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Get There: February 8, 2009 - February 14, 2009

The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some suggestions for your President's Day weekend planning and advice about upcoming transportation issues. Use this link to see The Post's status report on traffic, transit and parking for the holiday Metrorail Disruption The transit authority will use the long weekend to replace a switch at Pentagon Station. The station will be shut completely from 10 o'clock tonight through midnight Monday, when the rail system closes. No trains will go through. This will have a big impact on people riding the Blue and Yellow lines between the District and Virginia, because they will have to get off the trains and board shuttle buses to get around the closed station. See more details in this statement from Metro, and in this earlier posting on Get There. Note that Metro's Trip Planner, normally a very useful tool for plotting out a transit trip, doesn't account for disruptions like this. VRE...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 13, 2009; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro Board Agonizing Over Cuts

A half dozen transit advocates met reporters outside of Metro's headquarters this morning to protest cuts in Metro service. Ben Ross of the Action Committee on Transit, one of the groups represented, called such cuts "totally unacceptable." He said people need to get in touch with their local leaders and urge them to make sure Metro has the money it needs to balance its budget. Inside, the building, Metro board members sounded equally upset about the prospect of cranking back on train and bus service. "None of us wants to make any service changes," said Peter Benjamin, who represents Maryland and is head of the board's finance committee. So the board spent a couple of agonizing hours with the staff going over whether the staff's budget numbers are right. Since any budget is somebody's best guess about what's going to happen a year from now, there was plenty of room...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2009; 4:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Metro  
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DC Expanding Circulator Bus

The District and Metro are taking several steps that will increase the Circulator bus service. Metro's finance committee approved a plan to end regular Metrobus service on Route 98, which links the Adams Morgan and U Street entertainment areas in Washington as of March 29. The District's plan is to expand service between Adams Morgan and U Street by adding a route for the red, silver and black Circulators, which operate on three other circuits in the central city. [Karyn LeBlanc, spokeswoman for the District Department of Transportation, says this is not a replacement for the 98 route in that the Circulator will not follow the same route between the two neighborhoods, which are also served by other Metrobus lines.] The finance committee also approved and forwarded to the full board a plan to buy four more of the buses on behalf of the District. An additional 14 buses are...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2009; 12:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Metro  
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Metro Planning New Express Bus

Metrobus is planning to add a rush-hour express service along 16th Street NW to speed up the commute and ease congestion along the third busiest line in the bus system. The new route, called the S9, will run between Silver Spring and downtown Washington. This concept is similar to the Metro Extra service on Georgia Avenue, a limited-stop bus run that has proved popular. The 16th Street version could begin by the end of March if it gets approval from the full Metro board later this month. It passed a board committee this morning. The 16th Street bus line, which consists of the S1, S2 and S4, carries 16,000 riders a day and has all the chronic problems of long-distance bus routes that must pass through heavy traffic congestion. Riders complain that the buses are often late and when they do come, they come three at once. The new service...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 12, 2009; 11:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Metro  
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Delaware Considering I-95 Toll Plaza Improvement

State governments nationwide are developing lists of transportation projects that could qualify for the rapid spending required under the federal stimulus package, and there's one on Delaware's list that would win the support of many travelers in the Washington area. Among the state's priorities is a plan to reconfigure the Newark Toll Plaza to add two highway-speed E-ZPass lanes on the northbound and southbound sides, at a cost of about $43 million. This would ease an infamous slowdown for many long-distance drivers on Interstate 95. You tell me about this one quite often, but especially around holiday and vacation times, and it always comes up as the crucial place to avoid when we talk about alternative getaway routes. "Up to 250,000 people a day drive that stretch of I-95," Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement today that highlighted the proposed E-ZPass lanes. "That means we've got a quarter...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 11, 2009; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Driving , Getaway , Transportation Politics  
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New Traffic Pattern Coming at Braddock Road/Beltway

VDOT map shows temporary lanes and exits planned for interchange. Drivers will see a new traffic pattern next week at the Braddock Road/Capital Beltway interchange, as Virginia continues the construction that will create the high occupancy or toll (HOT) lanes. The work is scheduled to start a week from today. The westbound Braddock Road bridge over the Beltway will be demolished and traffic will be shifted to what has been the eastbound bridge, which will have two lanes in each direction. To make room for that additional lane, the Virginia Department of Transportation says, the sidewalk will be demolished. Pedestrians will be directed to the Wakefield Park Bridge over the Beltway. Here's a map of the detour. The ramps from the Beltway will be reconfigured, and temporary traffic signals will control the flow of traffic from the inner loop onto westbound Braddock Road and from the outer loop to...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 11, 2009; 8:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction , Driving  
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Transportation Addition and Subtraction

Our two biggest running stories in local transportation are the potential impact of adding millions of dollars in spending through the federal stimulus plan and of subtracting Metro rail and bus services because of the transit authority's budget problems. As you read about and listen to discussions on these stories, put the emphasis on the "running" part. At this point, we don't know how either story will turn out. Metro We do know the transit authority is in one of its worst financial pickels in years. Since John B. Catoe Jr. took over as general manager in 2007, he's cut staff and raised fares to balance the budget. Because the last fare increase was so big, Metro's leaders are reluctant to approve a new one anytime soon. So Catoe is once again cutting staff. As Post transit reporter Lena H. Sun has reported, Catoe plans to cut $81 million by...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 10, 2009; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Work Continues on Bridge Over Southwest Freeway

There will be temporary lane closures through this week on Interstate 395 in the District. The city is working on the 9th Street SW Bridge over the freeway, near L'Enfant Plaza. The District Department of Transportation says this requires closing a single lane on I-395 under the 9th Street Bridge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday. The lane closure will be on either the north or south side depending on the needs of the contractor. Additional lane closures will occur from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night on either side, DDOT says. Expect congestion through that area. Watch for the variable message signs, with directions around the lane closures. The bridge rehabilitation is a year long project that started last November....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 10, 2009; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction  
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Metro to Close Pentagon Station This Weekend

Metro's plan for track work on the Blue and Yellow lines at Pentagon Station over the President's Day weekend is quite complicated and will affect many travelers, so let's go over the details now. First, the station will be completely closed for the long weekend, from 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Monday, Feb. 16. No trains will go through. The workers will be on the tracks, replacing a switch that under normal circumstances allows trains to cross from one side to the other. At the same time, workers will do maintenance work on the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac, since trains won't be running across it while the switch replacement is underway. The Disruption The Blue Line will operate between the Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon City, and also between Largo and Arlington Cemetery. The Yellow Line will operate only between Huntington and Pentagon City. Train Schedule Blue and Yellow line...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 10, 2009; 8:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Construction , Metro  
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Traffic-Transit Discussion Today

Please join me at 1 p.m. today for an online discussion of our local transportation issues. We can talk about prospects for the stimulus package, what services Metro might cut as it tries to balance its budget -- or how to make a left turn in heavy traffic. It's all on the table today. Here's a link to the discussion. If you'd like to submit a question or comment ahead of time, here's a link to use....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 9, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting  
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Commuting Etiquette: Me First, or Just Practical?

When we talk transportation etiquette, it's usually to say that people on Metro escalators should stand right and walk left, or that slower drivers should stay out of the left lanes. This letter is a bit different: How to exit a bus. Dear Dr Gridlock: I wanted to share my experience from riding the bus in Sweden, where I was born and raised. When you take the bus -- for example, in Stockholm -- you enter through the front door, as in Washington. But you always exit the bus from the back door. I was surprised when I started to take the bus in Washington, when you first have to wait while people are getting off, before you can get on. By getting off at the back door a flow is created through the bus, people can exit at the same time as others enter and a lot of time...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 9, 2009; 9:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  transit  
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