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Get There: September 28, 2008 - October 4, 2008

Union Station Centennial

Washington's cathedral of transportation is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend. It's also the 20th anniversary of its rebirth after years of neglect. Visit the open house events at Union Station from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Historic locomotives, private rail cars and current Amtrak equipment will be on display. You can also see memorabilia exhibits and participate in drawings for free Amtrak trips....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 3, 2008; 3:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Events  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Metro Previews Weekends The transit authority has put out its first schedule for an entire month's worth of weekend track work, so riders have more time to anticipate the delays. Metro had been posting the weekend work plan on the Thursday before it begins, so this new system is a bit of a breakthrough, though riders would prefer to do away with weekend track work altogether. 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 lines. (It's Yellow that's missing.) The delays resulting from track-sharing around the work zones will be 15 to 20 minutes. Army 10-Miler But there will be no track work on Sunday morning to impede those running in or just watching the annual Army 10-Miler race in Arlington and the District. Metrorail will...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 3, 2008; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Sunday Traffic Alert: Army 10-Miler

Here's some advice for getting to, or getting around, the annual race scheduled for Sunday morning. Take the train. Metrorail is adding service, and Arlington County is closing some roads because of the Army 10-Miler. The rail system will open an hour early, at 6 a.m. And there will be extra service on the Blue Line, the one that race participants and spectators will be most likely to use. Meanwhile, Metrobuses that normally use the Pentagon Transit Center will be relocated temporarily on Sunday morning to Pentagon City until Arlington County reopens the roadways it will close for the race. Metro figures that bus service at the Pentagon Transit Center should return to normal by about 2 p.m. Sunday, but note that the Pentagon Metrorail station will be open throughout the race to accommodate spectators and participants. The race is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and end at 11...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 2, 2008; 7:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories , Events , Metro  
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Metrorail Quiz: Where Art Thou?

Dozens of sculptures, murals, friezes and other displays grace the city's Metrorail system. This December, the agency's Art in Transit program will select a new installation -- on the theme 'pulse' -- for Farragut North. During the sometimes mind-numbing commute through the system, do you ever pause to take in the art offerings? Try our quiz, which challenges readers to match images of art with the stations at which they appear, to see just how well you've been paying attention....

By Mike McPhate  |  October 2, 2008; 12:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro  
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Traffic Alert: Connecticut Avenue Reopens

Update, 4:25 p.m.: Police activity has concluded around the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue and all the lanes have been reopened. Original Post: This from the District Department of Transportation at 3:15 p.m.: Police activity has closed Connecticut Avenue between 36th Street NW and Chevy Chase Parkway. Traffic is being diverted around the area. The delays are expected to continue into the afternoon rush hour, and motorists are advised to plan an alternate route if possible. Check our traffic page for alerts and camera views....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 1, 2008; 3:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Driving  
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Service Boost on Some Fairfax Buses

The Fairfax Connector, crippled by a strike in the south part of the county, has come up with enough drivers to allow increased service on 11 routes today. Fairfax County says normal weekday service is in effect on these southern routes: 101, 109, 151, 152, 161, 162, 171, 310, 321, 322 and 401. There still is no service on these routes: 231, 232, 301, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 331, 332, 380 and VRE EZ-Bus North and South. Service on routes in the northern part of the county has not been affected by the strike that began on Sept. 15. Here's a link to the county Web site page that shows the routes for all the connector buses, but note that the page's schedule for southern routes was not adjusted to take the strike into account. The list you see in this entry is the most current information on which...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 1, 2008; 9:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , transit  
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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...

By Robert Thomson  |  September 30, 2008; 8:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Driving  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , Safety , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro , Weekend Work  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Metro , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Commuting , transit  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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