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Get There: June 28, 2009 - July 4, 2009

Metro system quieting down

Riders are continuing to fill up cars across the Metro system, but the post-fireworks traffic surge has passed. At the Federal Triangle station on the Blue and Orange lines, riders tell Staff Writer Yamiche Alcindor that they have waited more than 45 minutes to catch a train. But at the Smithsonian station, there were no longer lines to get on trains after 11:30 p.m. Red Line trains passing through Metro Center are still full, but crowds are thinning....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 11:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Smoke shut down one side of the Green Line for 40 minutes (Update)

UPDATE (11:31 p.m.): A Metro transit worker at the scene of the smoke incident tells The Post's Emma Brown that trash falling through the grate and onto the fluorescent lights likely caused the smoke that closed half the Green Line between 10:20 and 11 p.m. UPDATE (11:17): Metro spokesperson Angela Gates said there was smoke emitting from a light fixture on the track at Gallery Place-Chinatown on the side where trains travel toward Greenbelt. The incident happened at 10:20 p.m. Metro officials at the scene turned off the power on that track. When they decided it was safe to operate trains through there, they resumed service at 11 p.m. During that period, they ran trains on the Green Line on the opposite track. Trains are now running in both directions. This is causing some lingering delays. "That was the only real hiccup we've had tonight," Gates said by phone. She...

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 10:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Line at Federal Triangle goes outside and around the corner

Staff Writer Yamiche Alcindor says that the crowd at the Federal Triangle stop on the Blue-Orange lines is at least a quarter-mile long. "it's expected," said Carson Johanson, 22, of Herndon, Va., waiting in a line a block long at the Federal Triangle station. She said last year that the lines were worse and the trains so packed she crouched to the ground to avoid being pushed into others....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 10:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Line extends from Smithsonian station all the way to the Castle

Three separate lines are flowing outside of the Smithsonian station. Police say there have been no incidents at that location on the Blue-Orange Line, but (despite warnings and the size of the crowd) some riders are surprised. Jan Gurtner, 62 of Oakton, Va., thought opening the Smithsonian station up at the end of the night would clear people out fast. But it wasn't nearly as quick as she hoped. "I thought this would be a breeze," she told the Post's Greg Gaudio, from her vantage point as the last person in a line that extends all the way to the Smithsonian Castle....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 10:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Metro releases ridership stats for today

447,576 trips have been taken on the Metro system today, as of 9 p.m., according to Metro stats posted on their web site. Here is Metro's release....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 10:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Large crowds moving through Metro Center

Staff Writer Emma Brown reports that it seems lighter at Metro Center to some regular riders than in the last few years. Red Line trains are moving toward Glenmont about every 12 minutes. Trains to Shady Grove are arriving more frequently. A crowd has formed on both platforms. Just before 10 p.m., a crowd cheered on the platform when an almost empty train pulled into the station....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 10:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Congestion on the Beltway

Virginia Department of Transportation advises that drivers on I-395 North can expect backups as long as five miles. This sort of post-fireworks traffic is expected, and no significant accidents have been reported....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 9:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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So far, so good: Waiting to see how the Metro system handles the surge

Fireworks on the Mall ended just before 9:30 p.m. Four Post reporters are monitoring traffic at Metro stations. So far, all report that the crowds are large and lines are building. But at Metro Center on the Red Line and Smithsonian on the Blue-Orange Line, everything seems (so far) about as busy as expected. No word of any incidents that should cause delays beyond what Metro officials have already warned us all about....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 9:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Train malfunction at Eastern Market resolved (Update)

UPDATE (6:17 p.m.): Metro says the disruption at Eastern Market is fully resolved. Staff Writer Greg Gaudio reports from the Smithsonian Metro stop that the station is only open for those who are exiting right now, and that traffic flow is heavy but moving quickly and orderly. ORIGINAL POST: Metro says a train malfunctioned at the Eastern Market station on the Blue-Orange Line, but apparently the problem has been resolved. A system alert says this will still lead to likely delays on the line taking riders toward the Smithsonian stop, four away from Eastern Market....

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Metro is moving smoothly...for now

Around the Metro system over the past two hours, riders have said they were pleasantly surprised with how well the system -- including the Red Line -- is moving, even as it is crowding up in advance of the afternoon rush. This blogger checked out typical choke points and bottlenecks from between noon and 2 p.m. Crowds were moving pretty smoothly, and trains were coming at regular intervals in both directions. (We checked Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center and Farragut North). The Green Line, filled with fans heading toward the Navy Yard station and the now in-progress Nationals game, was not much more crowded than might be expected for a game on an ordinary Saturday. At the Smithsonian station on the Blue Line, there was no one waiting to leave around 1 p.m. But lots of people were getting off the train. Still, the large crowds seemed civil. That stop has...

By James Hohmann  |  July 4, 2009; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags: Metro, Red Line  
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Some Things About Getting Around on July 4 (Reposted)

Since a lot of posts appeared on this blog since Bob Thomson first posted tips for July 4th, we're reposting Dr. Gridlock's July 4th suggestions below. ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS: * Update: D.C. Announces July 4 Closures * * Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway * Here are some tips for those of you who decided to celebrate Independence Day locally. Metrorail Trains will operate from 7 a.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday. The service will come close to peak-period levels from 4 p.m. to midnight, when most people head out in search of fireworks, then return home. Trains will run on their usual routes on all five rail lines. For the first time in many years, the Smithsonian Station will be open. But it will be designated as exit-only from 6 p.m. until the start of the fireworks, shortly after 9 p.m., and entry-only from about 9:30 p.m. to...

By Mark Berman  |  July 3, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  holiday travel  
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D.C., Arlington July 4 Street Closures

Since a lot of posts have appeared since Bob Thomson first posted these closures, we wanted to repost them to make sure everybody knew the closures impacting the area tomorrow. ORIGINAL POST BELOW * Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway * * Getting Around Locally on July 4 * Law enforcement officials have announced road closures around the Mall for the July 4 festivities. The following streets will be closed between roughly 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.: 4th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW 7th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to Maine Avenue, SW 17th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to E Street, NW 18th Street from Constitution Avenue and Virginia Avenue 19th Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 20th Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 21st Street, NW from C Street...

By Mark Berman  |  July 3, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving , Events  
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Operation Fast Forward Set For Tomorrow After Fireworks

Tomorrow, the District Department of Transportation -- along with regional transportation and public safety partners -- will have the fifth year of Operation Fast Forward, which allows participating agencies to test their emergency evacuation plans while they are expediting and managing the flow of traffic after the fireworks. When the fireworks end, the District Department of Transportation will extend traffic signal cycle lengths on five of the city's 19 marked evacuation routes to 240 seconds, with the goal being to substantially clear traffic in the downtown are in 60 to 75 minutes. As with previous years, they will also collect vehicular and pedestrian traffic data at select intersections. They will also evaluate Operation Fast Forward to ensure traffic signal timing patterns, traffic control measures and communications protocols are effective should an actual emergency impact the District. The Operation Fast Forward test emergency routes are: Georgia Ave (from 7th and F...

By Mark Berman  |  July 3, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Events , Safety  
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Advisory: Takoma station on Red Line to close tonight and Sunday

Metro announced this morning that the Takoma station on the Red Line will close early again (at 10 p.m.) tonight and on Sunday so that the NTSB can continue its investigation into the fatal June 22 crash. To minimize the long delays already expected for July Fourth, Metro said the Takoma station will not close on the night of July Fourth. But officials warn that riders should plan on waiting as long as an hour and a half to get into a metro station after fireworks on the National Mall end tomorrow night. See the full release from Metro here....

By James Hohmann  |  July 3, 2009; 10:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro , holiday travel  | Tags: Red Line  
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Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway (Reposted)

Since a lot of posts have appeared on this blog since Bob Thomson posted these tips yesterday -- and since a lot of you planning on heading out of town might be leaving tomorrow -- we're reposting Dr. Gridlock's travel tips below. ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS: * D.C. Announces July 4 Closures * * Getting Around Locally on July 4 * Planning to drive ahead of or behind the holiday rush is always worthwhile. (Thomson) Escaping the Washington area for the July 4 holiday should be nothing like the anxiety-provoking experience of leaving town for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's summer now, and many people who want to get away already have gone. Still, there are some things to consider in making plans. The transportation departments suspend almost all construction work around the holidays, so orange cones should not be a problem along your trips. You should have no problems with the...

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 7:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway  
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Problem on Blue Line resolved, but delays continue

Metro says a train malfunction outside of Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line has been resolved, but officials warn that riders should expect lingering delays in both directions....

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Virginia Roads Update: Rush hour congestion intensifying on Beltway

The Beltway is getting congested at the height of rush hour as commuters get home and others head out of town for the long weekend. Updates from around Northern Virginia... -- An accident in the city of Alexandria has closed the south right shoulder of I-395. Traffic is backed up about two miles. -- Congestion is causing even heavier backups heading northbound on I-395. VDOT advises that congestion is behind a four-mile traffic backup in Fairfax. There's a two-mile backup at the 14th St. bridge from congestion. -- I-495 in Fairfax County, both north- and southbound, is backed up between six to eight miles because of heavy traffic. --I-66 delays continue from earlier. For updates on road conditions, see Virginia's DOT web page....

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 4:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Pennsylvania Ave. reopened in both directions (Update)

UPDATED POST (4:47 p.m.): Pennsylvania Avenue has now reopened in both directions. District Department of Transportation filled and plated the hole. Spokesman John Lisle says crews will make permanent repairs next week. UPDATED POST (4:15 p.m.): Frank Pacifico, street and bridge maintenance manager for the District Department of Transportation, tells The Post's Greg Gaudio that crews expect to fill the sinkhole with concrete, cover it with a steel plate and reopen eastbound lanes by 5 p.m. ORIGINAL POST: A four-foot wide by four-foot long, five-foot deep sinkhole opened up in the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. NW this afternoon. It is causing ongoing diversions and will affect the rush hour commute. (DDOT Photo) The D.C. Department of Transportation is working to cover the hole with a plate, pending a more permanent repair. Eastbound traffic was blocked for a few minutes, but crews have reopened two lanes for eastbound traffic between...

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Driving  | Tags: Pennsylvania Ave., Sinkhole  
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Kansas Avenue reopens in NW DC (Updated)

UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): Kansas Ave. is open again. The incident ended with one arrest and no injuries, according to Washington Post reporter Yamiche Alcindor. ORIGINAL POST (12:44 p.m.): Washington Post staff writer Yamiche Alcindor reports of street closures in Washington due to a police situation. The closures are on Kansas Avenue from Gallatin to Ingraham streets. District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle confirms the closures, but cannot confirm why. According to Alcindor's report, individuals barricaded themselves inside a house, and neighbors say it's because they were served with an eviction notice but refused to leave. The situation began early this morning and by 9 a.m. police surrounded the house in the 5200 block of Kansas Avenue....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Tell us about your experiences on the Red Line

A lot of Get There readers are expressing frustration with continuing delays on the Red Line. Please let us know your story. Have you been avoiding the Metro altogether after the tragic accident that killed nine and injured more than 70 last Monday? Taking the bus? Driving? If you're still taking the Red Line, are you leaving for work earlier? How much longer is it taking to get home? Any tips for other riders about avoiding delays? Comments are open, or you can e-mail us directly at hohmannj@washpost.com. poll by twiigs.com...

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Metro, Red Line, Red Line Metro collision  
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Trains on Red Line may speed up this weekend

Metro General Manager John Catoe responded to questions in an online chat on the WMATA web site this afternoon. He suggested that the Red Line trains, currently restricted to speeds no greater than 35 miles per hour, might speed up this weekend to alleviate congestion. A spokesman says Metro officials are meeting with NTSB investigators this afternoon, and transit officials will decide after what speeds Red Line trains will run over the holiday weekend. "There is no action we can take to alleviate the crowded conditions until we can return to normal speeds," Catoe said in the chat. You can read the full transcript of the chat here....

By James Hohmann  |  July 2, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Red Line  
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Virginia Roads Update

Updates from around Northern Virginia... --> On the Dulles Greenway, the ramp from 606 Westbound was reopened at 1:38 p.m. All lanes are now open there. --> The crash at I-495 Westbound at Telegraph Road from earlier, the right lane was opened by 1:30 p.m. --> There was also a crash at the main toll plaza on eastbound 267 east of the toll plaza (just damage, no injuries reported). --> I-66 Westbound and I-495 are heavy in Northern Virginia, the state Department of Transportation reported. --> I-95 continues to be heavy -- moving, but heavy -- fairly heavy in Prince William County....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 2:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   On the Dulles Greenway, the ramp from 606 Westbound was reopened at 1:38 p.m. All lanes are now open there. --> The crash at I-495 Westbound at Telegraph Road from earlier, the right lane was opened by 1:30 p.m. --> There was also a crash at the main toll plaza on eastbound 267 east of the toll plaza (just damage, no injuries reported). --> I-66 Westbound and I-495 are heavy in Northern Virginia, the state Department of Transportation reported. --> I-95 continues to be heavy -- moving, but heavy -- fairly heavy in Prince William County...."; --> Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel closure

UPDATED POST: As of 3:30 p.m, traffic on I-64 west to Little Creek Road was backed up nearly 7 miles. The right lane opened to traffic with a reduced speed limit of 25 mph between the bridges, but one lane remains closed. The second lane will likely remain closed for "several additional hours," according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), as crews look to clear out the water inside a tunnel pump house. Traffic on the Route 17 North James River Bridge remains heavy because of a disabled vehicle earlier in the afternoon, VDOT advies. UPDATED POST: (2 p.m.) The westbound tube of I-64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel remains closed, with congestion building on I-664 North from Bowers Hill to the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. Traffic is backed up for about 11 miles, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Motorists should anticipate alternating lane closures at the Route 17 James...

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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How to Survive Holiday Travel? Get Advice From an Expert

John Townsend, manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, chatted online with readers this afternoon about travel over the July 4th weekend. Here's Townsend's advice on how to beat holiday traffic: Just wondering: So, how early DOES one have to leave in order to "avoid the holiday traffic?" Yesterday night? This morning? Seriously, I'm starting to wonder. John Townsend: Hello Just wondering. All things being equal, the best time to leave is when you are rested and focused. The rush will be on this evening during the height of the rush hour. But because this is truly a three-day holiday weekend, perhaps it is best to let everyone else get of Dodge this evening and then hit the road tomorrow morning. Keep in mind, the July 4th holiday is typically the busiest time of year for auto travel since nearly all school-aged children are out of school,...

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 2, 2009; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  holiday travel  | Tags: July 4 travel tips  
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Traffic Warning: I-95 Southbound slowing way, way down

On I-95 Southbound, the Virginia Department of Transportation is reporting major delays due to congestion at mile marker 162 in Fairfax County. A look at our friendly, helpful traffic cameras confirms -- it's very sluggish. Additionally, there's a backup on I-95 South in Fredericksburg near mile marker 129. This post has been updated....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 1:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Update on Virginia Roads

Update on some Virginia roads from the Virginia State Police, including the Dulles Greenway, I-66, I-95, I-495 and I-395... --> They hope to have all eastbound lanes of the Dulles Greenway open by 1pm. --> There was a crash this morning (about 10 a.m.) on I-66 East, at exit 69 (Washington Blvd.), and they are in the final stages of clearing that up now. --> A vehicle crash with no injuries on I-95 South, north of the Route 1 exit for Woodbridge (exit 161), they were called at noon. --> On I-495 West at Telegraph Road (exit 176), a multi-vehicle crash in the right lane at about 12:10, so traffic is getting by on the left side. --> There was a disabled vehicle on I-395 South at the King Street exit (exit 5) at about 12:15 p.m....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   They hope to have all eastbound lanes of the Dulles Greenway open by 1pm. --> There was a crash this morning (about 10 a.m.) on I-66 East, at exit 69 (Washington Blvd.), and they are in the final stages of clearing that up now. --> A vehicle crash with no injuries on I-95 South, north of the Route 1 exit for Woodbridge (exit 161), they were called at noon. --> On I-495 West at Telegraph Road (exit 176), a multi-vehicle crash in the right lane at about 12:10, so traffic is getting by on the left side. --> There was a disabled vehicle on I-395 South at the King Street exit (exit 5) at about 12:15 p.m...."; --> Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz  

Coming Up: Live Chat With AAA Representative

As another three-day summer holiday weekend approaches, John Townsend, manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic will be online today at 1 p.m. ET to discuss travel on the roads and in the air. Plus, Virginia drivers will face a new law which bans sending or reading text messages and e-mails while driving. A dozen states and the District ban motorists from texting while they drive. Virginia's ban began yesterday and Maryland's takes effect Oct. 1. Townsend will explain. Join the discussion....

By Mike McPhate  |  July 2, 2009; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Driving  | Tags: July 4  
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Brief Maryland Road Updates -- I-95 Traffic

Some brief updates on some Maryland roads: -- There was a minor crash earlier on I-95 North at Central Avenue. It's already on the shoulder and things appear to be moving, but some backups are possible. -- At I-95 and Route 50, things are moving, but traffic is very heavy, so be aware of that....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Bay Bridge Accident Causes Eastbound Delays

11:53 A.M. UPDATE: The Maryland Transportation Authority say that as of 11:53 a.m., the delays have let up on the Bay Bridge. Go forth and be merry. There was an accident involving four vehicles (no injuries reported) on the Bay Bridge this morning. The accident took place at 11:10 a.m. and they cleared it within 10 minutes, but there are still delays heading eastbound at exit 32 (Sandy Point). So both eastbound lanes are open, just moving sluggishly, said Maryland Transportation Authority spokeswoman Teri Moss. Westbound is in two-way operation, which means the left lane of the westbound bridge (at Annapolis) is open for eastbound traffic, while the other two lanes of the westbound bridge are heading west....

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Two Accidents This Morning on Dulles Greenway

Two separate crashes this morning on the Dulles Greenway sent motorists to the hospital, the second crash resulting in an overturned tractor-trailer, according to the Virginia State Police. As a result of the second accident, the westbound ramp from Route 606/Ox Road to eastbound Dulles Greenway is closed. All tolls are clear and traffic is moving, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinnne Gellar said. The first accident occurred at around 7 a.m. when a pedestrian was struck at the Dulles Greenway/Route 267 eastbound toll plaza. The motorist stopped his vehicle and was walking over to the toll booth when he was struck by another vehicle. He was flown to INOVA Fairfax Hospital. A Virginia State Police Accident Reconstruction Team is assisting with the investigation into the crash, and condition of the pedestrian is unknown at this time. About a half-hour later at 7:28 a.m., Virginia State Police were called to a...

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 2, 2009; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Please send in any travel tips this morning...

Good morning folks, Mark Berman here to offer updates for anybody leaving town today. For anyone reading Get There who might be leaving today to get an early start on the long weekend, please e-mail us any notes or tips from your travels. Is I-95 super-crowded? Is the Bay Bridge shockingly traffic-free? Please let us know. Send the e-mail to DrGridlock (at) washpost dot com. Thanks!...

By Mark Berman  |  July 2, 2009; 10:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Traffic Alert: Lanes Reopen on I-66 EB at Beltway

All lanes are now open on I-66 EB at the Beltway after a tow truck hit a jersey wall earlier causing a major back up. Traffic is still heavy from the Prince William Pkwy....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 2, 2009; 6:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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NTSB's Second Update on Metro Crash Probe

In its continuing investigation of the June 22, 2009, accident involving the collision of two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains on the Red Line in Washington, D.C., the National Transportation Safety Board has developed the following factual information: The examination of factors leading up to the accident continues. Investigators have been conducting nightly tests of the train control system at the accident site. Test progress was delayed by some water in underground access areas that made it unsafe for technicians to work on electrical cables until the water could be pumped out. The components being tested include track impedence bonds, wayside cables, and train control system circuitry for the track segment between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations. As previously reported, initial testing showed that when the test train was stopped at the same location as the train that was struck in the accident, the train control system...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 1, 2009; 10:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Red Line crash, ntsb  
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Statement From Metro Chief John Catoe on NTSB Investigation

First and foremost, I want to assure our riders that the Metrorail system is as safe as it can be. We have been working with the NTSB to find the root cause of this tragic accident. And riders will continue to experience delays on the Red Line until we find the cause. We apologize for the inconvenience, but this is critical to gaining a full understanding of why this happened and then taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this kind of tragedy doesn't happen again. Our testing has resulted in our being able to replicate the problem, but not isolate the specific cause. We know the problem is in a track circuit. We could just replace the parts, but we need to understand what caused it. You don't just change the parts. We must find the cause. We have conducted computerized analytical tests, which the NTSB has referenced...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 1, 2009; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash, john catoe  
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D.C., Arlington Announce July 4 Street Closures

* Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway * * Getting Around Locally on July 4 * Law enforcement officials have announced road closures around the Mall for the July 4 festivities. The following streets will be closed between roughly 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.: 4th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW 7th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Constitution Avenue, NW 15th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to Maine Avenue, SW 17th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to E Street, NW 18th Street from Constitution Avenue and Virginia Avenue 19th Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 20th Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 21st Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 22nd Street, NW from C Street to Constitution Avenue 23rd Street from Independence Avenue, SW to C Street, NW C and D Streets, NW from 17th Street to 18th Street...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 1, 2009; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving , Events  
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Rte. 50 Lanes Reopened After Truck Accident

Update, 3:14 p.m.: This accident is cleared and all lanes are reopened, according to our traffic service. Original post: An overturned dump truck has shut lanes of Route 50 at Route 704, state police said. The truck overturned just after 12 p.m., spilling fuel from its tank onto the major highway in Prince George's County, said State Police sources. Police have shut down the left two lanes of Route 50 westbound and the HOV lane eastbound while authorities investigate and clean up the crash. Bonnell said the incident is likely to cause backups before the ramp leading to the Capital Beltway, but traffic should be clear on the Beltway itself. He said cleanup would take at least an hour. No one was seriously injured. It is unclear why the truck overturned. This post has been updated since it was first published. -- Matt Zapotosky...

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 1, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Driving  
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Maryland Hwy Agency Launches Revamped Site

The Maryland State Highway Administration has unveiled a new Web site -- a "work in progress," it says -- that includes a fresh design and an RSS feed for news releases. New tabs across the top organize the site's content under six categories. The agency said it also plans to start a video series that chronicles the month's top stories. Compare the new look to the old one....

By Mike McPhate  |  July 1, 2009; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  highways  
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Metro Transit: NextBus Launches Today

Waiting for the bus? Wondering when, or if, it will arrive? Fret no more. Metrobus riders may finally have all their transit wishes granted when WMATA relaunches its NextBus system today. After major communication problems sidelined the project two years ago, Metro is bringing it back, this time offering real-time schedule information at its 12,000 Metrobus stops in the District, Maryland and Virginia. But will it work? Or will the Metro genie in a bottle fail us again? Please share your experiences using NextBus in the poll and comments below....

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  July 1, 2009; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro , transit  
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Some Things About Getting Around on July 4

* Update: D.C. Announces July 4 Closures * * Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway * Here are some tips for those of you who decided to celebrate Independence Day locally. Metrorail Trains will operate from 7 a.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday. The service will come close to peak-period levels from 4 p.m. to midnight, when most people head out in search of fireworks, then return home. Trains will run on their usual routes on all five rail lines. For the first time in many years, the Smithsonian Station will be open. But it will be designated as exit-only from 6 p.m. until the start of the fireworks, shortly after 9 p.m., and entry-only from about 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Metrorail travel advice is similar to what many of you remember from Inauguration Day: Try to avoid transferring from line to line, because of the crowding in...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2009; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, July 4 travel tips, Metrorail  
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Tips For Your July 4 Weekend Getaway

* D.C. Announces July 4 Closures * * Getting Around Locally on July 4 * Planning to drive ahead of or behind the holiday rush is always worthwhile. (Thomson) Escaping the Washington area for the July 4 holiday should be nothing like the anxiety-provoking experience of leaving town for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It's summer now, and many people who want to get away already have gone. Still, there are some things to consider in making plans. The transportation departments suspend almost all construction work around the holidays, so orange cones should not be a problem along your trips. You should have no problems with the HOT lanes or the I-95 widening project in Virignia or the Arena Drive interchange project on the Beltway in Prince George's. But there are a couple of projects to know about if they're on your getaway route. Chain Bridge: One of the three lanes is...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2009; 10:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Getaway  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, July 4, travel tips  
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Most of Eisenhower Connector Closing For Summer

Many Beltway commuters returning from the July 4 weekend will find a big change to the west of the Wilson Bridge. Most of the Eisenhower Avenue Connector will be closed to drivers, bikers and pedestrians, and it will stay that way through September. This is part of the Wilson Bridge construction project, which involves not only the bridge but also the nearby Beltway interchanges. The connector is being closed to allow deck replacement work on the Beltway above it. The only move drivers will be able to make using the connector takes them from Eisenhower Avenue to the inner loop. During the early part of the week, through traffic from the outer loop will travel in the three left-most lanes over the Connector Bridge. By the end of the week, the right lane of the outer loop will be diverted to the right, using the Eisenhower Connector ramps as the...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2009; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Wilson Bridge  
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Route 50 Detour in Loudoun Changing Today

Cars slow down and drivers pay more attention as they maneuver around the circle. (VDOT) Beginning today, drivers on Route 50 near Aldie in Loudoun County will be detoured around the intersection at Route 15.This is part of the Virginia Department of Transportation program to build four roundabouts along the Route 50 and 15 corridors. Route 50, the John Mosby Highway, is a very pretty, two-lane road through the rolling farmland in eastern Loudoun, but it has become a heavily used commuter route. VDOT wants to improve traffic safety by removing some traffic signals and improving sight lines. While modern roundabouts are used in many places across the nation, they are relatively new to Virginia. They are designed to do two things that seem contradictory: Slow traffic down, while improving traffic flow. If it works, you get there faster by going slower. The latest detour for the $15.8 million...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Gilberts Corner, VDOT, roundabout  
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Traffic Alert: Major Delays on Outer Loop at University Blvd.

A major accident involving four vehicles has created major delays on the Outer Loop of the Beltway at University Blvd. Delays begin before Rt. 1 in College Park. Southbound 95 slows from at Rt. 212 to the Beltway. The accident has been cleared from the road, but earlier it blocked three lanes....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 1, 2009; 6:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  14th street bridge  
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Red Line Trains Not Doing Normal Turnbacks

Dear Dr. Gridlock: Since the tragic accident, Metro has been running all trains from Shady Grove, rather than having some start from Grovesnor. As a result, trains are arriving fairly packed at Grovesnor, and downstream, virtually impossible to get on. Why can't Metro return to its practice of having alternate trains begin at Grovesnor? That practice allows folks to get on the train without difficulties all the way into D.C. At Dupont Circle on Monday, the train I was riding was so packed that the doors jammed and the conductor "offloaded" the train's passengers onto an already overcrowded platform. I gave up and walked to Judiciary Square. I can't do that every day in D.C.'s hot summers. Alternatively, how about treating some trains as "express" and skipping some stations so that every car is not packed? Carol H. Shulman Kensington I think Metro is underestimating how much information it needs...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 1, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Metro , Safety , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Manual Train Operation To Continue, Catoe Says

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr, looking tired and drawn, held a press conference at Metro headquarters in Washington this afternoon to report on the aftermath of the June 22 train wreck and what riders can expect. Red Line: The speed limit on the entire line will remain at 35 mph until the National Transportation Safety Board has finished its work in the crash zone between Takoma and Fort Totten and Metro has done a complete review of safety conditions there. Catoe set no deadline for that, but Metro hopes to have trains operating at regular speeds by July 4. Many of you have been asking why trains throughout the line must adhere to the speed limit. "The slower speed throughout the Red Line is to help us regulate the flow of trains," Catoe said. All trains: Manual control throughout the Metrorail system is a much longer-term prospect. Answering...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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Live Blogging the Metro Press Conference

Dr. Gridlock will be live blogging a Metro press conference set to begin at 3:30 p.m. in which Metro General Manager John Catoe will announce steps being taken as a result of last week's accident on the Red Line. Refresh this page for updates. Live video stream will be available here. 4:11 p.m.: The press conference is over. More from Catoe's statemetn: Trains are running at 35 mph on the Red Line -- the entire line -- to help regulate the throw of trains. The crash zone is the problem. The trains are moving extra slowly through there. 4:07 p.m.: Personal feelings? Catoe says in answer to a question, I haven't had a chance to focus on that. Time for it later. 4:03 p.m. On July 4, all trains will be operating in manual, but there will be enough trains, Catoe says. The Smithsonian Station will be open for the...

By Mike McPhate  |  June 30, 2009; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  
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Audio: Listen In on Metro Press Conference

Metro General Manager John Catoe will announce steps being taken as a result of last week's accident on the Red Line at 3:30 p.m. Listen to the news conference....

By Mike McPhate  |  June 30, 2009; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line  
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Write Your Own Announcement on Metrorail Stops

I've noticed that some train operators are gamely trying to figure out how to tell people on the platform that all trains are pulling all the way to the front now. Sometimes, they'll use the phrase, "Eights to the gate," which was meant to train the operators themselves that all eight-car trains must pull to the platform front so no doors open in tunnel. That works -- sort of -- if the operator is trying to get people to spread out and use all eight cars, but it's really more for internal consumption by Metrorail staff. Last night, I heard an operator try, "This is a six-car train making an eight-car stop." That's a good try, because it gets to the problem of people waiting at mid-platform, when they could be moving forward to reach the first car, and to people waiting too far down the platform, who are going...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Commuting , Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line delays, eight-car stops  
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Marylanders Find E-ZPass Not So Easy

Many drivers who have E-ZPass accounts with Maryland are complaining about the new fees they'll be charged to maintain the accounts. Those fees were approved in January by the Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates the toll roads and bridges in The Free State. The authority says it made these changes because you're driving less, and it gets all its money from the tolls. Here's a list of the changes that take effect on Wednesday: -- E-ZPass Discount Plan duration reduced from 60 days to 45 days. -- A Monthly Account Maintenance Fee of $1.50 will be added to each account. -- The transponder fee for new customers and for replacement devices goes to $21 (interior and exterior license plate), $33 (roof-mount), $40 (fusion). -- Notice of Toll Due Fee goes to $3 for each unpaid toll transaction, plus the toll due. -- The Administrative Fee for failure to pay Notice...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Driving , Getaway  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, E-ZPass, Maryland travel, new fees  
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Circulator Adds 'Where's My Bus?' Feature

Distinctive Circulator buses now operate on five crosstown routes in District. (Thomson) D.C. commuters are not noted for their patience, but has it really come to this? The District's five-route bus service has added a mobile application that will help you track the location of the nearest buses along your route. It's kind of cool, and it didn't cost the District government much to make, but if the Circulator service is working properly, this is an app for the extremely nervous. The selling point of the Circulator is that the buses arrive every 10 minutes. The arrivals are so frequent that the service doesn't publish a schedule. It just posts the hours of operation. So by the time you fire up your app and figure out where the bus is, it should be there. I added the app to my mobile device. So far, the thing I've found most...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 10:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  | Tags: D.C. Circulator bus, Dr. Gridlock, transit applications  
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Chain Bridge Work? Look Underneath For Signs

Drivers say they haven't seen much more work since the lane was closed. (Thomson) Many drivers who commute via Chain Bridge have been asking: If DC is going to block off one of our precious three lanes for this rehab job, can't we at least see some work? It came up again during my online chat Monday. So far, most of the work is underneath the bridge and out of sight for the drivers crossing the bridge, said District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle. The workers are relocating the tow path on C&O Canal land to accommodate the steel repairs, and they are setting up to re-point the pier stone facing. But the contractor needs the lane on the bridge for the delivery of materials, bridge lighting work and the painting of the superstructure steel beams, Lisle said. (That reminded me of the American Legion Bridge rehab done...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Chain Bridge, DDOT, Dr. Gridlock, delays  
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Commuter Alert: Blue/Orange Delays Cleared at McPherson Square

Earlier Blue/Orange Line delays toward Franconia-Springfield and Vienna have been cleared....

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 30, 2009; 8:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Alert: All Lanes Reopen on I-66 EB Before Nutley St.

All lanes have been reopend on I-66 eastbound between Fairfax and Nutley Street after an earlier accident closed all but one lane. Traffic remains heavy and delays begin at Rt. 28 in Centreville....

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 30, 2009; 8:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Red Line Open, But Speed Restrictions Continue

Riders will find all stations open, and the trains will be using both tracks. But service will be slow, because the trains are in manual control rather than automatic, the speed limit on the entire line is 35 mph, and the trains run especially slow through the zone between Takoma and Fort Totten where the wreck occurred on June 22. (Isn't that a clearer way to say it than one of those eAlerts from Metro?) What's really clear: The restrictions result in crowding and delay on the rush hour platforms and on the trains along Metro's most heavily-used line. Trips are likely to take at least a half hour longer than normal. To balance out the line, operations controllers will hold trains for several minutes and sometimes will order operators to unload them at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland or Fort Totten, so the trains can return to pick up more...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 6:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Metro Train Strikes, Kills Man at Forest Glen Station

8:40 p.m. update: Normal service has resumed on the Red Line between Forest Glen and Silver Spring stations. 5 p.m. update: Metro reports a man was struck and killed by a Red Line train at Forest Glen this afternoon. The transit authority said it appeared the man was on the tracks deliberately. Trains are sharing a single track between Forest Glen and Silver Spring. Single-tracking is likely to continue through the rush period. The incident, at about 4:10 p.m., involved an uncrowded, eight-car Red Line train heading downtown. The passengers were able to evacuate the train by with the assistance of Metro employees. Other trains then began sharing the track around the stopped train. Meanwhile, the Red Line restrictions imposed following last Monday's crash remain in place: The trains are under manual control, the speed limit is 35 mph, the slowdown is more pronounced between Fort Totten and Takoma, the...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 29, 2009; 5:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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D.C. Service Could Create Delays This Evening

A memorial service at the D.C. Armory for one of the victims of last week's Metro train crash, Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr., could cause gridlock on nearby streets. No street closures are planned, but heavy pedestrian traffic could cause delays between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. See our live traffic map....

By Mike McPhate  |  June 29, 2009; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Red Line crash, delays  
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Takoma Station to Close Early Next 3 Nights

The Takoma Metro station will close at 10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as officials investigate the circumstances of last week's deadly crash. The station will reopen at 5 a.m. the following mornings. Read WMATA's full advisory....

By Mike McPhate  |  June 29, 2009; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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Metro Trying to Adjust to Red Line Demand

While last Monday's crash occurred on the eastern side of the Red Line, the continuing delays affect the entire line, from Shady Grove to Glenmont. And that's likely to continue. Many of us got a Metro eAlert this morning that said this: "To minimize delays, a number of trains will offload at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland-CUA and Ft. Totten stations. Shuttle bus service is available." I found that confusing, so I asked Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel to describe what was going on. (His group at Metro doesn't do the eAlerts.) Red Line trains are under manual control and operate at 35 mph. They are extra slow between Takoma and Fort Totten, the zone where the crash occurred. Normally, it should take 61 minutes to get between Shady Grove and Glenmont. Because of the slowdown, Taubenkibel said, it's taking that long to get from Shady Grove to Fort Totten. To try...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 29, 2009; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, Metrorail, Red Line crash, delays  
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Join Me For Noontime Chat

We can talk about all your local travel concerns, whether it's the continuing impact of last Monday's train wreck or your plans for getting out of town for the July 4 weekend. Bring on your traffic and transit issues. (Or maybe you walkers and bikers would like to hear more about the new Wilson Bridge Trail.) Here the link to the discussion. And here's the one to submit a question or comment before we start at noon....

By Robert Thomson  |  June 29, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Traffic Alert: All Lanes Open on WB I-66 Prior to Rt. 28

Fairfax County is reporting significant delays on I-66 prior to Rt. 28 because of an earlier accident. Delays begin near Rt. 7100. Eastbound I-66 slows at Business 234 as drivers look at the accident.The accident required the use of a medevac helicopter, which briefly shut down all westbound lanes on I-66. All lanes have been reopened and the accident is on the shoulder....

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 29, 2009; 8:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Alert: Lanes Cleared on I-270 SB After I-370

All lanes are open on I-270 SB after an accident blocked three lanes at I-370 earlier....

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 29, 2009; 7:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Alert: One SB Lane Blocked on GW Pkwy. in Alexandria

One SB lane is blocked on the George Washington Memorial Pkwy. after Belle View Blvd. An accident is at Tulane Drive....

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 29, 2009; 7:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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The Week Ahead in Traffic, Transit

It's a short week, because so many people get Friday off for the Fourth of July, but there are many changes across the transportation system to be aware of. Metrorail [Updated at 8 a.m.] The Red Line once again goes between Shady Grove and Glenmont on two tracks. However, trains on this line have a 35 mph speed limit as a safety precaution following last Monday's train wreck. They are traveling even more slowly this morning between Fort Totten and Rhode Island Avenue, because of the continuing investigation into last Monday's train wreck. Metro says that to minimize delays, it has ordered some trains to offload their passengers at Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland and Fort Totten. Shuttle buses are available. The delays are adding about half an hour to travel times, Metro says. On all lines, the trains are under the control of the operators, rather than the automated train...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 29, 2009; 5:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Driving , Getaway , Metro , holiday travel , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Independence Day, July 4, detour, summer, vacation travel  
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Takoma Metro Station Closed Tonight

The Takoma Metrorail station will be closed tonight between 10 p.m. and midnight as officials investigate the cause of last week's fatal crash. The station will reopen at 5 a.m. Monday, officials said. Read more details on Red Line adjustments at Metro's Web site....

By Mike McPhate  |  June 28, 2009; 10:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  | Tags: delays, metrorail, red line crash  
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Many Bus Schedule, Fare Changes This Week

Many route changes and a few fare increases take effect in the Washington region starting today. Metrobus and the suburban bus systems start their fiscal years on Wednesday, and most of these changes reflect their budget problems. Most bus services were able to dodge the bigger cuts that their financial planners proposed this spring. But the changes still are quite significant. In fact, there are too many to absorb in one blog posting, so in most cases, I'll give you links to the new schedules and further information. In some lucky cases, you'll find there's extra service. In others, a route may be operated by a different service. Metrobus The transit authority's bus fleet is involved in many of the changes. For example, the transit authority says it is discontinuing the C7, C9 (Greenbelt-Glenmont Line) because of low ridership. Same with the L7 (Connecticut Avenue-Maryland Line), but the L8 rush...

By Robert Thomson  |  June 28, 2009; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Metro , transit  | Tags: Arlington, Dr. Gridlock, Fairfax, Montgomery, Washington, bus service changes  
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