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Get There: July 20, 2008 - July 26, 2008

The Weekend and Beyond

Some tips on weekend travel and upcoming traffic and transit issues: Rail Delays Metrorail's weekend work schedule will cause delays of at least 20 minutes on the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines during Saturday and Sunday. The full details are here on Metro's Web site. Event Detour Saturday evening's Crystal City Twilighter 5K race through through Crystal City and the Pentagon South Parking lot will cause some Metrobus detours from 6 to 10 p.m. The routes affected are 7A, 7F, 9A, 10A, 16B, 16J, 23A, 25A. Wilson Bridge Project Watch for temporary lane closures on Route 1 between Fort Hunt Road and Franklin Street in Alexandria on Saturday from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Franklin Street at Route 1 will also be closed. In addition, from mid-afternoon to 9 p.m., the ramp from the Beltway's inner loop to northbound Route 1 will be closed. Full details are here on the...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 25, 2008; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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New Approach on Metro Track Work

Metro managers are hoping to better organize track work, so they can limit the delays that frustrate riders traveling at off-peak times and on weekends. It's a promising approach, as the transit authority is planning many years of major rehabilitation work on all the lines. Weekend work shut a track at Mount Vernon Square. (Thomson) But Metro board members, listening to a staff presentation of the plan today, were rightly cautious about fully committing to it until they get more details about the impact on travel. The problem: The transit authority now presides over 60 rehabilitation contracts, all in the $5 to $15 million range. All the jobs compete for a narrow window of work time at various points along the lines. They can't get all their work done while the rail system is closed. The delays caused by single-tracking around work zones drive riders nuts. The proposed fix: Metro...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2008; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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New Speed-Control Plan for Va. Beltway

Capital Beltway drivers are going to see a new type of speed limit sign between Springfield and the Wilson Bridge starting next week. Signs will post variable limit. (Thomson) The operations center for the bridge and interchange reconstruction project will be able to vary the speed limit depending on traffic conditions. To Washington drivers -- not the most patient people -- the concept behind the Variable Speed Limit system may seem illogical: "We want you to slow down so you can move faster," says John Undeland, spokesman for the bridge project. He demonstrates with rice and a funnel. When he dumps the rice into the funnel, the spout clogs and only a few grains emerge. When he pours more slowly, the rice flows smoothly through the funnel. Since human beings don't behave themselves like grains of rice, this new system is going to take some education and practice -- and...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2008; 8:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Driving  
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Green Line Delays for Morning Commute

Metrorail is reporting Green Line delays in both directions due to smoke reported outside of the West Hyattsville station. Trains between Fort Totten and Prince George's Plaza are sharing the same track. To read more Metro alerts, visit their Web Site....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 24, 2008; 7:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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NY Avenue Repairs Beginning

Workers are scheduled to start permanent repairs after this morning's rush hour to the slope along New York Avenue NE that collapsed in May. They will take about three weeks to build a new retaining wall about 15 feet away from the curb lane by the Amtak property between Fairview Street and the 9th Street Bridge. That lane along this major commuter route will be closed during the project to protect the workers. A temporary fix has been in place since the slope failed in May, but the new retaining wall must be built to stabilize the slope, the District Department of Transportation says....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2008; 6:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Construction  
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MARC Moving to Fix Problems

Paul J. Wiedefeld, head of the Maryland Transit Administration, today outlined steps being taken to improve the MARC trains' performance. It's been a difficult summer for the Maryland commuter railroad, despite increasing ridership. You deserve better, he said. "For the past six weeks, on-time performance for MARC train service has fallen far below what customers expect or deserve," Wiedefeld said in a statement. "Although some service disruptions are unavoidable, there were instances where we could have taken actions to reduce the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you and your family, friends and colleagues experienced." He said he has directed MARC managers to review each recent problem with CSX and Amtark, owners of the three lines, and reduce the chances that the problems will recur. For Penn Line riders, he said: MARC is talking daily with Amtrak to address delays and improve the reliability of the electric locomotives. The overhaul of...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 23, 2008; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  transit  
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D.C. Transportation Director to Metro

Metro announced today that Emeka C. Moneme, the District's transportation director, will leave that post in Mayor Adrian Fenty's cabinet to return to the transit authority as chief administrative officer. As head of the District Department of Transportation, Moneme has overseen traffic and transit projects, including the shutdown and rehabilitation of the Douglass Bridge, the traffic and transit plan for the new Nationals Park, development of the pedestrian safety master plan and the proposed Anacostia streetcar line. He also serves as a District representative on Metro's board of directors, a post he'll be leaving to join Metro's management. [Post reporters David Nakamura and Lena Sun have more about this on D.C. Wire, the city staff's blog.] Moneme was Metro's chief of staff to the general manager from 2006 to 2007. That was while Dan Tangherlini was serving as interim general manager, after the resignation of Richard White. When Fenty recruited...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 23, 2008; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Red Line Rail Repair Eases Delays

3:19 p.m. Update: Metro says that the cracked rail has been repaired and service restored on the Red Line tracks near Takoma Station. The transit authority said it found the cracked rail after the morning rush. Track repairs slowed midday travel on the Red Line. Riders were advised to expect delays of up to 20 minutes. Trains shared a single track between the Fort Totten and Silver Spring. Every other train on the Glenmont-bound side terminated at Brookland and headed back toward Shady Grove. Metro does this to keep up service on the most crowded part of the line. This has been a difficult week for rail riders. Check Lena Sun's story in today's Post for a review of the problems on Metrorail, VRE and MARC. And see my previous posting about Metro's communications issues....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 23, 2008; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro  
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Rooftop Groundbreaking for HOT Lanes

"We have done it," Virginia Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer said this morning, just before the ceremonial groundbreaking for the HOT lanes project along the Capital Beltway. He was referring to the successful development of a construction program, but quickly pointed out that there's an enormous amount of construction and disruption ahead over the next five years. Homer and other public and private leaders of the HOT (high occupancy or toll) lanes project were standing under a tent on the roof of a Tysons Corner Center garage, just after this morning's line of storms rolled through. The Capital Beltway, where the heavy lifting gets underway starting tonight, was just below to the east. Homer said the project would not have gotten this far without the leadership of U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, who is an advocate for such public-private partnerships and for the variable tolling system that the HOT...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 22, 2008; 1:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Events , Transportation Politics  
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Mixed Results on Metro Communication

Metro, which has been working on improving its communications with riders, showed last night it still has a way to go. Power problems plagued the Orange Line during the afternoon rush on Monday. Metro's eAlert, an e-mail notification to subscribers, said: "Disruption at Dunn Loring-Merrifield. (Due to a power outage, all of the station's escalators and elevators are out of service. Shuttle bus service has been established between Dunn Loring and Vienna. The station remains open.)" That was mostly true, except for the part about the shuttle bus service. Many aspects of Metro's action plan for the afternoon were fully described in an advisory from the transit authority's public information office. Metro posted that notice on its home page and sent it to media outlets across the region to be broadcast or posted online. But riders would not have known about them from the eAlerts or from announcements made in...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 22, 2008; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Metro  
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VRE Train Have Been Restored

VRE trains have been restored and should be departing shortly, but delays continue. The CSX system was down this morning until 7:50 a.m. when train 332 departed Broad Run on the Manassas Line. Trains are still running an hour and a half late, according to WTOP reports, but Metro will honor VRE tickets. For more information, you can view the VRE alerts here....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 22, 2008; 7:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Action This Week on HOT Lanes

Overnight drivers on the western side of the Capital Beltway in Virginia will encounter the HOT lanes construction project starting this week. In the first phase, workers will build four new lanes on the outer sides of the Beltway. Later, the inner four lanes (two on each loop) will be converted into HOT (high occupancy or toll) lanes. They should be ready in 2013. But for starters, here's what to expect in construction this week: Tuesday and Wednesday: Southbound at I-66, two right lanes closed. First lane at 9:30 p.m., second lane at midnight. Lanes reopen by 5 am Wednesday. Thursday and Friday: Southbound at I-66, the left lane will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday and Friday: The left exit ramp from I-66 East to the southbound Beltway south will be closed on Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. and on Friday from 11 p.m....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 22, 2008; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction  
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Orange Line Delays in Virginia

Another difficult afternoon commute on the Orange Line: Metro says delays caused by a power problem in Virginia will persist through the evening. At 7:55 p.m., the Orange Line platforms were almost empty, but there still were good sized crowds on Orange Line trains heading toward Vienna. This was partly the result of a signal problem that slowed travel on all the lines. I was on one train that left Vienna at 6:22 p.m. and got to McPherson Square at 7:38 p.m. (Getting to and through the Rosslyn tunnel was just ghastly. After that, service was normal.) The rest describes the situation as of 4:42 p.m.: Vienna-bound Orange Line trains will operate 12 minutes apart between West Falls Church and Vienna, Metro says. Every other train will terminate at West Falls Church. Passengers going to Dunn Loring or Vienna will need to get off at West Falls Church and wait...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 21, 2008; 4:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Metro  
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New Rules on Metro Farecard Trades

Commuters today saw signs in many stations announcing Metro's new rules for trading in Farecards. The rules are designed to combat the fraud sceme uncovered last week. Anybody having trouble with the new system? Several blog readers were asking whether they could still put the value of their paper Metrocheks onto their SmarTrip cards at Metro's vending machines. Yes, any value card can be added to a SmarTrip card. The problem some will encounter is that they can no longer trade in an old paper card with a value of more than $7 for a new paper card. Some stations have signs on every vending machine stating the new policy. But at Farragut North this morning I didn't see any signs posted at the L Street plaza. See Lena Sun's story in The Post, which explains the Farecard fraud and the reasons for changing the trade-in policy. [Join me at...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 21, 2008; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro  
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