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Get There: November 2, 2008 - November 8, 2008

Traffic Alert: Gas Leak Closes River Road in Bethesda

Fire officials have shut River Road between Little Falls Parkway and Ridgefield Road in Bethesda after a major gas leak, according to a report by News Channel 8. Officials also evacuated the Westwood Shopping Center after the leak was reported around 3 p.m., according to the report. Workers are on the scene trying to repair the damage. No injuries have been reported....

By Mike McPhate  |  November 7, 2008; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Safety  
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The Weekend and Beyond

These are some suggestions and tips for your travels this weekend and the rest of the month. Metrorail Weekend Delays Track work will cause some delays of as long as 25 minutes this weekend for riders on the Blue, Orange and Red lines. To see the full details, use this link. And remember that Metro now puts out a monthly list of upcoming weekend projects. You'll find the November list here. Checkpoint on Baltimore Bridge The Maryland Transportation Authority police plan to set up a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night on the toll plaza at the Key Bridge (the I-695 bridge). The police will distribute information about drunk-driving laws, and they'll arrest anyone they catch driving while impaired. Douglass Bridge on Sunday The Frederick Douglass Bridge, which takes South Capitol Street over the Anacostia River, will be closed from 5 a.m. to about 10 a.m. Sunday so workers can test the...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 7, 2008; 11:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro GM to Chat Online at Noon

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. is scheduled to hold an online discussion at noon today over on Metro's Web site. It's one of Metro's regular "LunchTalk Online" sessions. Catoe has done a bunch of these; the last was in September. Here's a link to post questions or comments before or during today's chat. In the discussion, which you'll be able to read here, Catoe plans to take whatever questions you have about Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess services. The discussions usually go on for an hour....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 7, 2008; 6:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Road Safety Project Starting in Silver Spring

Maryland's State Highway Administration is going to widen the intersection of Piney Branch Road and University Boulevard in Silver Spring. The safety project, which starts next week, is scheduled to be done in late summer. This fall, crews will relocate utilities and remove the concrete islands. In the spring, work will start on widening and resurfacing the roadway and installing a new median, curb and gutter. Watch for right-lane closures in both directions of Piney Branch Road and University between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays and double lane closures between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Saturdays through Thursdays. The project will widen the northwest corner of the intersection to provide an exclusive right turn lane from eastbound University Boulevard to southbound Piney Branch Road. The goal is to reduce congestion. The work also involves replacing the traffic loop detectors, installing pavement markings, upgrading the sidewalks, replacing curbs and gutters,...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 6, 2008; 3:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Safety  
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Bus Rider Gets Farebox Lesson

At Metro headquarters this morning, I got a lesson in how to add fare to my SmarTrip card on a Metrobus farebox. This page shows you how to do it. I needed the lesson, because in all my years of paying for fares with a SmarTrip card, I've never added to its value while standing at a bus farebox. I find it much easier to do that in rail stations, where I can walk up to a big vending machine away from the fare gates. But I've been hearing from people who ride but buses exclusively, and wouldn't have any reason to go to a Metrorail station. Metro is planning to offer more places where people can add value on SmarTrip cards, but it's a big region. So most people would wind up using the add value feature on the buses' fareboxes. This is getting to be a big deal,...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 6, 2008; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro  
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DC Studying Bus Service Changes

The District and the transit authority are considering a plan to eliminate Metrobus Route 98, the Adams Morgan-U Street link, and switch that service over to the Circulator bus system. This is part of a much broader effort to rethink transit service in Washington that led to a series of public meetings in September. It's called the Neighborhood Circulation Study. We've got this huge resource in Metrorail, a system designed to move commuters in and out of the region's core. What else have we got? We've got a bus system that's still a mish-mash of lines dating to the mid-20th century, when the transit authority was forced to take over several private bus companies that were failing. Transit planners in all the jurisdictions are thinking about the other links we need to make. In Maryland, it's the Purple Line, for east-west travel between suburban centers. In the District, it's fast...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 6, 2008; 6:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Metro , transit  
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Alerts for D.C. Commuters

A fire this afternoon has forced authorities to close Massachusetts Avenue NW from the 1500 block to the 1800 block. Check our Traffic page for updates. For Metrorail riders: A Pepco power outage has shut the escalators and elevators at the Benning Road Station on the Blue Line, though the station remains open. Check this page at Metro's Web site for updates....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 5, 2008; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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MTA Issues Metrochek Reminder

I'm sure we'll be talking more about this: Metrocheks won't be issued to employers after Nov. 15. Starting Dec. 1, they move to a new system of SmartBenefit vouchers. The larger thing going on is the move toward electronic benefits and electronic fare payments through the SmartBenefit and SmarTrip programs. But transit users whose train and bus systems don't let them pay by SmarTrip are stuck in the middle of this transition. So they'll be switched from Metrocheks to the SmartBenefit vouchers. The Maryland Transit Administration issued a reminder to riders today that SmartBenefit vouchers will replace the Metrocheks and that the commuter buses operated by Keller, Dillon, and Eyre Bus companies will start accepting them on Dec. 1. SmartBenefit vouchers will be available in $1, $10 and $30 denominations and will be accepted under the same provisions as the Metrocheks. Metrocheks already distributed to employees will continue to be...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 5, 2008; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , transit  
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VRE Leader Doing Online Forum Today

If you've had your fill of post-election commentary by noon, take a look at Virginia Railway Express CEO Dale Zehner's online discussion. Zehner will answer questions about the rail system for an hour. Here's a link to the discussion....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 5, 2008; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , transit  
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Election Day on MTA

Reminder about the afternoon schedule on the Maryland commuter buses: The Maryland Transit Administration was anticipating that many riders would want to leave work early on Election Day, so it adjusted some trips. 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 after trip...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 4, 2008; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting  
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Sunset Comes Early

This is our first evening commute since the clocks rolled back. Sunset is at 5:05 p.m. Though it happens every year, the end of Daylight Saving Time still seems to sneak up on some commuters, whether they're driving, walking or waiting at bus stops. Even if you're making the proper adjustments, be a little extra cautious in case your fellow commuters haven't caught up. Drivers and walkers should cut each other a little extra slack in the dark. Drivers, take a little tour of the vehicles and make sure the lights, windows and mirrors are clear. While you worked today, falling leaves may have obscured some views. Don't wait to turn on the headlights, even if you think you can still see. Remember, they're helping other drivers and walkers see you, as well. Watch your speed and the distance to the next vehicle. Bicyclists, turn the lights on for the...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 3, 2008; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Rock Creek Park Roadwork

Here's the schedule for some midday roadwork this week in Rock Creek Park. Today Maintenance workers will be cleaning catch basins and removing trees on Piney Branch Parkway, which will be closed from Beach Drive to Arkansas Avenue, NW from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Beach Drive will be closed from Park Road to Piney Branch Parkway NW from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday Beach Drive will be closed from Joyce Road to Broad Branch Road NW from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 3, 2008; 8:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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Monday Night Football at FedEx

Metrorail will be running till 1 a.m. because of the football game at FedEx Field. Remember that if you're parking at a Metro lot or garage, you're going to have to pay, because it's a weekday, and most of them require a SmarTrip card payment to exit. The closest Metrorail station to the game is Morgan Boulevard, which is about a mile walk along a sidewalk. The next best is Largo. Both are on the Blue Line, which will have some extra trains on standby after the game if there's crowding. The game between the Redskins and the Steelers starts at 8:30 p.m. Here's a map of the nearby roads and parking areas....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 3, 2008; 8:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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