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Transportation Tips

Getting Away
Stay cool out there. This is likely to be the toughest day for traffic congestion during the holiday period. It's a big getaway day for families. During the afternoon and evening, those long distance travelers will be sharing the roads with homeward bound commuters. Saturday is likely to be the second busiest travel day of the holidays, according to a traveler survey conducted by AAA.

Wilson Bridge
If you're planning to sneak back late from an out-of-town Christmas, watch for some potential delays at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Wednesday and Thursday nights between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The drawbridges will be opened and closed several times for testing each night.

Holiday Lane Closures
The state transportation departments in Maryland and Virginia will suspended their temporary lane closures for the holidays. In Virginia, the closures will end at noon Monday and resume at noon on Wednesday. They will be suspended again from noon on New Year's Eve until noon on Jan. 2. Maryland isn't planning any lane closures until Dec. 27 and Dec. 28. Then it will again suspend closures until Jan. 2

Metro Weekend Work
The holiday's are here, but the weekend track work goes on. Track maintenance and rail car testing on the Red, Blue, Orange and Green lines this weekend will cause delays for passengers as trains share a single track through the work zones. Here's a link to all the details on Metro's Web site.

Metro's Holiday Schedule
Metrorail and Metrobus will operate on a regular weekday schedule Christmas Eve, a Sunday schedule on Christmas Day, a regular weekday schedule with a 2 a.m. closing on New Year's Eve and a Sunday schedule on New Year's Day.

MARC's Holiday Schedule
Christmas Eve: Holiday Service
Christmas Day: No Service
Dec. 26, 27, 28: Regular Service
New Year's Eve: Holiday Service
New Year's Day: No Service

VRE's Holiday Schedule
Christmas Eve: "S" Schedule
Christmas Day: No Service
Dec. 26, 27, 28: Regular Service
New Year's Eve: "S" Schedule
New Year's Day: No Service

Loading SmarTrip
The IRS is increasing the allowable size of the transportation fringe benefit to $115 on Jan. 1. Many people will be pushing their pre-tax payroll deductions up to that new limit and loading the amount directly onto their SmarTrip electronic fare cards. So remember that the limit on how much the cards will hold is still $300.
Of course, many commuters will find the cards draining faster than they used to when the new Metrorail and parking fees take effect during the second week of January.

Stories of Goodness
Did anything good happen to you on the roads or rails this year? That's not often our topic, but I'm looking to share a litlte peace with readers as we end 2007, and maybe cast a hopeful eye toward 2008. So if you have a personal story about a good Samaritan or just have some transportation improvement to remind us about, send an e-mail to me at

By Robert Thomson  |  December 21, 2007; 5:02 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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Next: Two Highway Projects Advance


Everyone warns of traffic today, but it's funny, this morning's commute was the easiest this week; I even managed to reach 6th gear on I-395. Be interesting to see how this afternoon shapes up.

Posted by: Rich | December 21, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Same with me. I didn't drop below 50 MPH on outbound I-66 through Arlington at 8:45 this morning!

I wonder why Metro is operating on a full weekday schedule on Monday, with Federal workers off and everything....

Posted by: Woodley Park | December 21, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why Metro is operating ona full weekday schedule on Monday and New Year's, but I sure am grateful because I have to work. The last thing I want to do on Christmas Eve is wait half an hour for a train! I think holidays are the only time of year when metro gets its service right.

Posted by: 22304 | December 21, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Dr. G asked if anything good happened on the roads this year, and I can say that for me, it has. Every day that I need to merge onto Route 50 westbound from Wilson Blvd., someone politely slows down to let me into the heavy traffic, slow-moving traffic. Every time! The 7 Corners area is brutal to drive through, but I've observed so much of this polite behavior there that I'm inclined to believe there is hope for mankind.

Posted by: ~sg | December 21, 2007 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Driving out to Fairfax on Monday evening, I found it odd that the express lanes on I-95 were running northbound at around 5:30 PM. It certainly hadn't been publicized, and the commuter bus driver ahead of me obviously didn't know about it because he was trying to back up when he found the ramp blocked at the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. (That's how I was affected even though I wasn't taking the highway--everyone else slowed to a crawl because of the bus backing up.) Weird stuff.

20-minute commute to downtown today from outside the Beltway, 70 mph the whole way (with a brief hiccup when the dolt ahead of me slowed down because there was a cop with someone pulled over in the express lanes, presumably an HOV violator). Too bad the traffic can't be like this all year.

Posted by: Rich | December 26, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Rich, According to WTOP's report on Monday, the HOV lanes on I-95 were open for northbound traffic from last Saturday afternoon until after this morning's rushhour. The lanes were not open to southbound traffic Monday afternoon because Monday was a federal holiday. I didn't know (until 2 days ago) that the I-95 HOV schedule was in accordance with federal holidays. Learn something everyday...

It'll be interesting to see whether the same rule is applied for other federal holidays coming up such as MLK and Presidents Day?

Posted by: xyv1027 | December 26, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

On King Day and Washington's Birthday the HOV rules are not normally in effect, but they do reverse the lanes.

Evidently VDOT didn't do a very good job of publicizing the change for this past Monday if the commuter bus drivers didn't know the express lanes were running north around 5:00 PM.

Posted by: Rich | December 26, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

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