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 west."
Today, the crews are working behind existing walls so there are no lane closures. On Thursday, the drilling equipment will be removed, so two lanes will be closed from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. If it rains -- and rain is in the forecast -- this work will be delayed. Friday, there will be no lanes closed, Salmon said. But on Monday, the highway shoulder will be closed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
George Washington Parkway
The lane closures that will be part of the two and a half year Humpback Bridge reconstruction are starting: The left lane on both sides of the parkway will be closed from 7 p.m.t o 5:30 a.m. tonight and Thursday night. (This is just north of the 14th Street Bridge.) Concrete barriers will be set up. The work also includes closing and removing the left-turn, northbound access lane into Columbia Island Marina the pedestrian crosswalk in the same area of the parkway.
Otherwise, you'll see tree and brush removal along the parkway shoulders in the bridge area from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today through Friday.
Next week: The left lane will be closed in both directions from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday while crews remove the median and guardrail.
The one big screwup we heard about when the Metro fare increases kicked in was the overcharging of bus passengers using SmarTrip cards to transfer. The problem was a fare box programming error that has since been corrected. About 23,000 riders should have gotten a discounted or free transfer.
Metro wants to make up to passengers by offering free rides to SmarTrip users this Sunday and part of Monday. So if you ride the buses on Sunday or on Monday until noon, don't tap your SmarTrip card on the fare box. Just show it to the driver, and you can board for free. The make-good will cost Metro about $30,000.
"Considering the complexity of implementing a fare increase, this has been a minor glitch," Metro GM John B. Catoe Jr. said in a statement. "Overall, it's been a smooth implementation."
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