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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 stop.

No matter how long they are, the trains will stop at the head of the platform on the test days. That's part of the test for the operators. But if the train is six cars long, the last cars will pass by the platform spots where many people are used to standing, so they have to run up to catch the train.

Temporary Bus Detours
Drivers and bus riders got a small sample of the traffic disruptions that will surround the inaugural activities when police closed off some streets around the Hay-Adams Hotel, the spot near Lafayette Park where the Obamas are staying.

Many bus riders complained that they hadn't been warned about changes in the routes. In response, Metro has posted more details for bus riders on its Web site. Look on the home page under "Metro Service Alerts." Also, it's a good time to sign up on the Web site for the text alerts Metro sends to mobile devices.

Inaugural Bike Valet
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association plans to provide free bike valet parking sites north and south of the mall on Inauguration Day. "We have two locations finalized," said Eric Gilliland, the association's executive director, "one at 16th Street NW just south of K Street and one in the parking lot on the south side of the Jefferson Memorial." Hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Maryland Transit
MARC train tickets for Jan. 20 are sold out but inauguration visitors and commuters can still get aboard the commuter buses that will ferry people between park and ride lots and Metro stations.

The buses to leave the park and rides every 10 to 15 minutes between 5:30 and 10:30 a.m. and return on the same schedules between 4 and 9 p.m. Roundtrip tickets are $10, and riders can buy them onboard the buses. Unlike the MARC trains, there are no reserved seats. The park and ride locations are listed on the Maryland Transit Administration Web site

Jan. 20 Updates
I'll be posting frequently to my Get There blog as I travel around on Inauguration Day, checking on the latest conditions. Text Getthere to WPOST (97678) for a link to the blog on your mobile phone.

Circulator Passes
The D.C. Circulator buses no longer accept MARC and VRE passes as transfers. That's a blow to commuters who could switch to Circulator routes at L'Enfant Plaza or Union Station.

Monthly Circulator passes are available online at CommuterDirect.com for $40. Another option is to buy one of Metro's SmarTrip cards, which can be used on the Circulators and on Metrobuses as well as Metrorail. The provide free bus to bus transfers.

Lane Restrictions
The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled lane shifts on Lorton Road from Monday through Thursday nights as part of the widening of Interstate 95.

A crane will be lifting steel beams over Lorton Road to build the fourth lane of I-95. From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on these nights, Lorton Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Traffic signals will be set to flash as police direct motorists. Ramps will remain open. The right lanes on I-95 near the Lorton Road exit (exit 163) also are scheduled to close during these nights.

Rockville Pike Interchange
Watch for occasional lane closures on Rockville Pike at Randolph/Montrose Road, where the new interchange is under construction. The closures can occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Central Avenue Construction
Drivers may encounter lane closures during weekday road work on Central Avenue between Cindy Lane in Prince George's County and the District line. The single lane closures may occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while double lanes may be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 9, 2009; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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