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Get There: December 7, 2008 - December 13, 2008

SoberRide Launches Holiday Safety Campaign

The drunk-driving prevention campaign operated by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program begins another effort tonight to keep my readers alive through the holidays. If you've been overserved, SoberRide will help you get home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. each evening through Jan. 1. Residents of the Washington metropolitan area can call the toll-free SoberRide phone number 1-800-200-TAXI and receive a safe ride home in a cab at no-cost up to a $50 fare. (After that, you pay.) AT&T wireless customers can dial #-TAXI for the service. Since 1993 alone, SoberRide program has provided 41,384 free cab rides, and likely prevented many injuries and deaths. "Last December alone, 2,510 greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired," WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson said in a statement today. Local taxi companies provide the rides to people 21 years and...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Safety  
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Navigating Wilson Bridge Thru Lanes

Some readers of the blog and The Post's Commuter page told me early this week they were disappointed in the quality of the signs guiding them through the new split between Thru and Local lanes that opened last weekend on the outer loop of the Wilson Bridge. A frequent and reliable commenter who now uses "thetan" as a handle wrote: "I drove the new Outer Loop Lanes on Sunday, and I was very disappointed with the signage that was there. Dr. Gridlock showed a picture of a diagramatic overhead sign clearly showing the split between the express and local lanes. "The signs were to be color coded for local and express lanes, with local lanes in white text on black, and express (thru) lanes in black text on white. Dr. Gridlock also showed a sign in this clip which shows "Local Lane Exits" and the distances to exits you will...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 3:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some suggestions for your travels this weekend and into January. Metro Weekend Work After work wraps up Sunday night on a Red Line switch replacement and Orange Line crosstie replacement, Metrorail is done for the year with its weekend schedule of track maintenance, but look for the program and the resulting travel delays to resume in January. Here are the full details about this weekend's delays. Wilson Bridge Lanes If this weekend's work finishes on schedule, Monday morning commuters will find they have two new lanes on the Capital Beltway's inner loop across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Where the lanes divide, drivers can stay left for the two new Thru lanes or right for the three Local lanes. The outer loop's new lanes opened last weekend. The Thru lanes should be used when the destination is beyond Route 210 on the outer loop or beyond Telegraph Road on...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Avoid Wilson Bridge Traffic This Weekend

The Thru lanes on the inner loop are scheduled to open by Monday. (Thomson) The effort to open the bridge's Thru lanes on the Capital Beltway inner loop is scheduled to begin tonight and continue into Sunday. This is likely to cause severe congestion on the inner loop in Maryland. The striping and sign posting to open the new lanes on the outer loop was done last weekend. Project managers say they are encouraged about by the positive impact that had on traffic flow, particularly during the afternoon peak periods when congestion on the Virginia side can be severe. This weekend's work involves a more difficult setup for the lane openings. Starting at 9 o'clock tonight, the inner loop will shrink to a single lane from west of Branch Avenue (Route 5) to west of Telegraph Road, a stretch of about nine miles. That will continue until about noon...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Wilson Bridge  
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Passengers Evacuated From White's Ferry

About two dozen passengers were stranded this morning on White's Ferry, which crosses the Potomac River between Poolesville and Leesburg, Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said. The ferry apparently stalled because of a combination of high water levels in the river and debris in the water that was generated in the recent rains. Officials said they were working to be able to evacuate passengers from the ferry back to shore. Watch video of the rescue from News Channel 8: -- By Debbi Wilgoren...

By Washington Post Editors  |  December 12, 2008; 9:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Morning Delays on Red Line, Wisconsin Ave.

[11:30 am. Update: The District estimated the traffic signals at Tenley Circle will be working again at about 1 p.m.] The Friendship Heights Metrorail station has reopened after being closed for about half an hour following a report of smoke and a possible fire under a Red line train headed toward downtown. Everyone got off the train and no injuries have been reported, Metro says. But long delays are likely through the rest of the morning commute. Trains are sharing a single track to get around the stopped train. Meanwhile, traffic is slow on Wisconsin Avenue near the District-Montgomery County line. Traffic signals were out at Tenley Circle, at Wisconsin and Nebraska avenues, because of a power failure. The District Department of Transportation says it has set up portable stop signs and its Road Operations Patrols are assisting with traffic control. Also, there were temporary lane closures at Wisconsin and...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 12, 2008; 8:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Inauguration Options: Car Free or Big Screen TV

The more I hear about the transportation planning for Jan. 20, the more I think that those are the basic options for people who want to feel part of the inauguration. As we write about what the planners are saying, we may scare a lot of you away from the mall, and I'm not anxious to do that. This will be a once in a lifetime event for many people. On the other hand, I'm worried that thousands will be disappointed. They will find themselves too far back on the mall for the swearing in or too far back from Pennsylvania Avenue to see anything. Very few transportation plans for the day are set. But more and more of us involved in conveying inauguration transportation information are focusing on transit and walking -- with a growing emphasis on the walking. Here's a helpful new source of information, with an emphasis...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2008; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Weekend Work on Red, Orange Lines

This will be the last weekend of scheduled track work for 2008. The transit authority normally uses the weekends, when fewer people travel, for most of its big maintenance projects that require closing a section of track. Red Line One of the most time-consuming types of maintenance projects is a switch replacement. This will be the second weekend for work on switch replacement at Friendship Heights Station. Metrorail customers traveling between Medical Center and Van Ness should allow at least an extra half hour of travel time, because the trains will take turns on a single track to get around the work zone. The track sharing starts at 9 p.m. Friday and continued to midnight Sunday, when the system shuts down. Red Line trains to Glenmont will leave Shady Grove Station every 20 minutes. Every other train heading toward Shady Grove will terminate at Van Ness and return to Glenmont...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2008; 8:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Green Line Getting More Eight-Car Trains

Today through Friday, Metro is testing eight-car trains that it plans to add into service on the Green Line. During the test, all trains on the Green Line -- no matter how long -- will stop at the end of each platform. [A Yellow Line rider who boarded at Crystal City heading for Mount Vernon Square said his train also stopped at the end of the platform, something Metro had not warned us about. He said one of his colleagues had the same experience boarding at King Street.] The transit authority says this operation is about testing upgrades to power systems, tracks and rail cars. Watch the electronic display boards on the platforms that show how many cars are in the approaching train. An eight-car train fills the entire platform. If a six-car train stops at the platform end, people farther back will have to walk forward to board. Metro...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 10, 2008; 6:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Traffic Alert: 16th Street NW Reduced to One Lane

Northbound traffic on 16th Street NW has been reduced to one lane after an accident at Sheridan Street, D.C. officials said. Motorists should stay to the right or find alternative routes to avoid delays. View live traffic alerts....

By Mike McPhate  |  December 9, 2008; 4:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion  
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Metro Testing Wool Seat Coverings

Car number 6027 is the Grand Canyon of the Metrorail system. Step aboard and you can see a history of transit tests by looking at the horizontal layers from bottom to top. Testing: balls and seals seats. (Metro) The floor is one of the test versions of the new carpet-less style. The base of the center seats is wrapped in the striped carpet that replaced the original style of carpet in the older cars. The seat covers are wool rather than vinyl, a test that Metro launched today in two rail cars that will travel around the system for a few months. Look closer to the ceiling, and you'll see the new stainless steel grab handles that now have been installed on other 6000 Series rail cars. Testing: blue squares seats. (Metro) This morning, reporters got a chance to view the car at Reagan National Airport Station before it...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 9, 2008; 2:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Metro  
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Suburban Transit to Help on Inauguration Day

The Maryland Transit Administration and the Virginia Railway Express should be able to help about 50,000 people reach Washington on Inauguration Day. MARC, the Maryland commuter buses and VRE plan to run special services on Jan. 20. That's lots of cars and buses that can park outside the District of Columbia for an event that could produce intense congestion. The trains will arrive at Union Station, but the commuter buses will drive from park and ride spots to Metro stations on the region's fringe. The exact schedules and ticket arrangements have not been set yet. But all the train tickets will have to be purchased in advance. They're expected to cost $25 for a round trip, said MTA spokeswoman Cheron Victoria Wicker. The bus tickets will likely be priced at $10. MARC trains will operate from 5 to 9 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 9, 2008; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Online Discussion Today

Please join me for a chat at 1 p.m. We've got lots of traffic and transit issues in the news. Locally, we're getting new lanes on the Wilson Bridge, but what's next? And I'm already getting plenty of questions about transportation plans for Inauguration Day. Both locally and nationally, people are talking about the potential benefits of a federal stimulus package that would focus on rebuilding our transportation system, among other things. Who's got a good tip for people planning their holiday drives? Here's a link to the discussion. If you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance, use this link....

By Robert Thomson  |  December 8, 2008; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Beltway Signs for Local Lanes

Dear Dr. Gridlock: It appears that once again, the signage for the Wilson Bridge will be incomplete. Why are distances rarely included on our signs? It's annoying and unsafe to have to guess the distance to an exit. In my experience, every other jurisdiction in the country includes distances to not only the next exit, but to to the next two or three exits. Do traffic officials in the D.C. metro area never travel outside the area? Karen Nelson Arlington My readers often express their unhappiness with the number and type of signs displayed on the region's highways. Transportation officials tell me they try to avoid overloading drivers with information and instead to present that information at the spots it's most likely to be useful. I think we'll be okay with the Beltway signs for the local lane exits at the Wilson Bridge. On our Sunday Commuter page about the...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 8, 2008; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Metro Unveils New Web Site

It's got the same address, www.wmata.com, but the transit authority's revamped Web site has a completely different look today. I think the first thing you'll notice is that the colors are better, and it has a much cleaner appearance. So the appearance alone is an improvement. But as you look around and get familiar with the setup, you should also find that it's friendlier and more useful to riders. The site always contained a great deal of useful information, but it could be a bit difficult to find the right page. The home page now makes it easier to understand where the most useful information can be found. Much more of what you're looking for is available on the first click and there's very little that would take more than three clicks to find. Try this: From the top three buttons across the top, click on Maps & Stations to...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 8, 2008; 8:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Metro  
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Wilson Bridge Thru Lanes Open

Commuters are finding they have two extra lanes this morning on the Capital Beltway's outer loop as they cross the Wilson Bridge. This is one of those landmark days in the history of this huge construction project. But for most drivers, it just means one more little decision to make: At the split, they'll have to decide whether to take the Thru lanes to the left or the Local lanes to the right. There are signs two miles out and a mile out before the lanes divide. See A New Choice At Wilson Bridge from our Sunday Commuter page in The Post for further information. The inner loop's Thru lanes are scheduled to open at the end of next weekend. This has not removed the bottleneck at the Telegraph Road interchange. That work zone, where the interchange is being rebuilt, will be there for a couple more years. But that's...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 8, 2008; 8:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Construction , Wilson Bridge  
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