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Get There: October 26, 2008 - November 1, 2008

Expert Calls Metro Bag Search Plan 'Security Theater'

Security specialist Bruce Schneier offered biting criticism of the Metro's new bag searching policy today in a chat with readers. He summed up the terror-fighting strategy as a waste of resources that would likely make residents less safe overall. Here are some highlights: Boston: ... Do people really think this is going to make us safer? Bruce Schneier: Of course it's not going to make anyone safer. This kind of thing is what I call security theater against a movie-plot threat. A movie-plot threat is an overly specific plot or tactic. The problem with defending against them is that it only makes sense if you've guessed the plot correctly. If we spend millions on these random Metro searches and the terrorists go bomb shopping malls, or crowded movie theaters, or restaurants, or churches, or buses, or restaurants, or any of the other zillions of places where people congregate together, then...

By Mike McPhate  |  October 31, 2008; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Saturday Night Metro Metrorail will fall back along with the rest of us for the time change this weekend. You're clock will lose an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday as Daylight Saving Time ends. But you don't have to make any fancy calculations about the Metrorail schedule. The trains will run till 3 a.m. by the clock, as usual. One thing you should do if staying out that late is to make sure you know when the last train leaves the station you plan to use. That can vary somewhat around closing time. The last depature time is posted in each station. It's also listed online on each of the station pages, which you can reach by using this link. Metrorail Delays There's still no reprieve from the weekend delays because of maintenance projects. This weekend, it's track and bridge maintenance on the Blue, Orange and Green lines causing delays...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 31, 2008; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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It's Halloween; Don't Mess Up

Here are some suggestions for tonight. Driving Safety Trick or treaters are small, fast and all too often wear dark clothing. Be extra careful coming in and out of driveways and passing by parked cars. They'll be jaywalking. If you're the neighborhood driver for a bunch of trick or treaters, make them put on their seatbelts and tell them to get out of the car on the curbside. With Halloween falling on a Friday, older celebrators can stay up from dusk till dawn, so drivers, don't let your guard down after the hour when trick or treaters are likely to have returned home. SoberRide Returns The Washington Region Alcohol Program will again be operating its anti-drunk-driving program on Halloween. Since 1993, WRAP has provided people with over 41,010 safe rides home. To receive a ride from 10 o'clock tonight through 6 a.m. Saturday, call 800-200-8294 (TAXI) or #8294 (TAXI) on...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 31, 2008; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Safety  
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Security Specialist to Discuss Metro Searches

Security specialist Bruce Schneier will be online today at noon to answer your questions about the effectiveness of Metro's new policy of randomly searching people's bags before allowing them in a station or on a bus. Here's a link to the discussion page. If you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance, use this link....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 31, 2008; 8:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Weekend Alert: Kenilworth Avenue Traffic

The District plans to redo the surface of Kenilworth Avenue at Burroughs Avenue NE starting at 8 p.m. Friday and finishing by midnight Sunday. Because of the lane closures, it would be best to find another route. The two northbound right-hand lanes will be closed just before the bridge over Burroughs Avenue. Northbound traffic will be shifted into a single lane. Stay left. The exit to Kenilworth Avenue at the Burroughs Avenue/Minnesota Avenue exit will remain open. Two southbound lanes also will remain open. If you're coming south through Maryland or heading north from Virginia, stick with the Capital Beltway rather than using I-295. From the District, your alternatives to the Beltway and beyond are: -- I-395 to Route 50 East (New York Avenue) -- Whitney Young Memorial Bridge to East Capitol Street to Central Avenue -- Sousa Bridge to Pennsylvania Avenue SE...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 30, 2008; 1:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Construction  
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Police Chase Accident Blocks I-395 HOV Ramp From Shirlington

The ramp from Shirlington to the northbound 395 HOV lane is being blocked by police because of a police car chase. For live commuter updates check out the traffic alert page. Virginia Police chased the vehicle along I-395 northbound when it apparently went the wrong way up the ramp at Shirlington, according to a WTOP report....

By Washington Post Editors  |  October 30, 2008; 9:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Metro Riders Urged to Flex Rights

A dozen people handed out flyers to thousands of Metro riders on Wednesday afternoon urging them to defend their rights when transit police ask to search their stuff. When I walked up to Steven Silverman, the 32-year-old leader of Flex Your Rights, he was trying to discuss the new search policy with three transit police officers near the top of the Dupont Circle Station escalators. That looked like it was going to be a short conversation, so I asked Silverman to discuss with me what he and the group were trying to accomplish. Like the rest of us, he learned about the search policy only on Monday, the day the transit authority announced it would begin searching people's property before they could ride trains or buses. As Silverman put it: "They just implemented the policy. They just dropped it." The yellow cards that Silverman and the volunteers were handing out...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 30, 2008; 8:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Metro , Transportation Politics  
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New York Avenue Reopens

The District Department of Transportation says that all lanes have reopened on New York Avenue NE following the water main break that had shut some lanes since Monday. The break occurred between Montana Avenue and Bladensburg Road. But after the initial break was repaired, a second break occurred in another section of the same pipe, DDOT said. Two eastbound lanes were closed so workers could fix the problem....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 29, 2008; 2:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Driving  
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Slippery Rails, Slippery Schedules

It's possible our commuter trains and Metrorail trains may be moving slower during the next couple of weeks as the leaves fall on the tracks and make the rails slippery. It's a fall phenomenon, just like the slow-down orders on hot days are a sign of summer for train riders. A midday train on VRE's Manassas Line has some difficulties on Monday. Today, Metro put out an advisory warning that we've entered the slippery season. The train wheels squish the leaves, and an oily residue decreases the friction between wheel and track. The worst spots, of course, are places where the tracks slope and the areas near above ground platforms. Transit agencies may limit train speeds for safety when they discover this is happening. Besides making you late, the other problem with these slippery conditions is that the train wheels may wear unevenly. That creates flat spots on the wheels...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 29, 2008; 11:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Weather , transit  
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Metro Seeks Volunteer Advisers

Want to tell Metro what to do? Well, you can always write to me, but there are eight seats open on the Metro Riders' Advisory Council, a 21-member volunteer group that advises the transit authority board of directors. Council positions are available for Arlington County, the District and Prince George's County residents. Two at-large seats also are open. The board will fill the slots in December. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. FridayNov. 7. You can fill out an application form on the Metro Web site or pick up an application at Metro sales offices in Metro Center, the Pentagon Transit Center or Metro headquarters, which is at 600 Fifth St. NW. People who qualify for membership: -- Ride Metrobus, Metrorail or MetroAccess. -- Are not employed by WMATA or a WMATA contractor. -- Are not elected officials. -- Live in the Metro service area....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 29, 2008; 7:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Readers Grill Transit Police Chief Over Bag Search Plan

Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn faced some tough questioning today during a chat with readers after the transit system's announcement that it would begin conducting random searches of riders' bags. Commuters have expressed concern and skepticism over the new program intended to help root out possible terrorist attacks. Here are some highlights: Falls Church, Va.: Under what legal authority do Metro Police have in subjecting individuals to random searches? What federal law or state laws authorize these searches? Michael Taborn: Legal authority to inspect packages brought into mass transit systems and other venues has been upheld by the courts in numerous jurisdictions. Metro's inspection program is very similar to the one conducted in the subway system in New York City. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has specifically ruled on the constitutionality of the New York program in MacWade v. Kelly. Washington, D.C.: Will they...

By Mike McPhate  |  October 28, 2008; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  
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Traffic Alert: Delays Continue Along New York Ave.

Two eastbound lanes of New York Avenue remain closed today between Montana Avenue and Bladensburg Road after a water main break yesterday. Officials are offering no estimate for how much longer the repair work will continue. The city suggests the following detours to get around the mess: -- Take Rhode Island Avenue east to southbound South Dakota Avenue to eastbound New York Avenue. -- Take Florida Avenue southeast to Benning Road, and go east to I-295. -- Take Florida Avenue southeast to 14th Street, NE and go south to Maryland Avenue. Make a left on Maryland and then another left on Bladensburg Road. At the intersection of Bladensburg and New York Avenue, make a right turn....

By Mike McPhate  |  October 28, 2008; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Driving  
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Metro Should Bag the Searches

Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn said Monday that Metro police will conduct random inspections inside people's bags. Transit authority's warning to travelers. "If the initiative we are announcing today does nothing more than remind us all that there are people in the world who have vowed to do us harm, and that vigilance is the key to defeating them, then this program will have succeeded," he said in a statement. That big hole in the side of the Pentagon and the sight of thousands of our fellow workers fleeing their offices on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was enough reminder for a lifetime that there are people who want to harm us. Why, suddenly, is it a good idea to assist our memories by peering into our property? About half the letters of complaint I get each week concern Metro. Washingtonians by the scores complain about eating and...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 28, 2008; 6:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , Transportation Politics  
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Traffic Alert: Bad Scene on NY Avenue

The water main break is forcing New York Avenue traffic to detour and there are significant delays this evening. The two eastbound right lanes are closed between Montana Avenue and Bladensburg Road.The District government says it's likely to take until midnight to fix the pipe. These are the city's recommendations for drivers: -- Look for a message board near the 3rd Street Tunnel that directs traffic from New York Avenue eastbound to Rhode Island Avenue. -- A sign along North Capitol Street south of New York Avenue directs traffic to use Rhode Island Avenue. -- Watch for traffic control officers at New York Avenue and North Capitol Street and at New York and Florida avenues. -- Notice that signal timing has been adjusted to improve traffic flow along Bladensburg Road, Rhode Island Avenue, and Benning Road....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 6:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Driving  
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Commuter Alert: Possible Delays on VRE

VRE reports that afternoon commuters may experience a type of delay that is typical this time of year. Wet leaves on the Manassas Line tracks may force the trains to slow down. The Manassas Line's midday train, No. 325 departing Union Station at 1:15 p.m. was struggling through such conditions this afternoon. So VRE put out an advisory saying that the rest of the afternoon's service could be similarly affected. As the trains pass over the leaves, they press oil out onto the tracks, and that can make them slippery -- especially when the trains are going uphill....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , transit  
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Some MD Buses Adjust Election Day Schedule

The Maryland Transit Authority is anticipating that many riders will want to leave work early on Election Day, so ome of its commuter buses will adjust their schedules for the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 4. If you don't see your route here, on the MTA's list, it isn't affected: Route 901 Trip numbers 49 and 54 will not operate as scheduled. Instead, one bus will run 5 minutes after trip 33, starting at 2:57 p.m., and will terminate in La Plata. The other bus will run 3 minutes after trip 40, starting at 3:53 p.m., and will terminate at 301 Park & Ride. Route 902 Trip number 30 will not operate as scheduled. Instead, it will run 5 minutes after trip 21, starting at 3:15 p.m., and will terminate at the Calvert County Fairgrounds. Route 904 Trip number 25 will not operate as scheduled. Instead, it will run 5 minutes...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , transit  
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DC DMV Office Temporarily Closed

The District Department of Motor Vehicles had to close its Brentwood Service Center today because of water damage. This is the one at 1233 Brentwood Road NE, near the Home Depot. It will be closed Tuesday as well. The DMV's Southwest Service Center at 95 M St. SW is open today until 6 p.m. to accommodate the Brentwood closure. All other DMV locations are operating on their normal schedule. Look at this link for a list of DMV service locations....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Two Eastbound Lanes of New York Ave. Closed

A water main break has forced the closure of two eastbound lanes of New York Avenue between Montana Avenue and Bladensburg Road. Workers are conducting emergency repairs, officials said. Motorists traveling eastbound are advised to steer left to avoid the work zone. Delays are expected to continue into the afternoon....

By Mike McPhate  |  October 27, 2008; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Driving  
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This Week on Virginia's Big Projects

While many of Virginia's transportation project have been severely restricted because of limited revenue and rising construction costs, several very big projects continue to advance. The Virginia Department of Transportation has an office that coordinates information about the impact these Megaprojects will have on commuters. These are the projects and their status, according to the Megaprojects office. Capital Beltway HOT Lanes Work is underway to build 14 miles of high occupancy or toll lanes from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road. There will be some daytime single lane closures as crews continue to restripe roadways, pave and prepare for bridge work. Lane closures on various nights are planned for: -- Lee Highway (Route 29) near the I-495 overpass -- I-495 north near the Leesburg Pike (Route 7) interchange -- I-495 south near the Gallows Road (Route 650) interchange -- I-495 near the Braddock Road (Route...

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Construction  
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Hearing on I-66 Plan Tonight

The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. in Washington-Lee High School in Arlington on the preliminary design of the three I-66 spot improvements. The main entrance to the building is at 1301 N. Stafford St. VDOT says that a court reporter will be available to take down public comments. The transcript will be reviewed and considered by the transportation department in establishing the final designs. Preliminary engineering and environmental documentation has been completed for the three spot improvements, intended to ease traffic flow on I-66 westbound inside the Capital Beltway without widening the highway. You can read more details on this page at VDOT's Web site....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Transportation Politics  
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Join Me For a Chat Today

We'll have an online discussion at 1 p.m. to talk about all of our local transportation issues and ideas. Whether you're looking for advice about getting around the Washington region or want to make a point about a transportation problem, meet me on this page. If you'd like to submit a question or comment ahead of time, use this link....

By Robert Thomson  |  October 27, 2008; 6:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Events  
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Traffic Alert: Marathon Today

The annual race starts at 8 a.m. today in Arlington. In addition to thousands of runners, it attracts tens of thousands of spectators. Take Metrorail to avoid congestion, whether you're going to the event or just trying to get around it. Click on race map for larger image. Metro's Plan 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 26, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Events  
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