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Get There: February 15, 2009 - February 21, 2009

Commuter Alert: Two DC Intersections Still Without Power

The power problem that knocked out many traffic signals during the morning rush has been repaired in all but two cases. The two intersections where the signals remain dark are: * New Jersey Avenue and Q Street and * New Jersey Avenue and R Street Watch for traffic control officers and portable stop signs at those two intersections. If you don't see any such thing, treat the intersection as a four way stop....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 20, 2009; 4:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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No Drama in Transportation Stimulus, Leaders Say

The leaders of the region's main transportation agencies said this morning that they are eagerly planning what to do with the federal stimulus money, but that we shouldn't expect the money to result in a makeover of our road and rail network. Most plan to focus their stimulus checks on preserving what we've got rather than building new projects. Metro and the transportation departments of Virginia, Maryland and the District all have big backlogs of maintenance projects. They also want to conform with the spirit, as well as the letter, of the stimulus law. Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, several of the leaders refered to the stimulus as a "jobs bill," the idea being to use the money in a way that creates jobs relatively quickly while still doing some lasting good for the transportation network. Virginia, for example, has not released a...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 20, 2009; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction , Transportation Politics  
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Telegraph Road Closings Next Week

Concrete pouring for a Telegraph Road interchange ramp that is part of the Wilson Bridge Project will close part of the road on three nights next week. On Tuesday night, Feb. 24, and Wednesday night, Feb. 25, Telegraph Road will be closed between North Kings Highway and East Drive from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Detours Northbound Telegraph Road: Take a left at Franconia, right at Van Dorn, then the Beltway outer loop back to Telegraph Road. Southbound Telegraph Road: Left at North Kings Highway, then right on South Kings Highway and back to Telegraph Road. On Friday night, Feb. 27, from 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Telegraph Road is scheduled to close between Huntington Avenue and North Kings Highway for more concrete pouring. Detours Northbound Telegraph Road: Right at North Kings Highway, left at Route 1, left at Huntington Avenue and back to Telegraph Road. Southbound Telegraph Road: Left...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 20, 2009; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Wilson Bridge  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Some advice about your weekend travels and upcoming transportation issues. District's Bigger Boot John Townsend, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic, thinks the District has gone too far with its new policy of booting vehicles that have unpaid fines for blowing past enforcement cameras. The District Department of Public Works announced Tuesday that it will begin booting vehicles with multiple outstanding photo enforcement tickets. Photo violations include red-light running, speeding and parking on streets during sweeping hours. By the end of January, the department said, 12,834 vehicles had accumulated 15,700 photo enforcement tickets that total nearly $1.9 million in unpaid fines. Townsend said he doesn't like the way the department is springing this new policy on drivers and, noting that it includes street parkers, wonders if it's no more than a revenue-raising initiative, rather than a public safety matter. Metro Delays This Weekend Red Line riders between Silver...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 20, 2009; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Commuter Alert: Orange, Green, Yellow Line Delays

Update, 8:22 p.m.: The disruptions at Mt. Vernon Square and East Falls Church are both expected to continue as late as 9 p.m., Metro officials said. Update, 6:37 p.m.: Riders should expect delays in both directions on the Green and Yellow lines due to a mechanical problem outside of Mt. Vernon Square/7th St-Convention Center. Trains are single-tracking between Mt. Vernon Square and U Street-Cardozo stations. Original post, 6:18 p.m.: Metro is still single-tracking between East Falls Church and West Falls Church as personnel try to get a disabled maintenance truck off the tracks and into a rail yard. Orange Line riders should expect continued delays, especially those traveling toward Vienna, spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. See earlier story on the Orange Line's troubles today....

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 19, 2009; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting  
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Plugging Metro's Budget Gap: Reader Ideas

Following today's announcement of proposed service cuts for Metro -- which would include increasing gaps between trains toward the start and end of rush hour, eliminating duplicate bus service and closing some station entrances on the weekends -- Get There blog readers posted their suggestions for closing the budget gap. Have some of your own? Post them in the comments. Instead of just closing station entrances and mezzanines, what about just making these entrances unstaffed? That way, the public still has access but they save having a station manager on duty at every entrance. Many NYC subway entrances are unstaffed and it seems to work fine (though they do have faregates that are harder to jump). -- nashpaul How much does Metro spend each year on escalator repair? My suggestion is to not run the short escalators, such as the ones between the mezzanine and the platforms. They are broken...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  February 19, 2009; 5:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Metro  
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Commuter Alert: Orange Line Delays Continue

This is going to be a bad day for Orange Line riders. The vacuum truck that derailed this morning and caused major delays has derailed again. That means riders between Ballston and West Falls Church can expect delays this afternoon, officials said. The second derailment occurred at 1:56 p.m., just 10 minutes after the morning situation had cleared, spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. Trains will be sharing a sincle track between East Falls Church and West Falls Church until personnel can get the truck back on the tracks. The derailment this morning caused major delays on the Orange Line and trains had to share a single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom. That ended at 1:46 p.m., he said. The vacuum truck, which had been used for routine track maintenance work downtown and was headed back to the West Falls Church rail yard, derailed at 4:30 a.m. whyen its wheels popped...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 2:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Maryland Studying Route 5 Improvements

Southern Maryland commuters take note: The State Highway Administration plans to hold a meeting Tuesday evening, Feb. 24, to discuss its proposals for easing congestion and improving safety along heavily traveled Route 5, between Route 301 and the Capital Beltway. Of particular concern is rush hour congestion at the signalized intersections toward the south side of the corridor. See details here about some of the options under consideration in the study. The alternatives include some spot improvements to better manage traffic flow on the existing roadways, upgrading Route 5 to expressway standards, or creating express toll lanes or High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. The Tuesday meeting is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. at Surrattsville High School's cafeteria, 6101 Garden Drive, Clinton....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 1:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Construction , Driving  
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Weekend Track Work to Cause Delays

This is an alert for Blue and Red Line riders: If your riding Metrorail at certain times this weekend, plan on adding 20 minutes to the normal length of your trips because of track maintenance work. Blue Line The work zone is between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road, where crews will be replacing a floating slab from 10 p.m. Friday to the 3 a.m. closing on Saturday. Red Line The work zone is between Silver Spring and Forest Glen, where crews will be replacing rail fasteners, used to stabilize the tracks, from 8 p.m. Friday to the midnight closing on Sunday. ....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 1:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Metro Board Wants More Options

When you look at the list of potential service cuts that the Metro staff unveiled this morning, think of what you're not seeing: There's no proposal to shut down the rail system early end bus service along a particular corridor -- none of the very drastic possibilities that have been the subject of speculation. Instead, the staff presented ideas for widespread, but relatively low-impact reductions, at least compared with some of the speculation. If you're a transit user, that's no reason to let your guard down. When you look at the full list, you may see it as death by a thousand cuts, and some of the individual cuts are still pretty painful. Metro board members, assembled for a work session on the budget problem this morning, asked the transit authority staff to come back with more for them to work with, after a first look at the service cut...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 11:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Metro  
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Share Thoughts on Possible Metro Service Cuts

Earlier today, Dr. Gridlock shared preliminary details of potential Metro service cuts ahead of a Thursday work session aimed at dealing with a projected budget shortfall. What do you think of the proposals? Any of them sound reasonable? Got another idea? Or are they all bad ideas? Take the poll below, and share your thoughts in the comments. poll by twiigs.com...

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 19, 2009; 11:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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First Look at Possible Metro Service Cuts

The Metro board this morning is holding a work session on how to climb out of a steep hole it expects to confront in the fiscal year that starts in July. (Share your thoughts.) The Metro staff has offered the board a menu of options to consider: Eliminate duplicate bus services, widen the gaps between train and bus arrivals and close some station mezzanines on weekends or week nights. There's plenty of time left to consider options for the budget, which takes effect in July. The potential savings: Reducing duplicate service could save $10 million, widening gaps between arrivals could save $10.8 million, closing mezzanines could save $0.7 million. That's a total of $21.4 million. But even if Metro did all those things -- and there's absolutely no indication at this point that it will do any of them -- and did some things that would increase revenue, at least...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Metro  
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Delays on Orange, Blue Lines

Original post, 8:19 a.m.: Delays of 40 minutes or more are likely to last through the morning. See Debbi Wilgoren's story about equipment train derailment at Court House Station. No one was hurt in the derailment, which occurred before Metrorail opened this morning. But trains are sharing a single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom, which means that the Blue Line, as well as the Orange Line is affected. Big delays and crowding in both directions. Riders in Northern Virginia could consider the 38B Metrobus as an alternative, though it's likely to be crowded too. The 38B starts in Ballston, crosses the Key Bridge and heads along M Street and K Street to reach Farragut Square....

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 8:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Montgomery Plans Bus Service Cuts

Montgomery County's Ride On bus service will cut some routes and curtail others starting April 5 under a plan developed as part of the county government's $50 million reduction in spending for this fiscal year. The county says the reductions affect the routes with the lowest ridership. While they are extensive, they're not the end. County Executive Isiah Leggett asked Ride On to come up with a plan for further cuts in fiscal year 2010, which starts in July. Ride On is going to hold a forum about this on March 24. To see the full list of cuts that take effect on April 5 and the proposed cuts for fiscal 2010, use this link. But here's a sample of the April 5 cuts, so you get the idea: Route 4: Eliminate weekday midday service between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Route 18: Reduce weekday midday service frequency from 15...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2009; 6:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  
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I-66 Spot Improvements Blocked

A vote by the region's Transportation Planning Board this afternoon removed the spot improvements along Virginia's Interstate 66 inside the Beltway from consideration for federal funds, blocking one of the region's largest and most contentious programs to expand highway capacity. The rejection by the planning board came on a rare weighted vote, which basically pitted the populous inner jurisdictions in the Washington region against the less-heavily populated outer suburbs. The motion to reject was made by Chris Zimmerman, a member of the Arlington County Board and the Metro Board, as well as the regional planning body. Arlington County residents have led the opposition to the expansion of the Interstate's capacity. Zimmerman's resolution demanded that the I-66 project proceed no further until Virginia completed a thorough review of all ways to improve transportation within the highway corridor. Jo Anne Sorenson, representing the Virginia Department of Transportation on the board, said that...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 18, 2009; 2:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Metro Has $230 Million Plan For Stimulus Money

The transit authority wants to use the money for short-term projects that include replacing old buses, fixing part of the Red Line and upgrading the fare vending machines to handle more SmarTrip transactions. Metro won unanimous approval for the spending this afternoon from the region's Transportation Planning Board. The panel's approval will be crucial for all of the transit or road projects that the Washington area's governments submit for federal funding under the stimulus measure signed Tuesday by President Obama. Among the Metro spending plans described as "shovel ready" by Metro Chief Administrative Officer Emeka Moneme: -- Replace about 50 of the oldest buses in the Metro fleet. -- Replace several rail platforms that are in bad shape. -- Fix the oldest stretch of track in the system, between Rhode Island Avenue and Judiciary Square. -- Upgrade the system of electronic screens in stations and on platforms that provide information...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 18, 2009; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Metro  
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What's Up With Construction on Beltway in Virginia

The debate over infrastructure in the federal stimulus plan this winter might leave some thinking that we've stopped building anything. But that thought wouldn't occur to commuters who use the western arc of the Beltway in Virginia. Already, the HOT (high occupancy or toll) lanes project has cleared large swaths of territory on either side of the highway. The Virginia Department of Transportation provides periodic updates. Here's what's going on this week, according to VDOT. Braddock Road sidewalk demolition continues on the eastbound bridge. It's going to be a big detour for walkers. See it on this map. VDOT notes that pedestrians can also use Metrobus 17A, 17G and 17M across the Braddock Road bridge. The right lane of Braddock Road will be closed in both directions during daytime hours this week. The start of the westbound bridge demolition is now scheduled for next Monday, when traffic will be shifted...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 17, 2009; 10:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction  
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Detours at Gainesville Interchange

Virginia Department of Transportation widens I-66 above Route 29. (VDOT photo) Workers this week are removing the bridge beams on Route 29 as part of the widening project on Interstate 66. Northbound Route 29 under I-66 is closed from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday. Access to I-66 East will remain open. Southbound Route 29 is closed between Heathcote Boulevard and Wellington Branch Road from 5:30 a.m. today through 5 p.m. Friday. (Note that's a continual closure.) Northbound Detours Route 29 North through traffic: Take I-66 East to exit 47 to Route 234 Business. Turn left at the light to northbound Route 234 Business. Turn right at the third light to Route 29. Route 29 North to I-66 West: Follow the same detour to northbound Route 234 Business. Turn left at the first light to enter I-66 West. Southbound Detours Route 29 South through traffic: Turn left...

By Robert Thomson  |  February 17, 2009; 8:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction  
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Confess Your Commuter Sins

Washington Post reporter Eric Weiss writes today about motorists who can't help but break the HOV rules, with some amassing as many as 10 violations. It seems the area's infuriating traffic can drive even good people to behave badly. Do you ever break the rules? Sometimes the best way to ease your guilt is to unburden yourself. Well, here's your confession booth. Do you ever behave poorly during your commute? Do you drink coffee on the Metro or fail to give up your seat to the elderly? Do you tailgate or speed? Confess your sins in the comments below....

By Mike McPhate  |  February 15, 2009; 12:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Commuting  
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