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Get There: April 26, 2009 - May 2, 2009

The Weekend and Beyond

Looks like a pretty gloomy weekend for getting about Washington, but here's some advice about weekend travels and some tips about the future. Metrorail Delays Red, Blue and Yellow Line riders are in for it this weekend. Here's the breakdown. Blue and Yellow Line Add at least half an hour this weekend to a normal trip between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street on the Blue Line and Huntington on the Yellow Line. This is for a switch and fastener replacement outside King Street Station. The Yellow Line trains are running between Huntington and Greenbelt. Blue Line trains will operate between Franconia-Springfield and King Street, and between Largo and the Reagan National Airport. Red Line Add 20 minutes to a Red Line trip between New York Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue. This is phase two of a switch replacement project in the Brentwood Yard, north of Union Station. The work...

By Robert Thomson  |  May 1, 2009; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro GM Comments on Swine Flu Precautions

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. just finished up an online discussion on the transit authority's Web site, and he had some things to say in response to riders' questions about using the transit system. Here they are. Catoe: There is a great deal of news coverage on the Swine Flu, and many of you may be wondering whether or not you should ride on transit. Of course, we all have commitments both personal and professional that require us to move around. Most of the time, I choose Metro to do that, and I will continue to do so. When making your decision as to how to travel, consider two things. First, that Metro has put a flu response plan in place. Every flu season we disinfect our trains and buses with a hospital grade disinfectant, and we will continue that during this flu episode. We will also do...

By Robert Thomson  |  May 1, 2009; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro , transit  
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Start Planning Now For Potomac Bridge Congestion

The northbound span, seen from East Potomac Park, needs some serious work. (Thomson) We need to talk more about this 14th Street Bridge project and how you can deal with it. In one sense, it doesn't sound like a high-impact program. How bad can this be? It's still four lanes open at rush. They're not shutting the entire roadway, as the District did during the summer of 2007 when it made over the Douglass Bridge at South Capitol Street. Plus, vacation season is coming on, and traffic should lighten. The best visual representation of why drivers need to focus on this project appears on the District's new Web page for bridge drivers. Look at the overview map, showing the phases of the project and their impact on the lanes. Click through the phases and see what happens to the roadway. Suddenly, it becomes much more difficult to imagine a...

By Robert Thomson  |  May 1, 2009; 7:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving  
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Kitchen Fire Snarls Traffic Near White House

A small kitchen fire at Olives Restaurant snarled traffic near the White House for more than an hour this morning. About 11 a.m. pedestrians saw yellowish smoke coming from the restaurant at the intersection of 16th and K streets NW. D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service responded within minutes and blocked off the intersection within a one-block radius. Fire officials said improper ventilation from the restaurant's rooftop vent caused the smoke to billow out onto the street. No injuries were reported. -- Timothy Wilson...

By Mike McPhate  |  April 30, 2009; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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DC To Begin Lengthy Rehab of 14th Street Bridges

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced this morning that the District will begin almost immediately to rehabilitate the 14th Street Bridges over the Potomac, launching a two-year project that will repair decay but slow travel for many of the 200,000 vehicles that cross them each day. "What else can you do?" Fenty said in assessing the need for the $27 million project and its impact on drivers. Gabe Klein, director of the District Department of Transportation, and city engineers recommended that drivers consider these options: * Carpool. None of the work takes place on the HOV bridge. * Take transit. They recommended VRE or Metrorail. * Adjust work schedules. Rush hours are likely to be more difficult than usual. * Find an alternative route. Officials note that the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, six miles away, is relatively free of congestion, though there is a continuing bottleneck on the outer loop before...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 30, 2009; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Construction , Driving  | Tags: 14th Street Bridge  
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Commuter Alert: Delays on Metro's Orange Line Resolved

Delays on Metro's Orange Line after an earlier train malfunction at the Clarendon station have been resolved....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 30, 2009; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Commuter Alert: Escalator Problem Resolved at Wheaton Metro

Metro has fixed malfunctioning entrance escalators at the Wheaton staion on the Red Line....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 30, 2009; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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MARC Anticipates Some Penn Line Relief Today

On Thursday: MARC says it is planning normal service on the Penn Line, but riders should anticipate delays of 15 to 20 minutes between Baltimore and Odenton. MARC riders are taking a hard hit this week. Today, it was the water main break along the Penn Line, but for those of you who got to work this morning, there may be some relief for late-afternoon trips home. Right now, MARC is operating train service between Union Station and Odenton, but using buses to link Odenton with Penn Station in Baltimore. Here's what the MTA says about the rest of the afternoon: Train 426 out of Union Station at 3:27 p.m. probably will operate only to Odenton, arriving at 3:56 p.m., or so. Then that train will become MARC train 535 from Odenton to Union Station. Amtrak, which operates its own service and MARC on the Penn Line, has advised MARC...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 29, 2009; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , transit  
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Commuter Alert: Amtrak, MARC Train Penn Line Service Disrupted Between D.C. and Baltimore

Amtrak has halted all train service between Baltimore and Washington, including MARC Penn Line trains, due to a major water main break in Maryland. Baltimore Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher says a 36-inch water main broke in the Halethorpe area, north of the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport station. Amtrak crews are clearing the site of debris, but trains likely won't run until 3 p.m. Amtrak said riders between Washington and Philadelphia will likely experience problems all day Wednesday. The Maryland Transit Administration is running shuttle buses for MARC riders between Penn Station in Baltimore and Odenton. Howard County, which gets about 25 percent of its water from the main, is asking residents to cut water use. Six schools near the main closed early. --Associated Press...

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 29, 2009; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Metro Board to Review Rider Pleas

The Metro board members on Thursday morning are going to listen to the staff recap what was said during public hearings on the proposed cuts in bus service, the cuts designed to bring the transit authority budget into balance for the next year. People didn't go to these hearings to say, "Hey, I don't need my bus," just as they don't go to a highway hearing to say, "Hey, take my front lawn." So nobody was looking for surprises. Metro officials and some regional leaders, particularly those from Maryland, where most of the cuts would occur, expected to take a pounding. And they did. The turnout wasn't overwhelming. In fact, politicians surveying the scene might have concluded that they had pulled this one off. But the testimony did reveal support for use of federal stimulus money, or other one-shot revenue injects, to avoid the budget cuts. That wasn't a shocker;...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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New Lane Lights Installed in Downtown Tunnels

One mystery solved, regarding this question that came in during my online discussion on Monday. 3rd Street Tunnel: This morning driving northbound I noticed new green/red lights in the tunnel. They appeared to be lights for each lane, though I'm not sure there was a one-to-one match. Any idea what they're for? Answer: John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, says crews have been putting lane control signals in three tunnels: the 3rd Street Tunnel and the Air Rights Tunnel under Massachusetts Avenue on I-395 and the 9th Street Tunnel under the Mall. It's one of those overhead setups where a light in each lane can be changed from green to red to show a lane ahead is closed, most likely for an accident or maintenance, Lisle said. The lights can be operated from a tunnel control room. The safety lights, installed to comply with national standards, are...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 29, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Driving  
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Metro Takes Some Precautions Against Swine Flu

We still have no cases of swine flu in this region, but many transit users are asking what Metro is doing, or what they should do. It came up several times during my online discussion on Monday. So Metro today put out an advisory addressing those concerns. "Riding Metro is safe and it's something I do daily," Metro GM John B. Catoe Jr. said in the advisory. "However, Metro is taking precautions to keep riders and employees safe, and I'm being extra careful too before and after boarding a bus or train." What You Can Do The advice from transit officials is pretty basic hygiene and includes practices that would apply any day to any rider: Wash hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Carry tissues, hand-sanitizing gels or disinfecting...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 28, 2009; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Traffic Alert: Major Delays on New York Ave. NW

Update, 5:38 p.m.: Two dozen children and six adults were taken to hospitals for evaluation after the crash. Update, 4:25 p.m.: The accident has been cleared. Major eastbound delays continue on New York Ave. NW and traffic is very slow coming out of the 3rd St. tunnel. Original post, 2:32 p.m.: New York Ave. NW is blocked in both directions between North Capitol Street and M St. NW after an accident involving multiple vehicles. The intersection of 1st St. NW and N St. NW is also closed. Traffic is backed up for several blocks from the crash site. Motorists are being detoured on to M St. NW. Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content. var so = new SWFObject('http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/interactives/mashupTool/mashupTool.swf', 'mashupTool', '454', '474', '9', '#ffffff'); so.addParam('wmode','transparent'); so.addVariable('mapReference', 'l'); so.addVariable('mapColWidth', '454'); so.addVariable('mapSpacerGap', '5'); so.addVariable('mapHasNeatline', 'true'); so.addVariable('linkLocatorDetail', 'true'); so.addVariable('orientation', 'column'); so.addVariable('map1depth', '222'); so.addVariable('map1width', '454'); so.addVariable('map1centerLat', '38.906217'); so.addVariable('map1centerLong', '-77.012167'); so.addVariable('map1zoom',...

By Mike McPhate  |  April 28, 2009; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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Metro Sets Weekend Work Schedule For May

Switch fix, like this at Mount Vernon Square, can take several weekends. (Thomson) Plan your delays now. Actually, this is a good idea that the transit authority launched a few months back. At the end of each month, it publicizes the weekend work schedule for the coming month. On May weekends, the work will be dominated by rail switch replacements on the Red, Blue and Yellow lines. On the Orange, Metro also will replace rail and cross ties and do bridge repair work. During Memorial Day weekend, which is May 23-25, the transit authority doesn't plan to do any major track work that will cause delays. You can read the full monthly schedule here. But this is the program for the weekend coming up: Blue and Yellow Line Add at least half an hour this weekend to a normal trip between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street on the...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 28, 2009; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  
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Commuter Puzzle: What Should I Tell Her?

Travelers provided some good advice during Monday's online discussion about issues such as the best route to Merriweather Post Pavilion. So when I got this inquiry from a reader, I thought I'd once again consult the group with local knowledge. She wrote: "If you had to live in Howard County and commute to downtown DC (17th and Pennsylvania), where would you live within the county and how would you get downtown (driving, MARC, etc)? Is Laurel the best commuting-wise? I know 95 and 295 can both be bad during rush hour." So we're not talking best homes, best schools, best environment. This is strictly a commuting question. And no fair telling her she should live closer to work. She says she has to live in Howard County....

By Robert Thomson  |  April 28, 2009; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Commuting  
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MARC Train Service Returns to Normal on Penn Line

MARC Train service has now returned to normal on the Penn line after an Amtrak emergency was cleared....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 28, 2009; 8:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Fort Hunt Rd. in Alexandria Partially Reopens After Water Main Break

Northbound Fort Hunt Rd. in Alexandria is now getting by a water main break at the corner of Belle Haven Rd. Southbound traffic is being turned around at the scene....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 28, 2009; 6:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Join Me for Online Discussion

We start the regular Monday online chat at noon. Pitch in with your questions or comments about any of our local transportation issues, whether it's the problem of today or the solution of tomorrow. Use this link if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance. Last Monday, we ranged quite a bit among traffic and transit topics. As is often the case, some travelers wanted to talk about what government is doing wrong and some wanted to talk about what other travelers are doing wrong....

By Robert Thomson  |  April 27, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Commuter Alert: 23rd Street Closed Between Constitution Ave. and C St.

A stretch of 23rd St. between Constitution Ave. and C St. in N.W. is closed because of a Greenpeace protest, according to WTOP. Protesters have occupied a large construction crane in the area and have unfurled a banner to call attention to global warming....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 27, 2009; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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The Week Ahead For Washington Travelers

As your local travels start this week, watch for these events. Benning Road Paving Today It's slow going -- slower than usual -- on Benning Road NE today in the westbound direction between 21st Street and Oklahoma Avenue. The District is paving the curb lane from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Westbound traffic will be restricted to one lane. Don't use the road if you can possibly avoid it. The three bus stops in that zone will be in operation except when the paving operation is right at the bus stop. Red Line Repairs That slowdown on the Red Line just south of Takoma should be gone now, following weekend work to repair a drainage problem that had softened the ground beneath the tracks in that area. Caps Play Tuesday Those pesky Capitals have come back to create a transportation issue for Tuesday night. They'll be playing game 7 against...

By Robert Thomson  |  April 27, 2009; 8:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting  
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Commuter Alert: Delays in Both Directions on I-495 at Ritchie Marlboro Pkwy

Delays in both directions on I-495 at Ritchie Marlboro Road in Upper Marlboro because of a wreck on northbound I-495. Accident activity is now on the left shoulder in both directions....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 27, 2009; 7:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Commuter Alert: Delays on Southbound I-295 at Blue Plains

There are delays on southbound I-295 at Blue Plains because of an accident. Northbound lanes are slow....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 27, 2009; 6:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Commuter Alert: Back up on Southbound I-270 at Route 85

Southbound I-270 in Frederick is facing significant delays at Route 85 because of an accident. The wreck has been moved to the side of the road....

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 27, 2009; 6:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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