit  
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