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Get There: November 23, 2008 - November 29, 2008

The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some suggestions for your travels this weekend and during December. Thanksgiving Return While drivers do stagger their homebound trips at the end of their Thanksgiving holidays, Sunday afternoon is still a prime time for highway congestion. Among the most likely chokepoints in the Washington area are Interstate 95 between Richmond and the Springfield Interchange, the Telegraph Road interchange on the Capital Beltway's outer loop, I-66 both eastbound and westbound, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I-270 approaching the Beltway and much of the Beltway itself across Montgomery County. Wilson Bridge Avoid the Capital Beltway at the Wilson Bridge for the first two weekends in December. That's when project managers are planning to do the lane painting and the sign placement that will guide drivers onto the new through lanes. If the weather isn't too cold or wet, the work will be done on the outer loop during the first weekend...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 28, 2008; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Thanksgiving Crush: Clean Getaway or a Traffic Mess?

Did you get trapped in the mad dash out of town for the holidays? Answer the poll below and share your congestion tales in the comment section. Traffic Cams | Last Minute Travel Tips | Alternative Holiday Routes | Getaway Weather...

By Mike McPhate  |  November 26, 2008; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Congestion , Getaway , holiday travel  
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It's Getaway Day

5:40 p.m. Update: We've still got heavy traffic on the Interstates and 295, but it's only moderately bad. An early start to the rush around noon today, really good weather and a relatively small number of accidents have really helped keep the jams under control in the late afternoon and early evening. The first time we're likely to see bad driving weather around here is later in the day on Sunday. 5:20 p.m. Update: Looking way up the road to I-95 in Delaware, traffic is very heavy, especially northbound, heading toward the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (This is a stretch of highway that my long-distance travelers just hate.) If you want to keep an eye on the Delaware situation, use this link. 5:15 p.m. Update: The worst spot I can find on the region's traffic cameras is the outer loop heading toward the Wilson Bridge, but that's hardly a surprise. The...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 26, 2008; 6:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Getaway  
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The Holiday Getaway Through Maryland

The Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates the tunnels and bridges and their toll plazas doesn't expect traffic volumes to be any greater this Thanksgiving than last. Like the other transportation agencies, the authority anticipates the highest volumes on Wednesday and Sunday, although the pace has been picking up on the Tuesdays before Thanksgiving. The authority's advice: Travel during off-peak hours, use E-ZPass and call 877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) for updated traffic conditions on the Cheasapeake Bay Bridge. (You also can go to baybridge.com for updates and camera views.) Along Interstate 95 Here's what the authority suggests on when to travel to avoid the bottlenecks at the toll plazas along I-95: -- Today after 10 p.m. or Wednesday, before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m. -- Thanksgiving through Sunday, before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. While all our local transportation departments suspend their construction projects right around the holidays, the construction construct...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2008; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway  
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Traffic Alert: Water Main Break Snarls 16th Street NW

The break on 16th Street is between R and S streets NW in downtown Washington, to the north of Scott Circle and east of Dupont Circle. Only one lane is open in each direction, the District Department of Transportation says. This is very likely to delay homeward bound drivers this afternoon. The best alternatives are the parallel north-south streets: 14th, 15th or 18th. Repair work is underway, but WASA estimates the fix will take at least eight hours. DDOT Road Operation Patrols and traffic control officers are working in the area....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2008; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion  
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Metro Means 'One Day' on Inaugural Pass

During our online discussion Monday about holiday travel (thanks for inviting me to join in, Flight Crew), one reader asked a question about traveling to the presidential inaugural in January by Metro. I thought I'd answer that here. "Washington, DC: I am confused by something from Metro's FAQ: 'Off-peak fares will be charged all day. Metrorail's One-Day Pass, available for $7.80 each day, will be valid throughout the four-day Inauguration Weekend.' "Does this mean that a single day pass can be used for all four days? If so, that's a real deal." Commemorative card. Metro doesn't have that kind of revenue to throw around. You can use the pass on any one of the four days, says Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel, but that's it. They are time coded. For example, if you use a card on Saturday it will not be good for Sunday. The phrasing that confused the reader...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2008; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Police Probe Report of Suspicious Activity on Bus Bound for Pentagon

A passenger on a MetroBus headed toward the Pentagon this morning called authorities to report possible suspicious activity involving two other bus passengers. MPD, Pentagon police and the FBI responded to the call. Officials interviewed people on the bus and as of 10:30 a.m. were still on the scene. FBI Spokeswoman Debbie Weierman says "at this time there are no dangers, no threats" and no arrests have been made. -- By Carrie Johnson...

By Mike McPhate  |  November 25, 2008; 10:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Safety  
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MTA Buses on Holiday Schedule

The afternoon trips on some Maryland Transit Administration commuter buses has been changed to accommodate commuters who want to leave Washington early on Thanksgiving eve. On the trips being doubled up, the MTA says, the second bus will start its trip five minutes after the first bus's regularly scheduled departure time. These are the changes, and if it's not listed here it's not changed: Route 901 trips 49, 53, and 59 will not operate as scheduled. Instead, two buses each, will run trips 31 (mid-day), 32, and 33, making all regularly scheduled stops. Route 902 trips 30 and 33 will not operate as scheduled. Instead, two buses each will run trips 18 (mid-day) and 19, making all regularly scheduled stops. Route 904 trips 23 and 25 will not operate, as scheduled. Instead, two buses each will run trips 15 (mid-day) and 16. Both of trips 15 and 16 will consolidate...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2008; 10:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting  
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When the Shopping Starts

Metro will operate on a Sunday-type schedule on Thanksgiving Day, with four-car trains running from 7 a.m. to midnight. Then it will open an hour early, at 4 a.m., on Friday, because it's such a busy shopping day. It's also a regular weekday, not a holiday, so the weekday fare system will be in place and drivers will pay to park at Metro's lots and garages. Those driving to malls in Northern Virginia on Friday will notice that the timing of the traffic signals around the malls is different. The Virginia Department of Transportation will be making its annual adjustment to the traffic pattern that dominates during the holidays. VDOT has been doing this since 1999. (Maryland uses a signal technology that the State Highway Administration says can respond automatically to changing traffic congestion.) In Virginia, the signals controlling 178 intersections around 12 big shopping centers -- including Tysons, Manassas...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2008; 7:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Driving , Metro , holiday travel  
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Avoid Holiday Congestion This Week

Heavy holiday traffic is right ahead, as seen here on I-95. (Thomson) Get out of town now. That's the advice from my readers and from transportation departments. Don't wait till after noon on Wednesday to make your Thanksgiving escape. But if you suspect it's not the first time you've heard that advice, you're right. More and more people do start the Thanksgiving getaway earlier in the week. So other periods -- Tuesday evening, for example -- also are starting to get crowded on the roads. AAA reports that the national average price of gas fell below $2 a gallon on Friday, for the first time since March 2005. Prices have fallen nearly 50 percent since peaking in mid-July at $4.11 a gallon. While AAA projects that fewer people will travel far for Thanksgiving this year, it still expects a travel boom for the week, with Wednesday afternoon and Sunday...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Congestion , Getaway  
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Watch Speed on Va. Beltway

Drivers on the Capital Beltway between Springfield and the Wilson Bridge should pay close attention to the speed limit signs during the day on Monday and Tuesday. This will be the first full day test of Virginia's Variable Speed Limit program in that zone. The program, designed to maximize the safe flow of traffic through the Telegraph Road work zone, started over the summer, but operated mostly at night, so many commuters are still unfamiliar with it. Watch for electronically displayed speed limit signs that can vary the speed limit depending on the degree of congestion ahead of you. State police will be watching them, too....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2008; 6:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting  
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