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Get There: December 14, 2008 - December 20, 2008

Drive Carefully on a Wet, Foggy Getaway Day

Temperatures are above freezing across the region, so while the rain will continue into the evening, it's just a cold rain. Watch out, though, for some patches of fog. The Capital Weather Gang has a P.M. Update. This is a getaway afternoon for many drivers heading out for the holidays, and you might find traffic a bit heavier. But it's unlikely to be as congested as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. At the end of December, people have more options to spread out their travel. For example, a lot of people can use Christmas and New Year's to create four-day weekends this year. You can get the latest on traffic on our Traffic page, or look at the camera views on When you're on the road this afternoon, don't be reading us -- there's enough to distract you already. Listen to Bob Marbourg on WTOP radio at 103.5 or 107.7...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 19, 2008; 3:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Here's some advice about your weekend and holiday travels, as well as some inauguration travel planning. Weekend on Metro Metrorail is done with its weekend track maintenance work for the rest of the years, so there aren't any travel delays on the schedule for this weekend. Holiday Planning Notes If you're leaving on a long holiday trip and plan to use your E-ZPass toll transponder, check your account to make sure it has enough money to cover the trip. Transportation departments generally suspend their road projects right around the holidays. At the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a crucial passageway for many holiday travelers, there will be no lane closures for construction on the Virginia side from noon Wednesday until 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29. Work will again be suspended from noon Dec. 31 until 9:30 a.m. Jan. 5. On the Maryland side, there will be no lane closures from noon Wednesday until...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 19, 2008; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro Will Charge $4 to Park on Inauguration Day

I was hoping it would be a one-bill transaction, like a five dollar or 10 dollar bill. But Metro says it can't charge more for parking than it generally does now without holding a public hearing, and there isn't time. So when you arrive at the Metro parking garages and lots on Jan. 20, have four dollar bills to hand to a parking attendant as you enter. The gates will be up when you exit. Cash is the only form of payment for parking on Inauguration Day. No fumbling for SmarTrip cards on the way out. Metro's parking facilities are going to open at 3:30 a.m. The stations will open at 4 a.m. Don't count on the parking spaces being available for too long. There will be at least 40,000 spaces available for cars. Buses will be assigned to about 1,200 parking spots. Once a facility is full, it will...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 18, 2008; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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Fire Temporarily Closes State Department, Parts of E St.

Update, 11:45 a.m.: The State Department building has reopened after being closed for a few hours while firefighters probed a blaze that ignited during an asbestos abatement project, the Associated Press reports. Original post: The investigation of a flash fire in the U.S. State Department building has closed parts of E Street NW, from Independence Ave. to Virginia Ave. and 23rd Street between C and E Street. See live traffic alerts. D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. on the fifth floor of the building at 2200 C Street. There are no reports of injuries. Etter said firefighters are making sure the fire did not spread, but he said there is no apparent damage to the building. The Associated Press contributed to this report....

By Washington Post Editors  |  December 18, 2008; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Man Hit, Killed by Metro Train at Shady Grove

Update, 12:42 p.m.: Service on the Red Line is reportedly back to normal. Update, 11:21 a.m.: WTOP is reporting the man has died. Original post: Red Line riders are facing delays this morning after a man was hit by a train at the Shady Grove station, Metro officials said. The train was headed to Glenmont when it hit the man at around 9:50 a.m. Early reports from witnesses say the man jumped on the tracks. About 20 minutes later, rescue crews removed the man, who was alive, from underneath the train and transported him to a local hospital. There is limited service at Shady Grove, Rockville and Twinbrook Metrorail stations, with trains in both direction sharing a single track. Metro has set up a shuttle bus service to help transport passengers. Passengers can expect delays throughout morning as Metro continues to investigate. -- Lena Sun...

By Mike McPhate  |  December 17, 2008; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , Safety  
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Inauguration Train Tickets Available for MARC, VRE

MARC tickets will go on sale Saturday. VRE is going with a tickets by mail program. Tickets for Maryland's commuter buses can be bought aboard the buses on Jan. 20. Here are more details about the tickets and services. MARC Roundtrip tickets for reserved MARC train service will cost $25. Each traveler must have a ticket. All tickets are marked for use on specific trains. No exchanges will be allowed. Passengers who miss their reserved trains should contact Amtrak station personnel for assistance. No other type of ticket besides the reserved train ticket will be good on Jan. 20. Two purchase options: Cash Only. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, tickets wil be on sale for cash at Camden Yards Station and Monocacy Station. Cash purchases for the Camden and Penn lines will be sold only at the Camden Yards Station, and the cash tickets for the Brunswick MARC...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 17, 2008; 6:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Inauguration , transit  
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Metro Leader to Propose Peak Fares for Inauguration Day

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said today that he will ask the Metro Board of Directors to allow him to charge full fares for Metrorail service during much of Jan. 20. He also will recommend that the transit authority charge for parking at its lots and garages. Metro had been planning on charging off peak fares, even though it will be providing rush-period service for 15 straight hours, from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking was to be free, partly because paying for parking almost always requires the use of a SmarTrip electronic fare card, and many out of towners won't have them. Like many of my readers, I think the peak fares is an easy call. Inauguration Day is going to cost us a small fortune. There's no way Metro could make a profit on this intensive service, but at least we can limit the financial damage...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 16, 2008; 3:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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Foggy Bottom Escalators Out -- Again

Dear Dr. Gridlock: I have worked for over eight years near the Foggy Bottom Metro station, and I use it every weekday. For months now at least one and often two of the three escalators at Foggy Bottom have been inoperative. Since there is a large amount of both "up and down" traffic during the evening rush, what is now frequently happening is that only one stationary escalator is open -- with folks lining up on 23rd Street for nearly a block both north and south to gain access to the station. Thus it takes 10-15 minutes just to get into the station. This is intolerable, especially as we are approaching the winter. Metro needs to get off the dime and work this problem 7/24 until it is fixed. I can hear the excuses now -- lack of funds, lack of skilled workers, lack of parts, etc. That does not...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 16, 2008; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Transit Work Beginning Along Route 123 in Tysons

Map shows area where preparation work is beginning. (Dulles Rail Partners) The work that drivers see this week along Route 123 in Tysons Corner is preparation for construction of new Metrorail line through Tysons and out to Wiehle Avenue. Land bounded by International Drive and Tysons Boulevard and by Route 123 and Galleria Place will be cleared of vegetation so that construction trailers can be positioned and utility lines relocated. This also will become the eastern side of a 2,100-foot train tunnel under the intersection of Routes 7 and 123. From drivers' eye level, it's impossible to tell, but this area is the high point of Fairfax County. Trains can't go up one side and down the other. The grade would be too steep. That's why the tunnel is part of the plan. This isn't a change: It's not the full tunnel under Tysons that many people would have...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 16, 2008; 8:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Metro  
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Wilson Bridge Lanes Open But Work Continues

All four of the bridge's Thru lanes are open and should provide relief from congestion, but there's still the Telegraph Road interchange project, among other things left complete before the overall project is done. This week, Telegraph Road is scheduled to be closed between Huntington Avenue and North Kings Highway from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight through Friday morning and again on Monday and Tuesday of next week. This is for ramp bridge construction. Workers will be erecting and connecting steel beams for the second of two bridges over Telegraph Road as part of ramps that will eventually carry traffic from the Capital Beltway's outer loop to North Kings Highway and Huntington Avenue, project managers announced today. During the closure hours, northbound traffic will be detoured via North Kings Highway to Route 1 to Huntington Avenue and back to Telegraph Road. Southbound traffic will be detoured via Huntington Avenue...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 15, 2008; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Have You Heard? Metro Upgrades Public Address System

Metro says it has completed a $7.5 million program to replace the public address system in 38 underground stations. The clarity of the audio communications has been a top issue among riders for many years. So how do the announcements sound to you now? Do you find them clearer? Notice they're now preceded by two chimes, to help get your attention. The speakers are installed on most of the pylons on the platforms and along the walls, to enhance the sound quality. Originally, the transit authority said, the speakers were placed behind parapet walls, adjacent to where people stand on the platforms. But it turned out the sound quality wasn't the best, and in some stations, the sound would bounce off the parapet walls. Besides the new installation on the platforms, Metro also replaced the communications radio system inside its Operations Control Center, which dated to the opening of the...

By Robert Thomson  |  December 15, 2008; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Metro  
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