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Get There: October 19, 2008 - October 25, 2008

The Weekend and Beyond

Some tips and suggestions for your upcoming travels: Click on race map for larger image. Marine Corps Marathon See all the details about Metro service changes and traffic disruptions in this blog entry. The race begins at 8 a.m. Sunday. Metrorail Delays Track maintenance on the Blue and Green lines will slow your travels from Friday night into Sunday, as trains to take turns sharing a track around the work zones. (That Blue Line work will be done at 3 a.m. Sunday, so it won't interfere with transit to and from the marathon.) See the full details at this page on Metro's Web site. Parkway Bridge Reopening The ramp from westbound Clara Barton Parkway to the Capital Beltway's outer loop reopened Friday afternoon. The ramp closed in late summer for a $2 million bridge rehabilitation project that included a new concrete bridge deck, cleaning and painting the steel bridge beams,...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 24, 2008; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Weekend Work  
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Walking Map of Silver Spring

Esther Bowring, spokeswoman for Montgomery County, pointed out to me that the county has a useful map on its Web site that shows travelers how far they must walk to reach various points, paced off from the entrance to the Silver Spring Metro station. Click on the map for a larger image. The station is being rebuilt as a transit center, a two year project. I've been writing about some of the difficulties that travelers now face as they funnel into and out of the station entrance, connecting with the relocated bus stops or with parking garages. Commuters seem to be getting used to the new setup. During recent morning and afternoon rush hours, I saw less confusion on the streets than I did the first few days in late September after the bus bays were shut down. Crossing guards and police are still working hard to protect pedestrians --...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 24, 2008; 8:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Commuting , transit  
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Legislators Push Purple Line

Porcari and regional leaders rally support for transit project. (Thomson) Seems like there's no point in the history of a transit project that can't be described as pivotal or crucial or crisis. This is such a [fill in the blank] time for Maryland's Purple Line transitway. Civic and political leaders, led by state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari, met at the Langley Park Crossroads at noon today to rally support for the line and announce formation of a state legislative caucus to advance the cause. Despite opposition centered in communities that would be most affected by the footprint of the light rail track or busway, the Purple Line does have an impressive array of local backers from one end of its route to the other. It will need them. It's been just days since the project issued its draft environmental impact statement (see Post story) and next month, there...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 23, 2008; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Commuter Page: Minding Your Metro Manners

On Sunday's Commuter page (page C2 of The Post's Metro section) we ran a feature about transit etiquette. You can see it here. It contains a lot of those things we talk about here, like keeping your music to yourself, keeping germs to yourself, and so on. Lena H. Sun, our transit reporter, asked that people send their etiquette questions -- or horror stories -- to her, at sunl@washpost.com, but I got a response, too, and thought I'd share it with you. Dear Dr. Gridlock: I hope that this will be a recurring feature because there is one major issue that was not on your list: Performing personal hygiene on the Metro. Please add "Do not clip your fingernails while riding Metro." to your next list. I cannot tell you how many times in the past year, I have seen someone take out a pair of clippers and start clipping....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 23, 2008; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Bike Light Giveaway

Now that we're deeply into fall and the mornings and afternoons are darker, bicyclists can take advantage of a program that is giving away bike lights in the District and Alexandria. The "Got Lights?" giveaway starts today, and will continue next Tuesday and Thursday. The program, supported by the District Department of Transportation, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and the City of Alexandria, among others, will give out 600 free front and rear bike light sets. Their goals are to make the recipients safer and to raise awareness of the need to be seen when cycling. Over half of all cyclists killed are hit while riding at night without lights, WABA says, even though only 3 percent of bike riding is done at night. The sponsors of the giveaway also will be handing out WABA's Safe Bicycling in the Washington Area guide and reminding people that D.C. and Virginia laws...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 23, 2008; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Biking , Events  
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Traffic Alert: Obama Rally in Leesburg

Watch for afternoon traffic congestion around Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Senate candidate Mark R. Warner are scheduled to be there for a rally starting at 5:30 p.m. The park is near Routes 7 and 15, two big commuter routes in Northern Virginia. The gates are open for the event at 3 p.m. and officials are anticipating a crowd of 10,000 people. Here's a link to our Traffic page, where you can find updates on road conditions and traffic camera views....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 22, 2008; 2:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Marine Corps Marathon Is Sunday

Take Metrorail on Sunday to avoid congestion, whether you're going to the event or just trying to get around it. Here's a map of the course. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. and end late Sunday afternoon. The transit authority just announced its plans for the day: Metrorail will open at 5 a.m., two hours earlier than usual. Metrobuses that normally use the Pentagon Transit Center on Sunday will be relocated to the Pentagon City Metrorail station between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. So if you normally go to Pentagon Metrorail station and transfer to a Metrobus, you'll need to ride to the Pentagon City Metrorail station on the Blue and Yellow lines to catch your bus. While I recommend Metrorail anytime there's a major weekend event, you should know that the transit authority expects that more than 30,000 runners, volunteers, and spectators will use the trains....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 22, 2008; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving , Events , transit  
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Metro Warns About End of Paper Transfers

The transit authority has launched a campaign to remind riders that it plans to eliminate the paper transfers used by many bus passengers. Once the paper transfers disappear in January, the only way to get the free bus-to-bus transfer or the rail-to-bus discount is to use a SmarTrip electronic fare card. What bothers me about this isn't so much the $5 cost of getting the card in the first place, or even the limited number of outlets that sell the things. It's the difficulties bus riders face in adding value to the cards. That will change. Metro plans to add several hundred more outlets where people can pump up the value of their SmarTrip cards, but now and for the next few months, the options still will be limited. Riders can always add value as their standing by the bus's fare box. But to do so, they've got to feed...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 21, 2008; 2:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro  
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Maryland Shuts Frederick County Bridge

Maryland's State Highway Administration has closed the Point of Rocks Road Bridge over Catoctin Creek in southwestern Frederick County for repairs. SHA expects it will stay shut for up to four weeks. The bridge is scheduled to be replaced in 2010, but SHA said a recent assessment showed it needs to repaired sooner than that. The safest and quickest way is to accomplish that is to close the road, according to the highway administration. But about 4,000 vehicles a day use this section of road. Detours: -- Westbound traffic will make a right onto Horine Road, a left onto westbound Route 180, a left onto Olive School Road and then back to Point of Rocks Road (Route 464). -- Eastbound traffic will make a left onto Olive School Road, a right onto Route 180 and a right onto Horine Road, then head back onto Route 464....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 21, 2008; 2:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Driving  
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Hearings Set on Fairfax Bus Fares

Fairfax County plans to hold two hearings to get public comment on the proposed increase in the Fairfax Connector fares. If the increase is approved by the county's Board of Supervisors, the base fare would rise from $1 to $1.35 for those paying cash, but would go up by a quarter for those using SmarTrip electronic fare cards. See other proposed changes here. The county, like Metrobus, also plans to eliminate paper transfers. The changes would take effect on Jan. 4. Beyond that, the county's Department of Transportation is asking the county board to adopt a new policy that generally links future fare increases on the Connector to Metro's fare changes. (At the moment, Metro doesn't have a fare increase proposal on the table, but the transit authority board has been talking about creating a predictable schedule for such increases.) You see examples of two trends in the Fairfax proposals....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 21, 2008; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Transportation Politics , transit  
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Motorcyclist Asks About Drivers

This letter writer, a motorcyclist, asks the eternal question about drivers, to which the eternal answer is, "You guys are just as bad." But give him a chance to make his point. Dear Dr. Gridlock: "I would like to know why drivers do the things they do. "Maybe it would make me more tolerant and thus less stressed with my time on the road. Let me begin by saying I am a motorcyclist and have taken various safety courses so that when it comes down to a standoff with a car, I am going to back off, as will any trained motorcyclist. But why do cars break into a group of motorcyclists in which it should be obvious are trying to keep together? "I don't even understand it when they are in the left lane and want to exit on the right. Didn't they know this before they tried to...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 21, 2008; 7:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Driving , Safety  
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Wilson Bridge Gets National Award

I remember when I thought the thing would never get built because it of the inability of Maryland, Virginia and the federal government to agree on the financing. Now, the two new spans of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge are done, and a national transportation group has just given the project its Grand Prize. The bridge was one of 10 in the running for the top award, presented to Maryland, Virginia and the District at the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials annual meeting. The $2.47 billion project, not only the biggest in our region but also one of the biggest in the nation, is still on time andon budget. And it looks pretty good, too. While Beltway commuters who pass through the remaining construction zone at Telegraph Road may want to spit out the candles on this cake, I think the bridge and interchange construction -- and the...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 20, 2008; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Construction , Wilson Bridge  
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Lower Gas Prices Affecting Travels?

AAA's weekly survey of fuel prices reports that the price of gas nationwide took one of the biggest drops ever in the past two weeks. The price fell more than 50 cents a gallon. In the past month, AAA said, it has dropped more than 75 cents. Last week, about 20 states fell below the average of $3 a gallon. Demand for gas remains down, but will it stay that way? In today's Post, a story by Steven Mufson looks at what may become of the movement for more efficient autos. Dropping gas prices could depress desire for fuel economy while the troubled credit market cuts off money to finance auto design changes. Look at the oil and gas price charts on our Metro page, and you'll see what those national and world trends have meant around here. "AAA expects gas prices will continue to decline this month, which is...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 20, 2008; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Commuting , Driving  
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