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Get There: September 14, 2008 - September 20, 2008

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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Advisories  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction , Driving  
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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...

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

By Robert Thomson  |  September 18, 2008; 6:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Driving  
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'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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Biking , Commuting , Driving , Metro , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction , Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Construction , Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Transportation Politics , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Construction , Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories  
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