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The Weekend and Beyond

Here are some things to worry about, or enjoy, in your travels this weekend and into April.

Cherry Blossom Festival
Two of the year's worst commuting weeks are about to begin for those who must get in and out of central Washington. Yes, the blossoms are lovely, but if you're packed aboard the Blue or Orange lines, all you can see are the backs of the six passengers surrounding you.

If you're driving on 14th Street, or Constitution and Independence avenues, you won't be much better off, given the congestion around the Tidal Basin and the Mall. The big parade downtown is scheduled for 10 a.m. next Saturday, April 4. See the full schedule here.

Metro's equipment will be stressed. Look for plenty of trains to be taken out of service because of door problems. However, Metro will operate more eight-car trains weekdays and weekends, and will open two hours early at 5 a.m., on Sunday, April 5, for the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race.

Drivers, don't stress out over the pedestrians. Note that the Street Smart campaign is underway, during which law enforcement will be working overtime to warn or ticket drivers who don't obey laws giving pedestrians the right of way.

Metrorail Delays
Because the Cherry Blossom Festival is starting, there is no scheduled maintenance this weekend on Metrorail. However, the two derailments near Bethesda on Friday afternoon will slow travel through the weekend on the Red Line, because trains are sharing a single track to get around the area where workers are repairing the tracks.

D.C Street Closures Sunday
These are the street closings for the Sunday morning Scope It Out 5K race, which begins at 9 a.m.:
* Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 13th and 14th streets, from 5 a.m. to approximately 12 p.m.
* Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 13th and 3rd streets, from 8:55 a.m. to approximately 10:45 a.m. (Some intersections may reopen earlier)
* Constitution Avenue NW between 3rd and 1st streets from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
1st Street, between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
* Independence Avenue SW between 2nd and 3rd streets from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
* 2nd Street SW between D Street and Independence Avenue from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
* 3rd Street SW between D Street and Independence Avenue from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
* D Street SW between 2nd and 3rd streets from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

New Circulator Bus Routes
Two new Circulators are scheduled to start this Sunday, March 29. One will connect Union Station, Eastern Market, the Navy Yard and Nationals Park. That's the route of the old N22 Metrobus, which Metro is discontinuing as of Sunday. The other new Circulator will connect Woodley Park Metro station, the Adams Morgan entertainment area, Columbia Heights Metro station, the U Street entertainment area around U and 14th streets and the east side of the McPherson Square Metro station. This link will take you to a map that shows all the Circulator routes, including the two new ones.

16th Street Express
This is a breakthrough for the riders who use the 16th Street NW bus line, one of Metro's busiest: Starting Monday, March 30, a new route, the S9, will operate every 10 minutes during peak periods between Silver Spring Station and McPherson Square. This limited stop service is designed to ease some of the problems riders complained about. They're used to waiting a long time for the S2 and S4, crowded buses that run on an erratic schedule.

So this week, look for the red, white, blue and gray hybrid buses marked "metrobus express" for what should be a faster and more reliable ride.

Md. Intersection Projects
Maryland is making plans to rebuild streets and intersections around Fort Meade and the Bethesda National Naval Medical Center to handle the incoming traffic generated by the base realignment program. The designs will be on display at two forums this week sponsored by the State Highway Administration.

The session on Fort Meade is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at Meade Middle School, 1103 26th St., Fort Meade. The one about the Bethesda plans will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, 4301 East-West Highway, Bethesda.

Upper Marlboro Bridge
This summer, the Route 725 (Main Street) Bridge over the Federal Spring Branch in Upper Marlboro will be closed for reconstruction. The proposed detour would take traffic onto a temporary bridge.

The Maryland State Highway Administration plans to hold an informational session on the project from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at the cafeteria in Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, 12650 Brooke Lane, Upper Marlboro.

Metrocheks Done
The rules for exchanging paper Metrocheks will change on Wednesday, April 1, the transit authority says. Customers will no longer be able to exchange the Metrocheks for bus or rail passes, tokens or SmartBenefits vouchers at the Metro sales offices.

If you still have the old Metrocheks, you can continue to use them as paper fare cards on Metrorail. Or you can switch the entire amount of an unused Metrochek to a SmarTrip card at one of the fare machines. If you did start to use the Metrochek, you've got to get its value down to $7 or less before transfering the remainder to a SmarTrip card. (It's a security precaution against phony fare cards.)

The transit authority stopped issuing Metrocheks in November as it switched over to the SmartBenefits electronic transfer program.

Georgia Avenue Work
Watch for single lane closures on Georgia Avene between Connecticut and Glenallen avenues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday next week.

New Metro Sales Office
The transit authority says the new office at Anacostia Station is off to a good start. During its first full week, it processed 935 transactions and did $3,900 in sales. Metro's first sales office east of the Anacostia River offers regular SmarTrip cards, Senior SmarTrip cards, student fares, and Metrorail and Metrobus passes. The hours are 7:30.a.m. to 5:30.p.m. weekdays and 9.a.m. to 1.p.m. Saturday.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 27, 2009; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  
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"Note that the Street Smart campaign is underway, during which law enforcement will be working overtime to warn or ticket drivers who don't obey laws giving pedestrians the right of way."

Will they also ticket pedestrians who ignore "DON'T WALK" signs, thus failing to obey laws giving drivers the right of way?

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 27, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Yes.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | March 27, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Outstanding. Thanks for the info.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 27, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

If this year's "street smarts" is anything like past years, then pedestrians and cyclists will be ticketed far more than proportional to their numbers -- and far, far, out of proportion to their danger to the public compared to drivers.

Posted by: washpost4 | March 28, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the Street Smarts program is that it's too limited. Everyone knows that once the campaign is over, it's back to normal for everyone: cars don't stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, and pedestrians jay-walk outside marked crosswalks.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | March 28, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

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