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Get There: January 6, 2008 - January 12, 2008

The Weekend and Beyond

HOV Change Starting Monday, drivers must be in three-person carpools to use the HOV lane section between Duke Street and Springfield between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. That segment had been open to all drivers since 1982, to help ease congestion around the Springfield interchange. Now that the interchange has been rebuilt to improve traffic flow, Virginia has decided to restore HOV rules. State transportation officials say 2,500 non-HOV vehicles were using the lanes in this section. Half probably will use the regular through lanes of Interstate 395 and half will use the local lanes, to exit at Springfield. Peak volumes on the HOV lanes likely will drop by 30 percent, while peak volumes on regular lanes through the interchange likely will increase by 8 percent, the state says. Red Line Weekends Metro is replacing a switch outside Medical Center Station in Bethesda. This weekend, the work is scheduled to...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 11, 2008; 12:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro Looking at New Cars

The next generation of Metrorail cars, which could be about five years away, will be a sharp break from the design of the past four decades. Side view of new interior. (Metro photo) Metro managers made their first, very preliminary presentation about this today to the transit authority board. I'll show you the pictures they displayed, and they should be fun to talk about, but don't think of the design specifics as set. As board members pointed out, they can have a dozen meetings just to discuss redesign of the Metro logo, let alone how the interior of the cars should look. [See story by Lena H. Sun in Friday's Post.] More significant is the basic concept: In buying new generations of rail cars, Metro has sought to make each new series compatible with the previous series. That gives transit managers more flexibility when they put together the four-car, six-car...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 10, 2008; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  Metro  
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Repairs Will Slow Red Line Travel

This is a special alert for Metro's Red Line riders about delays likely to occur on weekends during the next month. The transit authority does some form of track maintenance every weekend, which slows down travel because trains must take turns sharing a single track around the work. This is bigger: Metro will be replacing a switch outside the Medical Center Station in Bethesda. The work required is extensive and the impact significant. So Metro decided to do it during the winter weekends, when ridership is lower, but it will take four weekends to finish. This is the work schedule: -- 9 p.m. Friday to midnight Sunday. -- 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, to midnight Sunday, Jan. 27. (Skipping over the MLK Day weekend.) -- 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, to midnight Sunday, Feb. 3. -- 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, to midnight Sunday, Feb. 10. During those time periods,...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2008; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Metro  
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Updates on Road and Transit Concerns

Here's news about three current issues affecting many drivers and transit users. Lane Closures on I-66 Westbound Do the terms "inbound" and "outbound" mean much anymore in a region with as many job centers as ours? The Virginia Department of Transportation has further restricted the work scheduled for the westbound lanes of Interstate 66 inside the Beltway, because the traffic congestion in the supposedly off-peak and outbound lanes was too severe. VDOT crews have been drilling for sound walls that might be built as part of the plan for spot widenings that could occur along those westbound lanes. Mike Salmon, a VDOT spokesman, said in an e-mail to me that "Due to traffic delays, we are halting work until the spring or summer so we can work in the evenings, after rush hour. For the rest of the week, we have a modified schedule for the same area along I-66...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2008; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Comment Time on Transportation Agenda

That newly powerful transportation authority -- the one that just started taxing many of you in Northern Virginia -- is holding a hearing Thursday night to let people comment on what you'll get for your money over the next few years. These are the initial highway, transit, bike and pedestrian projects to be financed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, whose empowerment was the most meaningful product of last year's tumultuous session of the General Assembly. There's a seven-page-long list of projects on the authority's Web site. The hearing is at George Mason High School Auditorium, 7124 Leesburg Pike, in Falls Church. It starts at 6 p.m. Thursday. People who want to speak have until 7 p.m. to sign up. Individuals will be able to speak for three minutes, while those representing organizations can speak for five minutes. The authority members also are going to vote to confirm John Mason,...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2008; 5:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (351)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Traffic Delays on I-66 in Arlington

Virginia Department of Transportation crews are drilling holes for retaining walls near Westmoreland Street (Exit 68 on Interstate 66), requiring some late-morning lane closures on the westbound side that are likely to result in heavy traffic congestion this week. Each morning this week, from 10 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m., expect to find the two right lanes and the right shoulder closed in the westbound direction. That schedule should hold as long as the weather is okay. VDOT says it will put out an updated schedule for more work that must be done as part of this effort, which is part of the study for the proposed spot improvements along westbound I-66 inside the Beltway....

By Robert Thomson  |  January 8, 2008; 5:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Construction  
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Feeling the Fares?

How was your Metro ride this morning? Did the commute feel more luxurious, now that you're paying more? On a Red Line ride from Glenmont to Farragut North, I would not have been able to tell the new fares and fees are in effect until I smacked my SmarTrip card against the fare gate at Farragut North and saw "$4.00" on the readout. People who park at Glenmont won't pay the new $4.75 fee until they leave this evening. I heard no announcements in the station. The fare calculator sign at the station manager's kiosk was new, but still in that really tiny type, so you'd have to look closely to notice the new charges. (And I didn't see anyone doing that.) The station manager was helping some people figure out how to buy SmarTrip cards at the one of two vending machines that was in working order. But there...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 7, 2008; 9:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Metro  
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