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Archive: September 2008

D.C. License Laws Change Today

Some changes start today at the District's Department of Motor Vehicles as its new fiscal year begins. As of Wednesday, D.C. driver's licenses and identification cards will be valid for up to eight years, rather than five. More time between renewal visits to the DMV. But some fees will increase: The vehicle inspection fee will rise from $25 to $35; the non-commercial driver's license fee will go from $39 to $44. The inspection sticker for new vehicles will be valid for four years, rather than two. DMV Director Lucinda Babers said in a statement that "there has not been a fee increase for vehicle inspections since 2001 and the driver's license fee increased from $10 to $39 in 2003 to deter against identity theft and fraud by increasing security features." She said "customers are receiving a cost benefit for the extended eight-year license period." It amounts to $5.50 per year...

Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes

By Robert Thomson | September 30, 2008; 8:39 AM ET | Comments (20)

An Appeal to Pedestrians

Pedestrians, cars and buses attempt to share the same space during afternoon rush at Silver Spring Station. (Thomson) Downtown Silver Spring was transformed on Monday in ways that several years of commercial construction had not accomplished. And it's worrisome: The closing of the old bus and taxi hub has pushed pedestrians onto the most heavily used commuter streets during rush hours. The crossing guards and Montgomery County police tried bravely on Monday to protect pedestrians from their own suicidal behavior, but it was like herding cats. The pedestrians funneling up Wayne Avenue while talking on cell phones or plugged into iPods just hate to break their momentum, even for the few seconds it would take to get a green light or a wave forward from one of the police officers or guards. Pedestrians, save yourselves. Life is worth living. The stock market will come back. Let the crossing guards...

By Robert Thomson | September 30, 2008; 7:35 AM ET | Comments (19)

Metro Announces Oct. Weekend Schedule

For the first time, the transit authority has put out a schedule for an entire month's worth of weekend track work, so riders can anticipate delays. That's a bit of a breakthrough, though commenters on my online discussion today clearly would prefer to do away with weekend track work altogether. The monthly notice replaces a system in which the transit authority would put out announcements on Thursday about track work and delays for the following weekend. "We want our rail riders to use this schedule as a tool so they can plan their weekends and see where our maintenance crews will be in the rail system," Dave Kubicek, the assistant general manager for Metrorail, said in a statement. So what's up in October? The transit authority will be installing new rails, upgrading sections of track, replacing floating slabs and conducting switch replacement work on the Red, Orange, Blue and Green...

By Robert Thomson | September 29, 2008; 3:07 PM ET | Comments (2)

Silver Spring Station This Morning

Buses, police, crossing guards and drivers must all adjust to new traffic patterns near Silver Spring Metro station. (Thomson) Silver Spring's old hub for buses and taxis was deserted this morning, surrounded by chain link fence. But the nearby streets were bustling as never before with buses and pedestrians -- and some impatient drivers trying to get around them. The zone was flooded with police, crossing guards and guides pointing out the new bus stops to confused commuters. One Metro supervisor compared the operation to the opening of Nationals Park, only there, some streets could be closed off for safety. At Silver Spring, there are more bus to bus transfers than bus to rail transfers. There were limits to how far apart the new bus stops could be spread after the station area was shut on Sunday to make way for construction of the new transit center. So this...

By Robert Thomson | September 29, 2008; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (6)

Bus Changes Affect Commuters Today

Buses at Silver Spring Station must clear the way for two years of transit center construction. Click on photo for map of the new layout. (Thomson) Commuters across the region are encountering some changes in bus routes and schedules this morning. At Silver Spring Station, the Metrobuses and the Montgomery County Ride Ons that had been loading and unloading near the station entrance have moved out onto the surrounding streets. Across the region, some Metrobus routes are starting new weekday schedules. Caution at Silver Spring This will be a confusing day for most people who use the station or just past by in their cars. Most everything but the tracks and platforms are in a different place. All the buses are using new stops on the streets around the station, the Metro Kiss & Ride is inside a parking garage, the taxi stand moved a bit and there's a...

By Robert Thomson | September 29, 2008; 5:48 AM ET | Comments (1)

Bridge Opening for 'Amistad'

The schooner Amistad, which has spent the weekend at the Gangplank Marina on the Southwest Washington waterfront, is scheduled to pass through the Wilson Bridge very early on Monday. The bridge will open at 4:45 a.m. Monday. The timings are always subject to change. Here's a link to the page on the Wilson Bridge Web site that displays the bridge opening scheduled. The schooner is a recreation of La Amistad, which became a central part of the first human rights case in U.S. courts argued on behalf of enslaved Africans. The ship's visit to National Harbor and Washington this month commemorated the 1808 signing of the U.S. law abolishing the African slave trade....

By Robert Thomson | September 28, 2008; 6:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Weekend and Beyond

Some advisories and suggestions about your upcoming travels. Metrorail Delays The transit authority is doing track maintenance on the Red, Blue, Orange and Green lines this weekend, which means delays of 15 to 20 minutes for riders because trains on all those lines will be sharing tracks to get around the work zones. See full details on Metro's Web site. Events and Metrobus Detours Saturday and Sunday events in Washington and Arlington are likely to cause some traffic delays and will require some Metrobus detours. The events include Bike DC and Clarendon Day on Saturday, and Fiesta DC and the Chinese Cultural Festival on Sunday. See details about time and place, and the Metrobus detours here. Bus Route Changes Metro is making some significant changes to service on routes in the District, Maryland and Virginia, effective on Sunday. See full details here, but these are some of them. Route 5A:...

By Robert Thomson | September 27, 2008; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (1)

Metro Working to Fix More Routes

While we've focused on the transit authority's study to improve service on the 16th Street bus line, Metro also is asking for riders' help to fix eight other Metrobus routes. A set of public meetings starts tonight, but you can also comment by phone or online. These are the routes under review: -- Washington Boulevard Line (2A, 2B, 2C, 2G) -- Sibley Hospital and Stadium Armory Line (D1, D3, D6) -- Glover Park and Dupont Circle Line (D2) -- Ivy City and Union Station Line (D4) -- MacArthur Blvd and Georgetown Line (D5) -- Hospital Center Line (D8) -- Prince George's and Langley Park Line (F8) -- Eastover and Addison Road Line (P12) Here's the list of public meetings, all of which begin at 6 p.m.: Tonight: The P12 line will be discussed at the Suitland Community Center, 5600 Regency Lane, Forestville. Thursday: The D1, D3, D6 line will be...

By Robert Thomson | September 24, 2008; 5:58 AM ET | Comments (1)

Outer Loop Lanes Reopen After Truck Fire

The scene near the Persimmon Tree Road bridge today. (Lewis R. Gollub for The Washington Post) UPDATE, 1:35 p.m.: All lanes are now open. Traffic remains backed up in both directions. UPDATE, 1:10 p.m.: Just one left lane of the Outer Loop is now blocked. Traffic remains slow before Connecticut Avenue and the length of the southbound 270 Spur. Inner Loop traffic is slow after Rte. 7. UPDATE, 1 p.m.: Two lanes of the Outer Loop are getting by to the right. All Inner Loop lanes are open. ORIGINAL POST: An accident involving a truck this morning in Montgomery County has blocked all lanes on the Outer Loop of the Beltway at River Road. Two right lanes are getting by on the Inner Loop and traffic slows starting at the George Washington Parkway. NBC4 reports that a welders truck overturned and caught fire at about 11 a.m. near the...

By Mike McPhate | September 23, 2008; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (4)

More Paths Coming at Wilson Bridge

Although the second span of the Wilson Bridge opened to vehicle traffic in May, project managers say much work remains before the pedestrian/bike path across the span opens next spring. It should be spectacular when it's done. The 12-foot wide path alongside the Capital Beltway's inner loop will have great views of the river, Washington, Alexandria and Prince George's County. The pathway will connect the Washington Street in Virginia deck to National Harbor on the Maryland side. But that's not the only pedestrian-biker route still to come as part of the project: -- A trail from Route 1 south of the Capital Beltway to the Washington Street deck is scheduled to open this fall. -- A trail starting on the east side of Telegraph Road at Huntington Avenue and passing over the Beltway to connect with Eisenhower Avenue near Hoffman Center is scheduled to open in late 2009. ....

By Robert Thomson | September 23, 2008; 6:36 AM ET | Comments (3)

Accident on Southbound I-395 Cleared

UPDATE: The accident that closed three lanes on Southbound I-395 has been cleared, according to the District's Department of Transportation, and all lanes are now open. Drivers were counseled to expect further delays, however. ORIGINAL POST: Drivers should expect major rush hour delays after three southbound lanes of I-395 at South Capitol Street exit were closed because of a vehicular accident, the District Department of Transportation said. Only the left lane remains open. Several rescue vehicles are currently on the scene....

By Mike McPhate | September 22, 2008; 4:13 PM ET | Comments (1)

New Session on 16th Street Buses

Metro and the District Department of Transportation are hosting their second public meeting Tuesday to get riders' help in improving bus service along 16th Street in Northwest Washington. Click for larger map. (Metro) The first session this summer produced many good ideas for fixing problems with crowding, bus bunching and erratic schedules -- things that commonly occur on busy lines that pass through congested areas, both characteristics of the 16th Street Line. The S1, S2 and S4 routes, which average 16,000 passengers on a weekday, have the third highest ridership of any line in the Metrobus system as they travel between Silver Spring Station and downtown Washington. On this project, Metro if following a similar pattern to the one used to upgrade service this year on the 30s Line, an even busier route across Washington. The 16th Street study involves these public meetings, a rider survey, a staff review of...

By Robert Thomson | September 22, 2008; 6:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Weekend and Beyond

Some suggestions on local travel and transportation issues for this weekend and the rest of the month. Metrorail Delays Track maintenance on the Red, Orange and Green lines will start tonight and continue through Sunday. Riders should 15 to 20 minutes to their normal travel times on those lines, because trains heading inbound and outbound will be sharing a track to get around the work zones. See full details here on Metro's Web site. Metrobus Detours Events in Washington and Virginia on Saturday and Sunday will require some Metrobuses to detour around the activities. So you see a list of the events and the affected bus lines on this page at Metro's Web site. Bay Bridge The eastbound span of the Bay Bridge will be closed for maintenance during overnight hours through the weekend, the Maryland Transportation Authority says. These are the closing hours: -- 11 p.m. Friday to 7...

By Robert Thomson | September 19, 2008; 12:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

I-395 Work in District Tonight

The District Department of Transportation plans to install a new overhead sign on Interstate 395 at the 14th Street Bridge tonight from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. The northbound lanes will be closed during the work, and there may be some lane closings on the southbound side as well. The detours: -- Northbound traffic will take be diverted onto 14th Street and then to Independence Avenue, make a right turn and then another right onto 9th Street to reach the 9th Street Tunnel and then get back on the Interstate. -- Southbound drivers will take Exit 4 to Maine Avenue, make a right turn and follow the signs for southbound I-395. This is part of an 18-month project to improve signs on I-395. It's scheduled to be completed over the next four weeks, DDOT says....

By Robert Thomson | September 19, 2008; 6:12 AM ET | Comments (5)

Traffic Alert: Bay Bridge Overnight

The eastbound span of the Bay Bridge will be closed for maintenance during overnight hours through the weekend, the Maryland Transportation Authority says. These are the closing hours: -- 10 p.m. tonight to 5 a.m. Friday. -- 11 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday. -- 10 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday. -- 10 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. Two-way traffic will operate on what is normally the westbound span during the closures. Watch your speed. Two-way traffic heightens the danger to drivers. Workers are installing rumble strips between the eastbound travel lanes to alert motorists who accidentally cross the double solid lines that separate the lanes. The transportation authority says the closings schedule is designed to accommodate rush hour traffic and also the extra traffic that is likely to be generated by two weekend events on the Eastern Shore: NASCAR races in Dover, Del., and SunFest in Ocean...

By Robert Thomson | September 18, 2008; 2:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Those Platform Direction Arrows

During our online discussion on Monday, a commuter expressed frustration about being too frequently misled by direction arrows at the end-of-a-line Metrorail station. The lit-up arrow is supposed to point to the train departing next, whichever side of the platform it's on. In this case, the next train arrow was on the Red Line platform at Shady Grove. Gaithersburg, Md.: "I wish Metro could at least get the sign right at Shady Grove announcing which side of the platform the next train will leave from. Twice last week and again this morning despite what the sign indicated, the operator announced that the train on the opposite side of the platform will leave first, after many people had already settled in." I responded that I wasn't sure why that happened, but Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel gave me an explanation of how the system works. He said that when a train arrives...

Metro Resources:  Riding the System  |  Trip Planner   |   Map  |  Post Coverage

By Robert Thomson | September 18, 2008; 1:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

DC Will Check Safety Seats

The District is inviting city parents to bring their vehicles in on Saturday for a free inspection to make sure their children's car seats are installed properly. Many safety experts are concerned about the seats. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that nationwide three out of four are improperly installed. The D.C. event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the D.C. Armory, 2400 E. Capitol Street NE. Bring the kids. The technicians need them there to properly inspect the seats. (Some of the technicians will be Spanish speakers.) A limited number of child safety seats will be provided free of charge to needy families while supplies last, says the District Department of Transportation, which is sponsoring the event along with the D.C. police department. Other jurisdictions have their own programs to help. In Fairfax County, for example, residents can make appointments with the...

Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes

By Robert Thomson | September 18, 2008; 6:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

'Car Free Day' on Monday

In the 21st Century, we have a bunch of annual events in which we are urged to take the bold step of getting out of our cars and stepping into the future for one day. Sponsors hope the one day events -- invitations to take transit, carpool, bike or walk -- will be the start of something big. Ride On's Car Free Day ad. (Thomson) This Monday is Car Free Day, one of those annual events. The CommuterPageBlog has collected reports on some of the happenings in our region on the day of this worldwide celebration of non-automotive travels. If you want to figure out how to break the car habit for a day, look here for some suggestions. The only free travel I can find will be on the District's Circulator bus, operating three very useful routes across central Washington. But there are a bunch of events this week,...

By Robert Thomson | September 17, 2008; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (11)

Silver Spring Getting New Bus Stops

Starting Sunday, Sept. 28, all the Ride On and Metro buses that operate out of the Silver Spring Metro station are scheduled to move out into the surrounding streets until construction of the new transit center is done. Penguins orient commuters. (Thomson) Yes, they say, this time, it's for real. Many commuters were expecting this to happen last year, before the project got delayed. They had watched as Wayne and Dixon avenues and Bonifant Street were prepared for the new bus stops, a new traffic signal was installed on Wayne and other pedestrian safety measures were put in place. But then nothing happened for a while. Crosswalk at Wayne and Dixon avenues got an upgrade. (Thomson) This year, the most visible signs of preparation have beent the closing of the MARC train office and the paving of the streets that will handle the new bus stops. Still, just because commuters...

By Robert Thomson | September 17, 2008; 6:57 AM ET | Comments (11)

Watch for Late Traffic at Dupont Circle

One of the outer lanes on the north side of Dupont Circle is scheduled to be closed to traffic tonight and Wednesday night, says the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. Crews will be working on a project to replace aging water mains, the authority says. The scheduled work hours in this zone, between 19th Street and Connecticut Avenue NW, are 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night....

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 3:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

VDOT Fixing Hanna Damage

The Springvale Road bridge over Piney Run in Great Falls is closed for a few weeks while emergency repairs are made to bridge supports, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced today. Here's the VDOT detour, which probably will add about 10 minutes to travel times: Leesburg Pike (Route 7) west, right on Utterback Store Road, right on Georgetown Pike (Route 193) back to Springvale. Do the reverse if driving south from Georgetown Pike to Leesburg Pike. Watch for signs in both directions. VDOT engineers estimate it could take up to four weeks to fix the bridge's support abutments, which were damaged by Tropical Storm Hanna....

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 3:08 PM ET | Comments (1)

Columbia Heights Station Reopened

The Columbia Heights Station reopened at 11:45 a.m., Metro says. It was closed for an hour and 42 minutes while D.C. police investigated a report of a suspicious package outside the station. Green Line trains continued to pass through the station, but didn't stop....

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Columbia Heights Station Temporarily Closed

The Columbia Heights Metro station closed at 10:03 a.m. today while D.C. police check a report of a suspicious package outside the station. Green Line trains were still passing through the station, but they weren't stopping. Metro was setting up a free shuttle bus service between the Georgia Avenue-Petworth and U Street stations. Metro posts updates at the top of its home page. Metro says it affects some bus routes, too, because police have blocked 14th and Irving streets NW. So the H2, H4 and H8 buses eastbound are detouring onto Little Harvard and then onto Columbia Road. Meanwhile, Routes 52 and 54 northbound are detouring onto Girard Street, then to 13th and Monroe and onto 14th....

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (1)

VRE Holding Fare Hearings

Throughout September, VRE will be holding daytime and nighttime hearings on a new round of fare increases. There's a session today from noon to 2 p.m. at the Crystal City Marriott, and you can see the rest of the schedule on this VRE page. VRE is in the same spot as many of the Washington area's transit services: Ridership is surging, and so are expenses. The increase in riders isn't enough to close the gap on costs. Every public transit service operates with a government subsidy, but times are tough and the subsidies are limited to hold down taxes. Riders will make up the difference. (There will be some cost cuts, but significant cost cuts involve service cutbacks, and transit agencies are reluctant to do that with service so popular.) This is VRE's proposed strategy: There would be two fare increases over the next year. The first, in January, would...

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 8:33 AM ET | Comments (0)

Reduced Service on Fairfax Connector

For a second day, the county bus service in southern Fairfax is sharply reduced because of a strike. Here are the basics: -- Hourly service will operate on Routes 101, 151, 152, 171, 310, 321, 322 and 401. -- No service on Routes 161, 162, 231, 232, 301, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 331, 332, 380 and VRE EZ Bus North and South. See Post story by Eric Weiss....

By Robert Thomson | September 16, 2008; 7:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

Roads Closing in Rock Creek Park

Starting on Tuesday, some roads in the park will be closed during the middle of the day for maintenance. There are no closings scheduled during the rush periods. Here are the times and locations. Tuesday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm: Beach Drive (northbound lane) closed between Rock Creek Parkway and Piney Branch Parkway NW; Piney Branch Parkway (eastbound lane) closed between Beach Drive and Arkansas Avenue NW; Klingle Road closed between Porter Street and Beach Drive NW. Wednesday and Thursday, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm: Glover Road closed between Grant Road and Broad Branch Road NW; Ross Drive closed between Glover Road and Joyce Road NW. Tuesday, Sept. 23, and Wednesday, Sept. 24, 9:30 am to 2:30 pm: Ross Drive closed between Glover Road and Joyce Road NW....

By Robert Thomson | September 15, 2008; 1:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fairfax Connector Service Reduced

A strike has sharply reduced bus service on the Fairfax Connector in the southern part of Fairfax County. The connector is operating on a limited Sunday schedule in the south county, meaning buses run hourly. But service in the northern part of the county (Routes 402-980, and all RIBS) is not affected. This is the schedule in the southern county: -- Limited service on Routes 101, 151, 152, 171, 310, 321, 322 and 401. -- No service on Routes 161, 162, 231, 232, 301, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 331, 332, 380 and on VRE EzBus North and South. More details on the Fairfax County transportation page....

By Robert Thomson | September 15, 2008; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Better Commute for Marylanders Today

Commuters along Annapolis Road (Route 450) near the Peace Cross in Blandensburg should be finding their drives a bit smoother this morning thanks to the opening of the new overpass. No more waiting for freight trains on the CSX tracks. "One of the greatest benefits, in addition to reducing rail-related traffic congestion, will be the improved response time for area emergency personnel to reach people in need," Neil J. Pedersen, the Maryland state highway administrator, said in a statement. More than 40,000 vehicles travel along Annapolis Road Bladensburg each day, the highway administration said. But the rate is likely to exceed 63,000 vehicles by 2030. In the past, many drivers had to stop for the more than 25 trains crossing their path. The trains would halt traffic for an average of 15 minutes each. Traffic backups extended up to a mile in each direction during peak travel times, the highway...

By Robert Thomson | September 15, 2008; 6:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

Triathlon Closing Some Roads Sunday

The National Park Service and the District will be closing off some streets in Washington and Montgomery County on Sunday morning and early afternoon for the biking and running parts of The Nation's Triathlon. Click on the image to see the route map. Here's the schedule: -- 5 am - 1 pm: Rock Creek Parkway at Virginia Ave to Ohio Drive -- 6 am - noon: Rock Creek Parkway from Connecticut Avenue/Calvert Street to Virginia Ave -- 5 am - 1 pm: Independence Ave from 23rd to 14th streets -- 5 am - 1 pm Ohio Drive to West Potomac Park -- 5 am - 1 pm: Ohio Drive to East Potomac Park (Haines Point) -- 6 am - 1 pm: East Basin Drive -- 6 am - 1 pm: Maine Ave from I-395 ramp to Independence Ave split -- 5 am - 1 pm: Constitution Ave from 17th to...

By Robert Thomson | September 14, 2008; 5:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

The Weekend and Beyond

Here's some advice in planning your travels for this weekend and the rest of the month. Nation's Triathlon on Sunday The National Park Service and the District will be closing off some streets in Washington and Montgomery County on Sunday morning and early afternoon for the biking and running parts of The Nation's Triathlon. Use this link to see a list of the closures and the times. On this page, you'll find The Post's map and description of the course. Metrorail Track Work This is the weekend for the annual inspection and maintenance project on the bridge that takes the Yellow Line across the Potomac. (One of the best views in the Metrorail system.) Best bet is to use the Blue Line instead. More details are available here on Metro's Web site. That's the only maintenance project this weekend that will disrupt your train travels. Metrobus Detours Use this link...

By Robert Thomson | September 13, 2008; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

Yellow Line Bridge Closing For Weekend

Metro is going to shut down the Yellow Line Bridge over the Potomac for inspection and routine maintenance. People who want to be among the first to visit the newly opened Pentagon Memorial should be among those taking note of this. You'll want to be on the Blue Line to reach Pentagon Station. Passengers traveling south of Pentagon Station on the Yellow Line should add 20 minutes to the normal time for their trips -- or take the Blue Line. The Yellow Line will operate only between Huntington and Arlington Cemetery starting at 10 p.m. Friday through the end of service at midnight Sunday. When a Yellow Line train arrives at Arlington Cemetery, passengers must transfer to a Blue Line train, since the Yellow Line will not operate between the Pentagon and Fort Totten. Yellow Line passengers south of the Pentagon, and who need to get to the Green Line...

By Robert Thomson | September 12, 2008; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Roads, Transit Center Reopened

All the roads that had been closed for this morning's ceremony at the Pentagon have reopened, the Virginia Department of Transportation reports. Also back in business is the Pentagon Transit Center. The Metrobuses that had been detoured to Pentagon City Station are back on their regular routes....

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 1:28 PM ET | Comments (12)

Arlington Streets Reopening

Arlington police report they have reopened South Eads and South Fern Streets, which were among the roadways closed this morning during the dedication ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial. Route 1 and Glebe Road also have reopened. All the Metrobuses diverted during the morning closing of the Pentagon Transit Center are back on their regular routes now. Police have said they will reopen the roadways as soon as safety allows following the ceremony....

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

I-395 Southbound Lanes Reopen

Arlington police report that the main lanes of I-395 southbound have reopened to traffic. They were closed temporarily during President Bush's visit to the Pentagon Memorial dedication ceremony....

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Reopening of 395 Lanes Delayed Slightly

Arlington police report that the reopening of the I-395 lanes has been delayed till about 11:15 a.m. because of the ceremony dedicating the Pentagon Memorial. The HOV lanes are open southbound now. The regular lanes on 395 will reopen after President Bush leaves the dedication....

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Update From Pentagon City Station

Post staff writer Mark Berman reports that the late rush hour is still going pretty smoothly at Pentagon City Station despite the detour of so many buses from the Pentagon Transit Center, which is closed this morning because of the memorial ceremony. Metro employees on the scene attribute that to the savvy of Pentagon commuters and the fact that traffic and transit alerts have been going out for days. Berman said at 8:40 a.m. that bus and rail operations remain very active but orderly. There seems to be some thining out in the number of people waiting to ask questions of the Metro employees near the bus stops on Hayes Street. There was a steady stream of people getting off the diverted buses and heading into the Metrorail station for the trip to Pentagon Station, which has remained open for rail service. But it wasn't overly crowded on the street...

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 8:33 AM ET | Comments (1)

Smooth Operations at Pentagon City Station

Post reporter Mark Berman is at Pentagon City Station, where the buses detoured from the closed Pentagon Transit Center are stopping this morning. Many people have changed their commuting pattern for the day in response to the warnings about the road closings, detours and traffic congestion. Metro employees are on Hayes Street giving advice to lines of commuters who need information about the schedules, routes and stops, Berman said at 8 a.m. Buses are lining the east side of Hayes street from 12th to 15th streets, but the operations are orderly, he said. One commuter from Alexandria who works in the Navy Annex and normally takes Metro to Pentagon City and then a shuttle to the annex told Berman that she was amazed the commute so far was no worse than usual. She had expected gridlock. Another commuter, Gordon Rogers, 58, of Arlington, said "The Metro part of this seems...

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 7:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Metrorail Operating Normal Schedule

The schedule change for transit today had to do with Metrobuses, not Metrorail. So far this morning, there are no significant delays on the trains. Metrorail is operating on its normal peak period schedule. (Check here for Metro's service advisories.) Why no more trains or extra cars, given that we're all advising commuters to take transit rather than drive through the Pentagon area congestion this morning? Metro can't add any capacity to the six-car trains it already operates during peak service on the Blue and Yellow lines, says transit authority spokesman Steven Taubenkibel. Extra cars and trains draw more juice from the third rail. As Metro adds to its 830-car fleet, it is working on upgrading the power system along the lines so they can handle the added draw of additional cars. The big change today was the switch of all Metrobuses that normally use the Pentagon Transit Center over...

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 7:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Many Bus Routes Shifted

Metrobus, which has switched stops from the Pentagon Transit Center to Pentagon City Metro station this morning, isn't the only agency making detours because of the Sept. 11 memorial dedication ceremony. DASH Buses AT3, AT4: Riders who usually use the Pentagon Transit Center will be redirected to the Braddock Road Metro station. Normal service will resume at the Pentagon Transit Center in the afternoon. Buses heading toward Braddock Road Station will stop at designated stops on the opposite side of the street from buses that normally operate to the Pentagon. OmniRide: All morning buses will operate service only to Metro stations. On the eastern side of Prince William County, service will operate to the Franconia-Springfield Station. From the Manassas area, service will operate to West Falls Church Station. Riders will pay the Metro Direct fare of $2.50 cash or $2.10 with a SmarTrip card. Mid-day buses will depart from the...

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 6:17 AM ET | Comments (0)

Traffic Update: HOV Lanes Reverse Early Today

To ease traffic congestion in the area around the Pentagon Memorial dedication today, the Virginia Department of Transportation says it will reverse the I-95/395 HOV lanes from northbound to southbound earlier than usual. The I-95/395 HOV lanes will close to northbound traffic between 9:30 and 10 a.m. The lanes will re-open to southbound traffic by 11 a.m. The HOV lanes typically close to northbound traffic on weekdays at 11 a.m., and re-open to southbound traffic at 1 p.m. VDOT suggests that drivers use alternative routes such as Route 301 or Route 17 to avoid congestion, and of course, take Metrorail....

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 5:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

So Far, So Good Along I-395

At 5:30 a.m., traffic is light along the I-395 corridor near the Pentagon, where the dedication of the Sept. 11 memorial is scheduled to take place this morning. But with so many roads closed off, that's likely to change. Click for larger map. (Arlington Police) Police and traffic managers are advising commuters to avoid driving through the area and to take transit or telecommute instead. The Pentagon Transit Center is closed this morning. The Metrobuses that normally stop there are going instead to the Pentagon City Metro station. There's no parking at the Pentagon South Parking Lot. The North Parking Lot is open. Drivers in Northern Virginia and Maryland, pay attention to the electronic message boards. State officials say they plan to use them to advise on traffic conditions around the Pentagon. Metrorail is operating on a normal schedule this morning. (The transit authority says it isn't able to add...

By Robert Thomson | September 11, 2008; 5:26 AM ET | Comments (0)

Commuter Graphic: Get a Grip!

This week's Commuter Graphic looks at the overhead handles that Metro is testing to help riders keep their balance. The agency has been operating eight cars with handles made of nylon or vinyl for several weeks. The straps are black, yellow or gray. The black straps are made of nylon mesh; the others, in yellow and two shades of gray, are vinyl. The agency expects to have its newest rail cars outfitted with the stainless steel handles by December. Pick your favorite design below. POLL...

By Mike McPhate | September 10, 2008; 3:12 PM ET | Comments (7)

Reminder on Thursday Traffic

If you work in the Pentagon-Crystal City area, Thursday would be a grand day to telecommute. The road closings from 3 a.m. to about 1 p.m. around the Pentagon Memorial dedication are likely to jam up commuter traffic. Here's a summary of what you will face. Click for larger map. (Arlington Police) Widespread Impact: The road closings for the dedication of the Pentagon Memorial tomorrow are likely to result in heavy congestion across a wide area. Many access points along crowded Interstate 395 are involved. Virginia commuters use these routes to reach the Pentagon, Crystal City and Washington. Maryland commuters flow in from New York Avenue and I-295 to reach the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and the 14th Street Bridge. Take Transit: But Metrorail will operate on its usual schedule. Metro cannot add any rush-period service. Parking at the stations is likely to be very tight. Metrobus: There may be some disruption...

By Robert Thomson | September 10, 2008; 1:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Judiciary Square Station Reopened

The transit authority says the Red Line's Judiciary Square Station has reopened after a half-hour shutdown that started at 11:30 a.m. Metro Transit Police were investigating a suspicious item at the kiosk near the F Street entrance, which turned out to contain nothing harmful. During the shutdown, trains passed through the station without stopping. Meanwhile, transit police and other law enforcement agencies have stepped up security around and in the system this week, as we approach the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks....

By Robert Thomson | September 10, 2008; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Montgomery Unveils 'Road Diet'

Montgomery County wrapped up a week of pedestrian safety events on Tuesday when it formally unveiled the redesign of Arcola Avenue, a neighborhood street that also has served as a speedy shortcut for commuters passing through Wheaton. County Executive Isiah Leggett explains new safety features. (Thomson) While the redesign is too new to evaluate, county officials say they are encouraged to see drivers slowing down and pedestrians getting a break. But they will continue to monitor the results and could tweak the system. Some neighborhood residents, for example, are asking for more help in making left turns along the avenue. The engineering features, collectively refered to as a "road diet," are innovative but not experimental. It wasn't a case of, "Let's pour some concrete here and see if that helps." New design eases pedestrian crossing by narrowing walk distance. (Thomson) The county narrowed this portion of the avenue from four...

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By Robert Thomson | September 10, 2008; 8:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

Plans Still Evolving for Thursday Closures

The road closings around the Pentagon on Thursday are now scheduled to begin at 3 a.m. They will be lifted at 1 p.m. if conditions permit, Arlington police say. Drivers today should be seeing alerts about Thursday's commute on the variable message signs along I-95/395 and the Capital Beltway, among other places. Click to see latest map. (Arlington Police Department) The street closures, which will be done to provide security and access for the the invitation-only dedication of the Pentagon Memorial on Thursday morning, are quite extensive and will occur in a sector of I-395 that is congested even under normlal circumstances during rush periods. Police and Virginia traffic managers are advising commuters to avoid the area, especially between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Metrorail is a better option than driving through the zone. All stations will be open. The trains will be running on their regular schedule Thursday morning. Buses...

By Robert Thomson | September 9, 2008; 8:42 AM ET | Comments (11)

Afternoon Alerts for Commuters

From Metro: Metrorail riders who usually enter the McPherson Square Station were delayed briefly this afternoon following a telephone threat to the station at 3:50 p.m., the transit authority says. Transit Police responded and were not able to identify any danger to riders. An unattended package was discovered inside the station, but it contained nothing harmful. Trains continued to stop in the station to let passengers off the trains, but no riders were allowed to enter the station until the package was deemed safe at 4:27 p.m., Metro says. From VRE: In a 5:29 p.m. update, VRE says the disabled freight train causing the congestion is now on the move. VRE does not expect any further delays this evening. A CSX train had become disabled between L'Enfant and Crystal City, creating a one track railroad. MARC's New Schedule: Don't miss your advernoon train. Here's a link to the full list...

By Robert Thomson | September 8, 2008; 3:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Traffic Alert for Thursday

The national event of the week will also be our traffic event of the week: Thursday morning's dedication for the Pentagon Memorial is likely to disrupt travel over a wide area. Click for larger map of road closures. (Arlington Police Department) Arlington police will block many major roads near the Pentagon during the morning and early afternoon. See a map here. The schedule calls for these points to be closed from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Washington Boulevard eastbound at Interstate 395 and Columbia Pike and westbound at Memorial Bridge, I-395 and Hayes Street; southbound I-395 to the Pentagon south parking lot; and Columbia Pike from Joyce Street to the Pentagon south parking. I-395 northbound HOV will have no access to Washington Boulevard. Police say these roads will be closed at 3 a.m. and reopened when conditions permit: South Fern Street from Army Navy Drive to the Pentagon; South Eads...

By Robert Thomson | September 8, 2008; 8:23 AM ET | Comments (10)

Getting Around in the Storm

Bay Bridge Wind restrictions are in effect this afternoon. House trailers, empty box trailers and other vehicles subject to strong winds are prohibited from crossing. Call 877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) for bridge traffic conditions, or call up baybridge.com and see the traffic camera views. DC Towing From the District Department of Transportation: Vehicles that impede city crews from removing downed trees or debris that block streets will be moved. Their owners will not be fined, but parking regulations will be enforced for illegally parked vehicles. Drivers who think their vehicle has been towed or to confirm the location of a vehicle, should call 311 or go to www.dpw.dc.gov, click on "Parking Enforcement Services" then "Towing and Impoundment" to use DPW's online Towed Vehicle Locator. They also can contact the District's Towing Control Dispatch Center at 202-576-6071. On the Roads See our traffic page for incident reports and camera views across the Washington...

By Robert Thomson | September 6, 2008; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Weekend and Beyond

Tropical Storm The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning for Saturday, saying we should expect gusty winds as well as heavy rain and flooding. The region's highway and transit departments have been making preparations to keep the roads and rails operating. If any of the weekend events I've listed below are cancelled, I'll post that here. Track the storm with our Capital Weather Gang reports. Metrorail Weekend Delays Track maintenance on the Red, Blue and Orange lines this weekend will cause delays while trains share single tracks to get around the work zones. When traveling on the Red Line between Friendship Heights and Medical Center, add 20 minutes to your schedule for the track maintenance, which scheduled to start at 10 p.m. Friday and continue until midnight Sunday. Every other Red Line train in the direction of Shady Grove will terminate at Friendship Heights and return to...

By Robert Thomson | September 5, 2008; 1:51 PM ET | Comments (0)

Metro Prepares for Saturday Storm

The transit authority, like many of our other transportation systems, is announcing preparations for dealing with Tropical Storm Hannah when it reaches the Washington area on Saturday. Flooding is the issue for public transit as well as for the highway departments. The third rail can't supply power to the trains if water reaches the rail's level. And of course, Metrobuses and MetroAccess vehicles depend on passable streets. Metro workers have placed more than 2,500 sand bags at stations with a history of flooding: Cleveland Park, King Street, Southern Avenue, Navy Yard, Federal Triangle, Stadium-Armory, Foggy Bottom-GWU and Largo. The transit authority says Smithsonian also has sometimes had water run off from the National Mall into the station through vent shafts. Crews also are checking the drains in the stations and the yards. Metrobus street supervisors will be watching for drainage problems so they can alert the operations center. The buses...

By Robert Thomson | September 5, 2008; 11:43 AM ET | Comments (1)

Metro GM Doing Online Chat Today

John B. Catoe Jr., Metro's general manager, is scheduled to do an online discussion today at noon on Metro's Web site. Here's a link to his discussion page, where you can post a question or comment in advance....

By Robert Thomson | September 5, 2008; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Traffic Alert: Avoid 14th Street Downtown

A hotel fire closed a key intersection in downtown Washington this morning. The fire shut 14th Street NW at the Pennsylvania Avenue intersection. The District Department of Transportation advised drivers to avoid 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 15th streets NW. And watch for delays on both 14th Street and the 14th Street Bridge. At 9 a.m., the DDOT traffic camera at 14th Street and Maine Avenue shows very heavy traffic heading northbound off the 14th Street Bridge. (See our Traffic Page for map and camera views.)...

By Robert Thomson | September 5, 2008; 8:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

Maryland's Bus Managers in DC Today

Maryland commuters can talk with MTA bus managers and staff this afternoon at six bus stops in Washington. Here's where you'll see them: -- 7th Street (southbound) and Maryland Avenue SW. -- Maryland Avenue (eastbound) and 7th Street SW. -- The Library of Congress, at Independence Avenue (eastbound) and 1st Street SE. -- The State Department, at C Street (eastbound) and 21st Street NW. -- North Capitol Street (southbound) and H Street. -- H Street (eastbound) and North Capitol Street....

By Robert Thomson | September 4, 2008; 6:04 AM ET | Comments (1)

Morning Delays on MARC

Tracks for MARC's Camden and Brunswick lines have reopened. This morning's disruptions on the two lines stemmed from a police investigation near Union Station after a body was discovered on the tracks. With investigators were on the scene, MARC trains had to be backed into the stations at Silver Spring and Greenbelt to allow passengers to board Metrorail. Post reporter Debbi Wilgoren wrote this story about the incident....

By Robert Thomson | September 3, 2008; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bay Bridge Update

Testing of the parapet on the left side of the eastbound span is done. The inspectors found some corrosion of reinforcing steel bolts in the concrete barrier and repairs are underway, says the Maryland Transportation Authority. The left lane on the eastbound span remains closed. This is the schedule for two-way traffic on what is normally the westbound span: -- Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. -- Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- As needed, Monday through Saturday, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., during full closures of the eastbound span. The idea is to give commuters three westbound lanes during the morning rush and accommodate people returning from the Eastern Shore on the weekend while round-the-clock repairs continue on the eastbound span. But this situation is far from ideal. Many of the accidents on...

By Robert Thomson | September 3, 2008; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (1)

VDOT Working on Beltway Ramp

To ease congestion, the Virginia Department of Transportation is adding another lane to the ramp from Route 7 in Falls Church onto the inner loop of the Capital Beltway. This involves reconfiguring the westbound lanes of Route 7 at the intersection with Magarity Road in Falls Church. The work is scheduled to be done on Nov. 20. In the meantime, watch for occasional lane closings through the area during off-peak hours.The $429,992 project also involves construction of a sidewalk, curb, gutter and pedestrian fence for safety. The Metrobus stop for routes 28A, B and T at the intersection is temporarily unavailable. The nearest stop is to the east, across from Marshall High School....

By Robert Thomson | September 3, 2008; 9:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

Montgomery Planning Pedestrian Improvements

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced this morning that intensive efforts will begin this fall to improve safety at one of the county's most dangerous stretches of road. County Executive Leggett announces safety program. (Thomson) This was the first of what will become an string of announcements over the next eight days about Montgomery's efforts to improve pedestrian safety. Leggett made this first announcement at a parking lot in Silver Spring that's alongside the first target for attention: the section of Piney Branch Road between Flower avenue and the Montgomery/Prince George's line. With 22 pedestrian collisions from 2005 through 2007, this area had the highest concentration of pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County. A long way to cross University Boulevard at Piney Branch. (Thomson) It includes the intersection of University Boulevard and Piney Branch, two wide commuter routes with plenty of driveways, businesses, apartment buildings, bus stops -- many of the...

By Robert Thomson | September 2, 2008; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (6)

Waiting for 'September Shock'

For many commuters, the move from summer to fall isn't as swift or surprising as it used to be. School starts, which were a big factor in traffic and transit congestion, come more gradually than they used to for the Washington region. Northern Virginia schools are starting up this week, but many students in Maryland and the District have been back at their desks since late August. Meanwhile, Capitol Hill remains quiet. We're still in road construction season. Since few people have the luxury of taking summer-long vacations, the current set of road projects isn't a surprise to commuters who drive. In transit, Metrorail continued to set ridership records through the summer. I see nothing much has changed on MARC: Train 506 was delayed because of problems problems, and there's a slowdown on the Brunswick Line this week, because CSX is working on the tracks. Train 894 left Frederick 40...

By Robert Thomson | September 2, 2008; 7:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

 

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