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Get There: March 16, 2008 - March 22, 2008

Peeps Take the Metro to the New Ballpark

Those wacky Metro employees. They released a video on You Tube that follows three peeps as they try to make their way to the new Nationals Park. It's not great cinematography, but you will likely find yourself chuckling throughout -- if only because it's so bad, it's good. The Reliable Source spoke to WMATA public relations director Lisa Farbstein about the story behind the video yesterday (second item). Check out the video below and let us know your thoughts on "Peeps in the Park."...

By Amy L. Kovac  |  March 21, 2008; 9:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
Categories:  Metro  
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VDOT Commissioner Faults Ice Storm Response

David Ekern, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation, summed up the department's response to the Feb. 12 ice storm this way: "When you look at the critical 45 minutes, we got overwhelmed." He was talking about the time between 3 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. when the Springfield Interchange's roadways and bridges began to freeze -- and so did VDOT. -- The road treatment equipment wasn't where it needed to be when weather conditions began to deteriorate rapidly. -- VDOT's Traffic Management Center in Northern Virginia failed to activate the message boards to warn drivers that the interchange had become impassable. -- The 511 phone information system was not engaged. VDOT's Web site was not used to alert people who had not yet left home or work. -- The Traffic Management Center did not contact the emergency operations center in Richmond or other regional traffic management centers to coordinate public...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 20, 2008; 2:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Congestion  
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VDOT Releases Report on Ice Storm Response

These are some of the findings from the Virginia Department of Transportation review released this afternoon regarding its inadequate response to the ice storm that choked the Springfield Interchange for more than seven hours on the afternoon and evening of Feb. 12. I'll follow up on this with you later this afternoon. Forecast Off The Transportation Emergency Operations Center in Richmond (TEOC) and the NOVA district maintenance management and staff had several sources of weather data available prior to and during the event. The main source of forecast data was the National Weather Service (NWS). VDOT also has a contract with a private meteorological company to give more discrete weather forecasts than those provided by the NWS. This service did not forecast the ice storm for the Northern Virginia region. Lack of Road Data Supplemental data on pavement temperatures were available from Vaisala Corporation, a private service employed by VDOT...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 20, 2008; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion  
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Traffic, Transit Advisories

Couple of advisories today for drivers and transit users. March Madness and Metro The NCAA games at Verizon Center are scheduled to start at 12:20 p.m. and will continue well into tonight. (Here's a link to Verizon Center's directions page.) The center sits atop Gallery Place Station, which is a junction of three Metro lines, the Red, Green and Yellow. For the games that end in the off-peak afternoon and night time hours, Metro will put on extra trains to help with the crowds. And for the late game, Metro will stay open till 1 a.m. Gallery Place has three entrances, but if you're traveling on the Red Line, it's just a couple of blocks west to Metro Center Station on G Street NW and a couple of blocks east to Judiciary Square Station on F Street NW. Road Work in Tysons A left turn lane on Route 7 East...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 20, 2008; 5:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Delays in Downtown DC

The District Department of Transportation has issued a traffic alert for the afternoon and evening: "Mobile protests that began early this morning are expected to last into and beyond the evening rush hour. Large and small groups of demonstrators are continuing to intermittently block intersections along K Street between 13th and 17 th Streets, NW. "Delays and detours are expected. Motorists are advised to avoid the area." The protests against the Iraq war are described in a story on our Web site....

By Robert Thomson  |  March 19, 2008; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Triple Trouble For DC Traffic?

Let's see how big this city really is: Three events are scheduled for Saturday, March 29, and they all contain the word "National." While they're still a week and a half away, you'll probably see why there's some value in beginning to plan. A traffic magnet in bloom. (Thomson) Here are the elements of the Traffic Trifecta. The National Marathon and Half Marathon. The starting time is 7 a.m. and the finish time is 1:30 p.m. Last year, many people enjoyed having this run in the nation's capital, but it left thousands trapped in traffic. It takes place on a Saturday, which is not a light day for local travel, and it crosses through six of the city's eight wards in two big loops. The course begins and ends at RFK Stadium. Look for signs marking the race route. That's where you'll experience temporary street closures that not only will...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 19, 2008; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Congestion  
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Metro Open Late for NCAA Thursday

Metrorail is going to stay open till 1 o'clock Friday morning to accommodate the Verizon Center crowds attending the Thursday night NCAA basketball games at Verizon Center. The normal closing time on weeknights is midnight. Also, there will be extra train after the first, third and fourth games on Thursday and both games on Saturday to help with crowds on the Red, Green and Yellow lines. Verizon Center sits on top of Gallery Place Station, where those three lines intersect. There are four games on Thursday, starting at 12:20 p.m. So Metro is suggesting that commuters who work around Gallery place avoid the worst crowding by using the station entrances at 9th and G streets NW or 7th and H streets NW. Or, go over to Judiciary Square Station at 5th and F streets NW. When you're using Metro to attend any big event, it's best to buy a round...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 18, 2008; 2:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Metro  
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Metro to Cut Back Weekend Maintenance

Metro plans to curtail its repair and testing projects for the next four weekends, giving riders a reprieve from recent service delays that have lasted up to 30 minutes. In a press release on its website, Metro announced suspension of track work on March 22 to 23, March 29 to 30, April 5 to 6 and April 12 to 13. The break in track work will coincide with the Cherry Blossom Festival, opening weekend of the Washington Nationals, the National Marathon and other mainstays of Washington's busy tourist season....

By Liz Heron  |  March 18, 2008; 1:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  
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MD Senate Passes Camera Bill

The bill to allow local governments throughout Maryland to use speed cameras passed the state Senate today by a vote of 26 to 21. The measure, which also allows the state to set up the cameras in road work zones, must also pass the House of Delegates. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) backs the proposal. In the Senate, it's SB 269; and in the House, it's HB 364. Senators amended their bill twice. One amendment reduced the proposed fines from $75 to $40, which matches the amount of the fine in the Montgomery County pilot program, which began last May. The other amendment exempts volunteer rescue workers who are acting in the line of duty when they pass through a camera zone. The House also amended its bill to set the fine at $40....

By Robert Thomson  |  March 18, 2008; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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How Do You Want to Pay?

Two stories in today's Post focused on the future of our transportation system. The U.S. Department of Transportation has encouraged some efforts to take the system private -- or at least push it in that direction. Lyndsey Layton and Spencer S. Hsu explored the federal effort to encourage states and private companies to let the market dictate which segments of the transportation network will be improved. Eric M. Weiss describes several scenarios that are part of a regional review of road tolling options. These ideas and more are contained in the report to Congress by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission, which proposed a new way of looking at our needs in the 21st century. There are two main theories behind the tolling concept: In one scenario, market forces, rather than government, dictate where roads will be built or improved. Private companies will build or manage roads --...

By Robert Thomson  |  March 17, 2008; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Hybrids Stay in HOV Lanes

The Virginia Department of Transportation reminds us this morning that the law allowing hybrids to travel in the carpool lanes has been extended for one year until July 2009. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) signed House Bill 1014 last week. The exemption had been scheduled to expire on July 1, but as in past years, the Virginia General Assembly voted for a one-year extension. (There's no such program in Maryland.) Letting hybrids with solo drivers into the carpool lanes may have been a good idea back in the days when hybrids were new and the government sought to encourage ownership of fuel-efficient vehicles. Today, it's just an entitlement that allows people to drive by themselves in lanes built for carpoolers. Hybrids that don't meet the HOV lane rules for occupancy can be used in the lanes on I-95/395 and I-66, but the rules are significantly different on those two highways....

By Robert Thomson  |  March 17, 2008; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Traffic Alert For RC Parkway

It's back. I'm not talking about spring. It's time for a new lane closure on the Rock Creek Parkway. The National Park Service today will close the right southbound lane at all hours for about three weeks. This is between P Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue, the work zone that became infamous with commuters last year. Three travel lanes will remain open, the park service says. The P Street ramps will remain open, the park service says. The Federal Highway Administration, which is doing the year long parkway repair project in conjunction with the park service, has a Web page that describes the work....

By Robert Thomson  |  March 17, 2008; 5:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction  
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