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Get There: January 27, 2008 - February 2, 2008

The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some traffic and transit advisories that could affect your travels this weekend or afterward. Red Line Work Metro's project to replace the rail switch at Medical Center Station continues this weekend and has one more weekend to go. Add at least 30 minutes to your Red Line travel time between Friendship Heights and Grosvenor-Strathmore. The work hours each weekend are 9 p.m. Friday to midnight Sunday. You'll find a full list of weekend work projects on the Red, Blue, Green and Orange rail lines in this listing on Metro's Web site. Sober Bowl On Sunday, 90 million people will spend the evening watching the Super Bowl, but way too many of them will hit the road after over-indulging at television parties. Local law enforcement will be watching. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that nearly 50 percent of all traffic fatalities during the 2007 Super Bowl weekend...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 1, 2008; 3:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Streetcars in DC's Future

A groundbreaking ceremony today at Benning Road and H Street NE brought together the people who make urban transportation projects happen: There was the mayor, the head of the department of transportation, some of his engineers and project managers, the local council member and business and civic leaders from the neighborhood. Rendering of corridor's Starburst intersection, with trolley. (DDOT image) The ceremony formally launched the rebuilding of the Benning Road/H Street corridor and the groundwork for a streetcar line that will run to Union Station. Like other transit projects such as the Purple Line, the Columbia Pike line and Dulles rail, it's not only about moving people more quickly and efficiently from one point to another -- important as that is. It's also about organizing the future of communities. In this case, Mayor Adrian Fenty, Transportation Director Emeka Moneme, Council Member Tommy Wells and many community leaders are working for...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 31, 2008; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (96)
Categories:  transit  
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Metro GM Talks About Service, Dulles Rail

General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., starting his second year in the job, cited progress with the system's safety and reliability but outlined several significant problem that still need attention. In a press conference this morning to mark his one year anniversary, he also defended the Dulles rail project against some of the criticisms the Federal Transit Administration leveled against it last week. He also confirmed that Metrorail ridership is up since the fare increases on Jan. 6 -- by 1 percent overall and 2.6 percent on weekdays, according to Metro staff -- but said it was a couple of months too early to make anything out of that. (See previous entry.) Thinking back on his first year, Catoe noted he had remarked to the Metro board "That was no honeymoon." When he took over last winter, fatal accidents involving Metro employees and pedestrians were raising widespread concern about the...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 30, 2008; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Metrorail Ridership Still Strong

During the hearings late last year on the Metro fare increases, many riders talked about the likelihood that people would abandon the trains and take to their cars in reaction to the biggest Metro fare increases ever. So far, I don't see such a trend in the ridership numbers that Metro posts on its Web site. An ideal world. (Metro photo) Now, of course, it's still early. The fare increases took effect on Jan. 6. But so far, the weekday ridership numbers are higher than on weekdays last January. One example from last week: On Thursday, Jan. 24, 722,390 Metrorail trips were recorded. On Jan. 24, 2007, which was a Wednesday, ridership totaled 719,701. From a week earlier: On Thursday, Jan. 17, rail ridership was 713,053. On the same date in 2007, it was 691,186. Ridership varies from day to day as well as year to year, and it's tough...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 30, 2008; 5:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Gov. Kaine Sticks by Dulles Rail

Gov. Tim Kaine hasn't given up on the project, despite the hard hit it took last week from Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson and his boss, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. He talked about the next step on Dulles rail this morning on WTOP's Ask the Governor show: "Our game plan: Work with the secretary's office, answer the questions that the administrator has raised and make this critical project happen." Kaine and other officials behind the project took the FTA's response last week as you might take an unfair performance evaluation at work, when it sounds like the bosses were saving stuff up to unload on you all at once. The person on the receiving end is bound to be thinking about all the times the bosses could have said some of these things, and wonder why they're piling on now. Kaine noted on the radio, as other Virginia leaders...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 29, 2008; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Alternatives to Congestion

The blog has focused a lot lately on the clash between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the effort to extend Metrorail out to Dulles, and it's certainly the top issue in local transportation at this moment. But heavy rail is just one of many options travelers need in a region as big and complex as ours. At a forum tonight in Manassas, we'll be talking about some of those other options. Three are in the planning stages here: bus rapid transit, a ferry service and high occupancy or toll (HOT) lanes. A fourth is working right now: The informal carpooling arrangement known as slugging. The forum, is sponsored by the Prince William Committee of 100, which begins the evening with a dinner, but there's no charge if you'd like to come for the panel, which starts at 7:45 p.m. Each of the panelists will take 10 minutes to discuss...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 29, 2008; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Traffic Advisories for DC

Federal agencies have a couple of traffic advisories for you. President Bush is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union speech tonight at about 9 o'clock, but the U.S. Capitol police will close off streets around the Capitol at 7:30 p.m. You'll find a full list of the streets involved at this Capitol police Web page. The National Park Service announced that on Wednesday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., it will close the inbound (or eastbound) ramp that leads from Memorial Bridge to the Kennedy Center and Rock Creek Parkway. This is for tree pruning, unrelated to the longterm project on the parkway. Detour: Go to 23rd Street southbound, turn right at Independence Avenue and to then head north toward the Kennedy Center and Rock Creek Parkway....

By Robert Thomson  |  January 28, 2008; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Plan B for Rail Transit?

In rebuffing the plan to build a Metrorail line through Tysons Corner and on to Dulles Airport, the Federal Transit Administration said it doubted whether the Washington airports authority could manage the project. Let's take that concern as valid for a moment. If the airports authority, which is managing the multi-billion dollar expansion of Dulles Airport, can't manage construction of a Metrorail line, who could? How about Metro? No. After Metro built out the five rail lines as planned, it got out of the rail construction business. It no longer has a department that could immediately turn its attention to the task of building a new rail line across the District or the suburbs. It certainly seemed like a logical decision last year. Metro was out to cut personnel costs before proposing a fare increase. Virginia was committed to building the only Metrorail extension for the foreseeable future. Why keep...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 28, 2008; 8:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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