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The Weekend and Beyond

Metrorail Delays
Many riders will encounter slow going this holiday weekend because of single-tracking around the repair work underway at Metro Center. Passengers, especially those bound for events at Verizon Center, should build in at least a half an hour extra travel time from 10 o'clock tonight through Monday night. The second half of the project, which will fix the bridge that takes the Red Line tracks over the Blue and Orange Line tracks, is scheduled for President's Day weekend. (Here's a link to Lena H. Sun's story about the project.)

Work Zone - Gerald Martineau (2).jpg Work area on Blue/Orange platform. (Gerald Martineau)

Metro Center Station will remain open. The Shady Grove side of the Red Line platform will be closed. Trains will use the other track. Blue and Orange Line riders will find their platform open. They will see the areas above both tracks where the Metro crews are replacing sections of hard rubber called bearing pads to better support the Red Line track and platform above.

Up on the Red Line, passengers can see -- if they look real closely -- a section of platform that dips slightly. If you're not looking for it, you could walk over it without noticing, and you can certainly ride over it without noticing. Metro says the station is safe, but it needs to do this work to keep it that way.

Red Line - Gerald Martineau (2).jpg

Red Line sag. (Martineau)

Tip for Red Line riders: If you're leaving Verizon Center after one of the games this three-day weekend, walk over to Judiciary Square Station rather than using Gallery Place, even though that's closest. If you're heading back in the Glenmont direction, you'll be beyond the single-tracking zone. If you're heading toward Shady Grove, you'll still have to pass through the single-tracking area, but at least you'll avoid some of the platform crowding at Gallery Place.

Georgia Avenue Shift
Watch for traffic shifts scheduled to start Tuesday jan. 22 on the busy commuter route just north of Norbeck Road in Montgomery County. This is part of the intercounty connector construction. The northbound lanes will be shifted into the newly widened median starting at Thistlebridge Drive, then move back into the old track about a quarter of a mile beyond that, just south of Bachelors Forrest Road.

The traffic shift, which will be in effect about two years, will allow for construction of a Georgia Avenue bridge over the connector.

Bus Tokens
Everybody can buy them again. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. has reversed a decision that ended token sales for all but students and paratransit riders.

Metro would love to move riders away from tokens and cash and toward the use of the electronic SmarTrip cards. Toward that end, the transit authority handed over 50,000 free SmarTrip cards to social service agencies. "However, we have since heard from many charitable organizations and social service agencies, which distribute tokens to the needy, that eliminating them is too burdensome," Catoe said in a statement.

Tysons Work Underway
While it's still unclear whether the U.S. Department of Transportation will sign off on a $900 million federal contribution to the Dulles rail project, utility work connected to the Tysons Corner portion of the project is underway. Washington Gas crews are working in the service road south of Route 7 east of Gosnell Road in front of Business Bank. As they progress, they will move east toward Route 123.

Short sections of one lane of the Route 7 service road will be closed for the work. Traffic will be eastbound only in the section where the crews are working. The closed lane will reopen after construction is completed. Meanwhile, access to all businesses will be maintained.

Eventually, the service roads will be eliminated and Route 7 will be widened to four lanes in each direction. The new Metrorail line, if it wins the federal financing, will run Route 123 and then swing into the middle of Route 7, where a median will be created for the elevated rails.

DASH Route Changes
Alexandria's buses are changing some schedules as of Sunday.

The AT2 route will be split into two separate routes, with the AT2 route operating on the current alignment between Braddock Road Metrorail Station and Lincolnia Road. The new AT1 route will operate on the current AT2 alignment between Seminary Plaza and Eisenhower Avenue Metrorail Station.

Weekday midday AT7 service between King and Royal Streets and the Lee Center will be eliminated. The midday AT4 route will be extended from City Hall to the Lee Center. Saturday AT4 service between the King Street Metro Station and the Lee Center will be eliminated, but the Saturday AT4 route will be extended from City Hall to the Lee Center.

P Street Repairs
The District plans to begin roadway and sidewalk repairs on P Street NW between Dupont Circle and Logan Circle on Tuesday. Work hours are 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, but vehicles and pedestrians will have access to the area throughout the repair work, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of March. The roadway will be resufaced in the spring.

Rail Testing
There may be minor delays on various Metrorail lines over the next three weeks as Metro goes through a periodic ultrasound safety check of the rails. If a worn rail is identified for replacement, a Metro crew would first make a temporary fix, and trains would be required to slow down through that area. Then the rail would be replaced overnight, when the system is shut down.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 18, 2008; 5:11 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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Next: Tuesday Traffic Downtown


mr. thomson, are you familiar with DC, do you actually look at what you post. i see with the 'p street progress' update you've posted here, you're simply regurgitating the ddot press release to an extent. p street and 13th street nw never meet. there is a giant circle there (logan circle) where the intersection should be. walk up there and check it out, i'm not lying. ddot should have said the construction is ending at logan circle, and so should you.

Posted by: IMGoph | January 18, 2008 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Capitalization and punctuation is a wonderful thing - try it and see how it works for you.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | January 18, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

A warning to those Shady Grove-bound passengers about walking to Judiciary Square to catch a train: If Metro puts additional trains into service to handle Verizon Center crowds, they'll often run them empty to Gallery Place.

I'm not sure if they'll do the same with the single tracking going on, but it's quite possible that those at Judiciary Square will watch the extra empty train go by while they're waiting 20 minutes for the next regularly scheduled train.

Posted by: nashpaul | January 18, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: IMGoph, you're right. That can't be 13th. I'll fix the P Street reference.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 18, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I understand there will be delays this weekend, including on Monday. Metro's website says they will run normal weekday schedule on MLK Day (i.e. peak fares). How can they charge full fare if they are treating the day as a holiday and performing major repairs causing up to 30 minutes delay? The least they can do is charge off-peak fares since it seems service will be running off-peak.

Posted by: BlueLiner | January 18, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

the morbidly obese are breaking even more of our infrastructure

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

charging full fare for 30 minute delays? you should be happy they don't charge you double!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I've always been amazed at how much you can feel the Red Line platforms at Metro Center vibrate when crowds walk on them. It definitely does not feel reassuring, but I wonder if that's precisely what they're supposed to do, since they rest on rubber pads to prevent concrete-to-concrete friction.

Posted by: Arlington Driver | January 18, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Metro is practically begging for us not to use it this weekend. I wonder what would happen if we all eschewed Metro for just one day this weekend to make the point that there is no elasticity of demand when it comes to thirty minute waits at full fares. It would probably be the first convenient boycott in history.

Posted by: metrosucksual | January 18, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Is that true? Is Metro charging full fare on Monday??

Posted by: Cdell | January 18, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"I've always been amazed at how much you can feel the Red Line platforms at Metro Center vibrate when crowds walk on them. It definitely does not feel reassuring, but I wonder if that's precisely what they're supposed to do..."

It is. And it is not bouncing because of the rubber, it is bouncing because the concrete and steel is able to "flex" a little bit to absorb the loads. If the material wasn't a little flexible and didn't bend (just a tiny bit), it would break in half. Any structure is like that, but I know it can be a bit un-nerving if you are on a really long bridge or at the top of a tall building. The Bay Bridge, because of its long length, bends quite a bit. You can actually feel it moving under you on a windy day. Bridges can also sag due to changes in temperature. The expansion joints are there to prevent the bridge from sagging too much, but nevertheless really long spans sag quite a bit. The Verrazano Bridge up in NYC hangs a foot lower in summertime than in wintertime due to this expansion. And the tops of the two towers are about half an inch farther at the top than at the bottom due to the curvature of the earth (the towers themselves are over a mile apart).

Posted by: Woodley Park | January 18, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Cdell and everyone concerned about Monday rail service, I just checked with Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel. Here's what he said.

On Monday, MLK Day, fares are off-peak and parking is free. Metrorail opens at 5 a.m. and closes at midnight.

The schedule for service on the Red, Blue and Orange Line is as described in Lena Sun's story.(See the link toward the top of the blog posting.) On the Green and Yellow lines, the level of service is comparable to a Saturday.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 18, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

thanks mr. thomson. sorry to go all snarky on you this morning. didn't mean to jump down your throat. as for the arlington person who doesn't like the lack of capitalization in my writing....please send me $5, my shift key is broken. :)

Posted by: IMGoph | January 18, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Woodley Park": Thanks!

Posted by: Arlington Driver | January 18, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

where can you get a shift key fixed for $5?

and how do you type $ without a shift key?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrow's story: "Metro Center Platform Collapses due to construction error." Metro Center will be closed for 6 months as crews rebuild the Red Line platform, which collapsed because of improper shoring of construction equipment. General Manager John Catoe proposes a 20% fare increase to cover costs of repair.

Posted by: Slappy | January 19, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Bad timing to raise the fares, and then a week or so later, introduce 40-minute, 4-stop rides. From personal experience, the 30 minutes added lead time for inbound rides is probably not enough. Crowds were not too bad, though, and outbound rides went at normal pace.

Good tip on walking around the problem, and good thing there are 3 or 4 other stations within walking distance of Metro Center.

I noticed some peak rail fares are now approaching $5.00 each way. Meanwhile taxis have been forced to lower their minimum fares to $3.00. Is it me, or do things seem to be getting a little confused around here?

Posted by: Blue & Orange | January 20, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The Capitals' PA announcer said something during Thursday's game to remind fans of the delays, and he repeated it yesterday. The crowd reacted the same way both times: LOUD booing. Funny stuff.

Posted by: Rich | January 20, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, once they announced the new fare hikes, I used up the rest of my SmarTrip card and sent it back. I'm not riding Metro anymore. If they wanted to show me that they were working on problems by not having escalators down for an entire sports season, or fixing problems as they arose, or running three empty trains while the platforms are crowded (5 working cars on a 6-car train is still better than nothing) was enough.

Posted by: Bye Metro | January 22, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I've had it with Metro. Between yesterday's work downtown that caused us working folk to wait 15+ minutes for a train during rush hour and today's "mechanical difficulties" at Rockville I just have had it. Take your $2.35 minimum fare and get lost WMATA.

Posted by: Rob | January 22, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

While it is an inconvience to have to wait a possible extra 15 minutes more for a train than usual, is that really that big of a deal? Enough to make you stop taking metro? I guess I just think that on any given day, I can be stuck in traffic for an extra 15 minutes (or much more). Oh well, I guess I just think ahead enough to bring a book or a crossword puzzle and take the inconvience with a grain of salt, thinking of it more as an opportunity for a little downtime with a good book rather than my world turning itself upside down.

Posted by: Laura | January 22, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I only took metro between White Flint and Bethesda this weekend (lucked out and didn't have to wait more than 2 minutes for any train), but I didn't notice any delay with the train there.

For those that went into the city, did any of you have any big problems with this? Any exceptionally long waits? Or was it what you expected it would be like with construction work going on this weekend? Just curious.

Posted by: Laura | January 22, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

On Monday I took the Circulator crosstown from 22nd and K to Union Station to avoid the work. I was the only one on the thing after 15th. What an underused bus.

Posted by: Lindemann | January 22, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

If you park in the Metro garages, you are subject to random (sometimes multiple) computer tag checks by Metro Transit police. Patrols have been stepped up. Five, six police cars often parked outside The Former MCI Center. So, this is Polly Hansen's budget bump?

Posted by: Warning | January 23, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Laura, you obviously have your head stuck somewhere stinky. Maybe you're one of those people that whines her way into a seat, but a 15 minute wait during rush hour means that as many as a half-dozen trains should have gone by already, and if they haven't all of those people will be trying to get on the one late one. 15 minutes just grows and grows. Wear a nametag, I will fart on you.

Posted by: Red Line | January 23, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Actually, no I usually stand and don't mind it. Hmm, 6 trains should have passed by in that 15 minutes? So you are one of those that thinks metro should be run by faries and pixie dust with trains running exactly every two minutes. Just not possible.

During rush hour, trains are suppose to run every 3 to 6 minutes. That translates into 3, maybe 4 trains going by in the span of 15 mintues (if you have more than that they start to get backed up and just add more time sitting in tunnels to your trip).

I do agree with you that a 15 minute wait translates into platforms filling up. However, the above post references waiting 15 minutes on a federal holiday. Federal holidays greatly reduce the number of people who usually would be taking metro on an average day in the city. So your argument of waiting causes overcrowding doesn't really hold much water in regards to what I was stating.

And are you 4? Resulting to fart comments...real mature.

Posted by: Laura | January 23, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

what is all this talk of fairies and pixie dust what does any of this have to do with dupont circle?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"While it is an inconvience to have to wait a possible extra 15 minutes more for a train than usual, is that really that big of a deal? Enough to make you stop taking metro?"

Yes, as a matter of fact it is. My old commute with Metro (bus-train-bus) took 80 minutes from bus door to office door (if the bus was on time). My commute by car is 45 minutes. So adding another 15 minutes, just means I can get to work in half the time at a lower cost to me and have the freedom to go out to lunch with my coworkers or get some shopping done seeing as how the busses run every hour. My lunch break is only 45 minutes, hard to work that into Metro's bus schedule.

Now I get to spend 45 more minutes with my family in the morning and 45 more minutes doing things with my family at night. Well worth it to me.

Posted by: Car Commuter | January 24, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Car Commuter,

What you are comparing, an all transit commute that takes 80 minutes and an all car commute that take 45 minutes, is not what I was reffering to. Yes the difference in time between those two commutes is large (35 mintues). If it is also cost effective, then of course I would expect you to drive. And if perhaps before you could deal with the longer commute, but the added 15 mintues (a total of 50 mintues) is your tipping point, then I would agree that is a reasonable reason to drive.

What I am asking is that is 15 mintues that much to make you stop riding metro? If your commute by metro and by car were the same (or nearly the same), would you stop riding metro because of an occasional 15 minutes added to your trip. I just think you can have that occasional 15 minutes added on a pretty usual basis (traffic jams, car accidents, etc.) by commuting by car too. I personally think a lot of people consider sitting in stop and go traffic for an extra 15 minutes acceptable but waiting for a train for 15 minutes to be unacceptable.

And my original post was reffering to a commuter who was complaining about having to wait 15 minutes for a train on a holiday when Metro had already announced there would be delays.

Posted by: Laura | January 24, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Laura needs a real job

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

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