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Get There: January 4, 2009 - January 10, 2009

Metro Alert: Red Line Riders Face Major Delays

Red Line riders can expect delays of up to 30 minutes throughout the evening because of a cracked rail that was discovered on an outbound track just outside the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Metrorail station, officials said. Trains are sharing one track between Woodley Park and Van Ness-UDC Metrorail stations with delays in both directions. The cracked rail was discovered just after 4 p.m. Contrary to earlier information, Metro officials said a train operator traveled over the cracked rail and reported a problem. Metro's operations control center sent another train operator to inspect the track and discovered the crack. Track repair crews are on the scene working to fix the problem. Metro riders can use the L2 Metrobus which travels along Connecticut Avenue as an alternative. However, Metro is telling riders that a Metro train can carry about 1,000 passengers compared to a Metrobus which can carry only about 50. --...

By Mike McPhate  |  January 9, 2009; 5:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Metro  
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Traffic Alert: Accident Snarls I-95 SB in Pr. George's

Update: 6:12 p.m.: Accident has been cleared to both shoulders. Southbound backups begin before Route 100. Original post: A multi-vehicle accident on I-95 southbound before Route 212 is creating backups. Just two left lanes are getting by, slowing traffic from Route 32. I-95 northbound is slow off of each loop of the Beltway as drivers look at the accident. NBC4 is reporting that the crash happened about 3 p.m., sending five people were sent to area hospitals. See live traffic alerts....

By Mike McPhate  |  January 9, 2009; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some suggestions for your travels this weekend and during the rest of January. Weekend Track Work They're back, after suspending work during the holidays. Here's the schedule for this weekend's efforts, which will delay travel on the Blue and Red lines. (No work scheduled for the long inaugural weekend. Here's the schedule for the rest of the month.) Eight-Car Trains Pay special attention to the electronic information signs on the Metrorail platforms Tuesday and Wednesday. On those days, half of the trains will be eight cars long during the peak periods, the transit authority says. During the off-peak hours, all trains are scheduled to be eight cars. This is a continuation of the tests Metro has been doing to prepare for the heavy demands of Inauguration Day service. But I've noticed that on the previous test days this month, many riders got confused about where the trains would...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2009; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Warning: Pants-less Agitators to Storm Metro Saturday

Participants in the 2008 No Pants Metro Ride wait for a train at Gallery Place. (Ricky Carioti-- Washington Post) You might want to arm yourself with some sanitary wipes for any Metrorail travel tomorrow. Improv Everywhere, a prankster coalition that has a mission of creating "scenes of chaos and joy in public places," plans to send operatives into the Metrorail system who will then drop their trousers in an act of near-naked rebellion. The group performed the first "no pants" event in the New York subway in 2002; it has since spawned copycat events in 23 other cities from Adelaide, Australia to Warsaw, Poland. (Improv Everywhere is best known for other normalcy-smashing stunts like Frozen Grand Central and The Amazing Hypnotist). The D.C. chapter plans to meet at Hancock Park at 3 p.m. tomorrow, then bring the nakedness inside L'Enfant Plaza station. After last year's event, the Post's Dan Zak...

By Mike McPhate  |  January 9, 2009; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Meeting the Jan. 20 Challenge in Virginia

Now that we have so much information to work with concerning travel on Inauguration Day, let's start breaking it down so we can figure out how you'll get where you're going. Since the travel task is likely to be most difficult in Virginia, we should start in the Commonwealth and look at Maryland and the District separately. The Potomac River hasn't been such an obstacle to reaching Washington since Washington was alive. Cars will be barred from the Virginia-D.C. bridges for much of Inauguration Day. Drivers would have to swing over to the Wilson and Legion bridges and enter the District from Maryland. Here's a link to The Post transportation map. This puts very heavy pressure on transit services between Virginia and Washington. The Orange Line will be particularly stressed. Two developments this week are likely to affect Orange Line travel: -- Metro announced that a relative handful of charter...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Metro Boosting Bus Service for Inauguration Day

Dear Dr. Gridlock: I live in Arlington. I would like to go downtown on Inauguration Day but it looks from the appearance of all the closed bridges that they do not want Virginians down there. That's ok, I'll just take a bus! I have my handy dandy 3Y [Lee Highway to Farragut Square] and it will whisk me downtown over the "buses only" bridges. (Smart!) But I look and look and metro says they are running Saturday schedules which means NO 3Y. Tell me, why would they close the bridges to everything but buses and then not run them? Yes, there is the Orange Line, but they are going to need professional white-gloved shovers like they use in Japan to get everybody on. Virginians have fewer options than anybody else and now they have limited us even more by not running buses and running buses on a limited schedule. Have...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 8, 2009; 1:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Ice, Accidents Make for Slow Morning Commute

Icy roads have created hazardous driving conditions across the region. Traffic on I-270 is particularly slow after a ten-car pileup on the southbound lanes of I-270 closed a ramp from the highway onto the Capitol Beltway. Read the full report here. Check the live traffic page to see an update of the roads on your commute....

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 8, 2009; 6:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Inauguration Plan Walls Off Central Washington

The plan that federal and local authorities announced this afternoon puts a virtual wall around central Washington on Jan. 20. Forget about the varying estimates on how many millions will show up for the inauguration. The restrictions in this plan tell us what we need to know about how bad a day it will be for commuters and spectators, and it will be very, very bad. (Tell us how you plan to get to work in our poll below. ) People will have an easier time getting in from Maryland than Virginia. In fact, for much of the day, drivers won't be able to enter Washington from Virginia. But it will be pretty ugly for everybody. More and more, we see the heavy burden falling on Metro, particularly on the lines that will bring people from Northern Virginia. Main Roads and Bridges on Jan. 20, 4 a.m.-7 p.m. -- 14th...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 7, 2009; 5:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (81)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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VRE Manager Holding Online Discussion

Dale Zehner, the CEO of the Virginia Railway Express, plans to have an online chat with riders at noon today on the VRE Web site. VRE says he will answer questions about the new fares, new schedules, the Inauguration Day train service and any other service issues. Here's a link to that discussion. It allows you to post questions in advance....

By Robert Thomson  |  January 7, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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Metro Testing Trains for Inauguration

This is the third day of the week's four-day test of Metro's ability to run the maximum number of eight-car trains on Inauguration Day, and it's causing some confusion among riders. Dear Dr. Gridlock: I asume the idea was to make sure that train operators are up to the task of stopping the trains at the end of their 600-foot platforms. Tuesday night, at McPherson Square, many other Metro riders and I experienced what Metro really meant. In the 20 minutes or so I spent waiting for an Orange Line train to Courthouse, seven Blue and Orange line six-car trains arrived at the station and all of them did not stop until the lead car was at the end of the outbound platform -- at the eight-car train stop. As you can imagine, the sprinting was on for those on the platform prepared to board the trains at their somewhat...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 7, 2009; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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Metro Changes Bus Parking Plan for Jan. 20

It's hard for commuters and visitors to settle on final plans for travel on Inauguration Day. The rules keep changing:The transit authority announced this afternoon that it has altered the parking plan for its lots and garages, because it hasn't heard from many bus operators who want to park. The effect will be to open up thousands more spaces for cars at all but one station: The Minnesota Avenue Station parking lot will be closed to provide parking for Metro employees working on Inauguration Day. Metro had set aside parking for 1,100 charter buses. But in a statement this afternoon, the transit authority said it has gotten requests for parking from only 35 bus operators. (Keep in mind this is strictly the Metro part of the charter bus parking operation.) Metro officials say they will accommodate the charter companies that made reservations, but will no longer take requests. No passenger...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 6, 2009; 4:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Inauguration  
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Traffic Alert: 14th Street NW Closed Due to Fire

Closed are 14th Street NW between Florida Avenue and V Street, and the intersection of 15th Street NW and W Street NW. Live traffic updates....

By Mike McPhate  |  January 6, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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Watch Roads to North and West

Seems like the most hazardous driving conditions we have around here occur when the temperature hovers around freezing and there's light precipitation. In other words, a forecast similar to the one for this afternoon's commute to the north and west of Washington. If you're driving through Loudoun, or northern Montgomery and Frederick counties, that means you. Weather radar is showing some mixed precipitation in those areas at 3:30 p.m. Look here to see how the Capital Weather Gang describes the situation. Many drivers traveling from the Washington area will be driving through rain at first but must be alert for a sudden change to icy road surfaces. This isn't always easy to see, and won't necessarily show up first in the form of stuff pinging off the windshield. Check our Traffic center for updates on road conditions and camera views. Marylanders can get other useful information at these sites: --...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 6, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Weather  
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Audio: Debating the Purple Line Proposal

Two local officials join columnist Marc Fisher today for a discussion on the prospects for the rail project. Guests Kathy Strom, mayor of the town of Chevy Chase, and George Leventhal, a Montgomery County Council member, take opposing views on the proposed routes for the line and the options of light rail versus bus transit. Fisher wrote recently on the need for compromise in the Purple Line debate. Full coverage of the Purple Line....

By Mike McPhate  |  January 6, 2009; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Metro Offers Alerts on Short-Term Bus Detours

Metro has launched a new Web page that warns riders of short-term bus detours. The service comes just in time for the presidential swearing-in ceremony when street closures will force plenty of disruptions in service. Check out the new page....

By Mike McPhate  |  January 6, 2009; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Fee Increases Likely for Maryland E-ZPass

Maryland would establish a monthly account maintenance fee of $1.50, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority plan announced Monday. That would become effective in July. Among the other changes that would take effect at mid-year: -- A charge of $21 for new or replacement transponders. -- A charge of $3 on a Notice of Toll Due. (You'll pay $3 plus the toll due.) -- An increase on a toll violation from $15 to $25. -- The duration of E-ZPass commuter plans would be reduced from 60 days to 45 days. -- While tolls for cars would stay the same, they would increase for big trucks and other vehicles with more than two axles, or pulling trailers. On March 1, commuter ticket sales for Bay Bridge drivers would end. The last day to use commuter tickets would be shown on the final ticket book, but it would be on or before...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 6, 2009; 8:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Driving  
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Detours in Downtown Washington

During Monday morning's Roads and Rails discussion with Eric Weiss and Lena Sun, there were many comments about the street closings downtown around the Hay Adams Hotel where the Obamas are staying until they can move into the White House. Alternative driving routes include K Street for east-west traffic, L Street for eastbound traffic and M Street for westbound traffic. This is what Metro says about bus detours: The following routes are on detour in the downtown Washington area until further notice: 30s, 42, 11Y, G8, P17/19, L2, W13, S2/4 and the X2/3. To keep up with the detours and disruptions, check Metro's Web site and look to the left for Metro Service Status. That's divided into tabs for Metrorail, Metrobus and Elevator. Here's a direct link to the Service Status page, in case you want to book market. Here's a link to the page where you can sign up...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 5, 2009; 12:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Advisories , Inauguration  
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Seniors Ask About SmarTrip Status

Many readers asked the following question after seeing my Dr. Gridlock column and the Commuter page on Sunday. Dear Dr. Gridlock: I have a blue/green SmartTrip card coded to permit application of senior fares. I presume I can continue to use this card, notwithstanding the introduction of a new yellow card for riders with senior status. Is this correct? Arthur L. Freeman Montgomery County Yes. If you have one of Metro's blue and green SmarTrip cards that was set up to provide the senior discount, you're stlll good. You can continue using that as you always have. My concern is for people who have the copper-colored Senior ID card that Metro used to issue, but do not have any form of SmarTrip card. Most of these folks ride buses, rather than Metrorail, so they never went to the trouble of getting a SmarTrip. They are the ones I'm urging to...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 5, 2009; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Metro's Parking Plans for Inauguration Day

Here are Metro's parking rules for Jan. 20, and no matter how bad it sounds, I still think that Metrorail is the best bet for getting to the inaugural or just getting to work on that busy day: Car's won't be allowed to park at the Greenbelt, Morgan Boulevard, Van Dorn Street and Minnesota Avenue stations. They'll be reserved for charter bus parking, and these will be the only stations where the charters can park. To prepare for Inauguration Day, all Metrorail parking facilities will close at midnight on Monday and will be cleared of vehicles in preparation for Inauguration Day. Cars parked in those spots after midnight will be ticketed and towed. All the Metrorail parking areas will open at 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 20. Cars will be charged $4 for all-day parking on the way in. It's cash only. No SmarTrip cards or credit cards. At the end...

By Robert Thomson  |  January 5, 2009; 6:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Inauguration , Metro  
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