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Get There: July 12, 2009 - July 18, 2009

Metro Looking For Ideas From Bikers, Walkers

The transit authority is looking for ideas on how it could do more to help people who either bike or walk to the rail stations. It won't be doing one of the things often requested by cyclists: Allowing bikes on the trains during rush hours. No room, Metro says. But it has other options. There's plenty of room for improvement on bike storage at the stations, and that's another topic I often hear about from readers. For pedestrians, Metro is interested in knowing about gaps in the sidewalks within a half mile of the stations, or other safety issues involving walking. This is a good thing for Metro to be doing: Local governments are trying to focus commercial and residential development around the stations. We can't keep building parking garages, to the point where the stations are surrounded by concrete fortresses. The result is that more people are going to...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 17, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Biking , Metro , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, cycling, pedestrian safety, top ten, walking  
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Maryland to Rebuild Route 301/214 Interchange

In a few weeks, the Maryland State Highway Administration will begin a bridge rehabilitation along southbound Route 301 over Route 214 (Central Avenue) in Bowie. The project is scheduled to be done next summer. This week, SHA says, crews are placing barriers along sections of Central Avenue. Changes in traffic patterns, including lane shifts and ramp closings, are coming up. During the work, there will be two through lanes southbound on Route 301, but that will be maintained by using one existing through lane and one shoulder. Ramps Closings In a few weeks, the ramps from westbound Central Avenue to southbound Route 301 and from southbound Route 301 to eastbound Central Avenue will be detoured. The detours will remain in place for the next year. If you're driving south on Route 301 to reach eastbound Central Avenue, you will continue across the interchange bridge, turn right onto Old Central Avenue,...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 17, 2009; 9:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Maryland State Highway Administration  
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The Weekend and Beyond

Let's see, what should you avoid this weekend? I figure it's the Red Line for transit users and Kenilworth Avenue for drivers, but see what you think, because there are more choices. Here's my weekly list of travel tips. Red Line Disruption Saturday is the day that federal investigators will be out in the Red Line crash zone testing the sight lines. Rail service will suspended between Silver Spring and Fort Totten until 7 p.m. Trains will turn back at Silver Spring and Fort Totten. Free shuttle buses will connect Silver Spring, Takoma and Fort Totten. The shuttle takes about 40 minutes to make the entire trip. Even if you're not riding the Red Line on the eastern side, where the disruption is, figure on at least a half hour longer trip than normal. Other Metrorail Delays The regular track maintenance schedule for this weekend includes work on the Red,...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 17, 2009; 9:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction , Driving , Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Kenilworth Avenue, Metrorail, Red Line crash, weekend delays  
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Morning Delays on Beltway in Virginia

[8:51 a.m. update: Both loops of the Beltway have been cleared, but watch for continuing delays.] Original Post: There are two accidents slowing travel on both the inner and outer loops near Eisenhower Avenue. The one on the inner loop involves two tractor trailers and a car. The right lane is blocked at Eisenhower Avenue. The outer loop crash involves two cars. They are between Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn Street. That information comes from the Wilson Bridge Project, which is monitoring traffic through the work zone. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 17, 2009; 7:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Congestion , Driving  
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Traffic Alert: Backup on I-270 North

Update, 8:00 p.m.: Traffic remains slow on I-270 N between Route 121 and The Truck Scales, according to our live traffic map. Original post, 5:30 p.m.: Authorities are advising motorists to avoid I-270 N if possible in their evening commutes. At 4:18 p.m., two vehicles crashed in the northbound lanes of Interstate 270 North, prior to MD-80, police said. For 53 minutes, both lanes were closed. At 5:11 p.m., one of the lanes reopened. The other opened about 5:30. There are still major backups on the road, as rescue crews remain on the scene. Lora Rakowski of the Maryland State Highway Administration said there were injuries, but she did not know details. See live traffic map....

By James Hohmann  |  July 16, 2009; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  | Tags: Interstate 270, commute, roads  
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Some Relief For Chain Bridge Drivers

The District Department of Transportation and the contractor working on the rehab of Chain Bridge have been trying to figure out ways of easing the traffic congestion that resulted from the closing of one of its three lanes for the duration of the project. They plan to try something new on July 27. This effort deals with a complaint I've heard from some of you: Virginia-bound traffic wanting to make a right turn and go up Route 123 gets caught behind traffic wanting to go straight up Glebe Road. So the plan is to adjust the concrete barriers and add some lane striping to create separate through and turn lanes at the traffic signal on the Virginia side. That should at least create enough space for several cars of turning traffic to get by, says John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Chain Bridge, Dr. Gridlock, delays, rehabilitation  
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MARC Announces Schedule Changes

MARC commuter rail is announcing changes in some train schedules on the Camden and Penn lines. The Brunswick Line is not affected. On the Penn Line, changes involve departure or arrival times for these trains. -- Northbound: 408, 410, 520, 428 and 442 -- Southbound: 521, 427, 535, and 439 On the Camden Line, a stop at College Park has been added to northbound train 846 and southbound train 849. Train 846 will stop at College Park at 4:24 p.m. and Train 849 will stop there at 8:10 a.m. For full schedule details, use this link....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 2:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, MARC, commuter trains, schedule  
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Avoid Kenilworth Avenue This Weekend

There's more work to be done in the longterm construction zone around Burroughs Avenue NE. Workers are scheduled to place a new section of the bridge deck that takes Kenilworth (295) over the avenue. This will close two northbound lanes from 8 p.m. Friday through noon on Saturday. One left lane will be available for through traffic. Or, you can use the Burroughs Avenue exit then merge back onto Kenilworth after crossing through the Burroughs Avenue intersection. Either way, expect delays northbound. Consider these alternatives for getting through DC to the Beltway: I-395 to Route 50 East (New York Avenue), Whitney Young Bridge to East Capitol Street to Central Avenue, Sousa Bridge to Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving  
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Red Line Rehab Program Approved By Metro Board

The Metro board has just voted to approve a $177 million program that will rehabilitate the Red Line between Dupont Circle and Silver Spring over the next few years. There was little discussion. Board member Peter Benjamin wanted assurance from staff that Metro would have the flexibility to redirect the money if necessary to deal with other contingencies, such as those that might arise out of Red Line crash aftermath. After getting that assurance, the board voted in favor of the plan. Here's a review of what's involved in the Red Line program. There are lots of important improvements to the line in this plan, including fixes for platforms, stations, escalators and elevators and track. Also, it targets some of the oldest and most heavily used portions of the rail system. My continuing concern is how close Metro will come to maintaining the train schedule while the work is underway....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Red Line, rehabilitation  
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Metro Chief Says He Regrets Continuing Delays

The full Metro Board and staff this morning are reviewing the latest information on the June 22 Red Line crash and the delays that continue even at this moment. Board Chairman Jim Graham talked about the continuing mystery of why the track circuit that is supposed to detect the presence of a train in the crash zone is continuing to fail on occasion. General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., providing update on the investigation: The equipment in the problem track circuit was changed out after the accident. The fluttering in the circuit continues. Until the investigators know why, the investigation on the site will not be complete. "We will not rest until we do find what the cause has been." Catoe said. "This is a time for action," he said later, as he described Metro's efforts to comply with this week's National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that Metro find a...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Metro , Safety , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Metrorail Stations Scheduled For Makeovers

Metro has a team that tackles the basic repair and cleaning jobs that improve the look of the rail stations. If you notice a station looking brighter and cleaner over a period of several months, it's most likely because the station enhancement crew has been on the job. At a Metro committee meeting this morning, Paul Gillum, Metro's director of plant maintenance, laid out the schedule for the fiscal year that started July 1. His people do 12 "major" and 12 "mini" enhancements each year. The longterm schedule is to restore the look of each station about every three years and nine months. Enhancements are scheduled for these stations during the next 12 months: Major Enhancements: Dunn Loring, East Falls Church, Eisenhower Avenue, Forest Glen, Medical Center, Potomac Avenue, Twinbrook, Wheaton, White Flint, U Street, Vienna, West Falls Church. Mini Enhancements: Ballston, Bethesda, Brookland, Court House, Foggy Bottom, Franconia-Springfield, Friendship...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, station enhancement  
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Metro Board Discusses Safety Issues

The Metro board and its safety committee are meeting this morning. Watch for updates on board actions and discussions through the morning. At the Customer Service, Operations and Safety Committee meeting: The board members and Metro staff are discussing the June 22 crash and its consequences. Board member Chris Zimmerman is asking about the universe of automatic train controls. Zimmerman: To develop the kind of train control backup system recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board this week, he's asking about what transit agencies around the orld have automatic controls. Who else can we talk to? And where else is there a market for such devices? Dave Kubicek, Metrorail manager: He says he's talking to various manufacturers to get a better idea of what's available in train controls. At this stage, he says, it looks like there will be unique aspects to a Metrorail solution. (We can't just buy something...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Lane Closures on Little River Turnpike

Fairfax County's Community Emergency Alert Network reports that two eastbound lanes of Little River Turnpike/Route 236 are closed between Old Columbia Pike and Lafayette Park Drive. One westbound lane is closed, due to a 12-inch water main burst on Little River Turnpike. Work in the area is expected to last through the afternoon, according to Fairfax Water Authority spokeswoman Jeanne Bailey....

By Michael Bolden  |  July 16, 2009; 8:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Red Line Disruption at Midday

Red Line riders, get where you're going early this morning. Takoma Station is scheduled to shut at 10 a.m., just after the morning rush, and there will be no train service between Silver Spring and Fort Totten until 3 p.m., just before the afternoon rush. During those hours, Metro will resume the free shuttle bus service between Silver Spring and Fort Totten, with a stop at Takoma Station. In Silver Spring, where the station is under reconstruction, the bus stop is on Dixon Avenue. At Takoma and Fort Totten, the bus stops in the station parking area. Takoma riders, make sure you know whether the bus is going north or south before you board. They are not always clearly marked. The shutdown, which will allow the National Transportation Safety Board investigators to test sight lines on the tracks where the crash occurred on June 22, will also take up much...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 6:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Beltway Traffic Shift Underway in Virginia

updated Thursday, 5:35 a.m. The Wilson Bridge Project has scheduled a major traffic shift for Thursday, by 5 a.m. The right lane of the Beltway's outer loop will be diverted to the right, and traffic will begin to use the Eisenhower Avenue Connector ramps as a third outer loop travel lane. This new configuration will stay remain through September. During that time, drivers won't be able to turn onto the Connector or stop on those ramps. How It Will Happen At 9 o'clock Wednesday, outer loop traffic went down to one lane from Van Dorn Street to Eisenhower Avenue. After midnight, traffic was to be stopped completely once in a while, for no more than 20 minutes. I advise avoiding the outer loop while this is happening. Watch Signs Look for signs announcing that Exit 174 is closed that the detour route from the outer loop follows Van Dorn Street...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 5:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Wilson Bridge  | Tags: Capital Beltway, Dr. Gridlock, Eisenhower Connector  
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More Red Line Disruptions Thursday and Saturday

There's another big break in service coming, Metro says. Takoma Station will close from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. This will allow the National Transportation Safety Board to continue its investigation of the June 22 train crash. Metro says it was told by the NTSB this afternoon that the investigators will test the sight distance along the tracks between Takoma and Fort Totten, the zone where the fatal crash occurred. That means no regular train travel in that area during the hours of the testing. So during that time, the Red Line will be divided into two now-familiar segments. Trains will run between Glenmont and Silver Spring and between Fort Totten and Shady Grove. In between, riders will have to board free shuttle buses, which will stop at Takoma as well as Silver Spring and Fort Totten. Riders are...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 15, 2009; 5:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Traffic Alert: Constitution Ave. Blocked Near Capitol

Constitution Avenue is blocked between First St. NW and First St. NE because of police activity. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 15, 2009; 5:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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Traffic Alert: Backup on Northbound I-395

Update, 1:25 p.m.: Lanes appear to have been reopened, according to our traffic camera map. Original post, 11:48 a.m.: Two lanes are closed on northbound I-395 just before the 14th Street Bridge because of a vehicle accident. One left lane is getting by. Traffic is slow from Washington Blvd. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 15, 2009; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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Metro's Continuing Problem With Train Controls

Should Metro, and some other transit systems, rethink the use of automatic train controls? That was an issue raised by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) during a congressional hearing Tuesday on the June 22 Metrorail crash. But whether trains are run automatically or manually, they still need a protection system that prevents them from getting too close to each other. Right now, Metro doesn't have a system we can trust completely. On the Red Line, the track circuit that flickered on June 22 and hid the location of the train that was struck continues to malfunction, even after critical equipment was replaced. Metro and the NTSB don't know why. Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham said during the congressional hearing that this mystery must be solved before normal operations can resume. Until Metro is sure that all trains can be detected by its electronic protection system, it will send only one train...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 15, 2009; 9:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line crash  
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Congressional Committee Examines Metro Crash

Here are some highlights of the hearing that began at 2:15 and ended at 5:34 p.m. The most recent information is at the top of the entry: The second panel of witnesses is beginning it's opening statements at 3:55 p.m, which will be followed by questions from the members of Congress. The witnesses are: DC Council member Jim Graham, chairman of the Metro board; John B. Catoe Jr., Metro general manager; Deborah A. P. Hersman, member, National Transportation Safety Board; Eric Madison, Chairman, Tri-State Oversight Committee; Peter M. Rogoff Administrator, Federal Transit Administration. Graham, at 3:58 p.m.: Metro is providing emergency relief to the victims of the crash. "We believe in our management," he adds. "We believe our system is safe." Action will be take to remedy and address the problems that the investigation reveals. But to meet pressing infrastructure needs, we need real action from the federal government, he...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 14, 2009; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  | Tags: Congress oversight, Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line crash  
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Metro's Not So Fail-Safe System

* Live Webcast, NOW: House Hearing on Metro Crash * The term entered the common language during the Cold War when Eugene Burdick wrote an arms-race thriller called "Fail-Safe." The scenario seems dated now: To the stunned surprise of controllers, U.S. nuclear bombers move past the point at which they're supposed to stop. But it's still a ripper, because of the well-known principle the 1962 novel illustrated: If something can go wrong, eventually it will. Nothing built by humans is "Fail-Safe." Metro's operations control center isn't as impressive as the Strategic Air Command's headquarters, with its towering maps and flashing lights, but it's basically the same function: Redundant protections are supposed to make the train system fail-safe. But ultimately, humans are making sure the equipment is going where it's supposed to go. On June 22, a fail-safe system failed to prevent the fatal crash of two Metrorail trains on Washington's...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 14, 2009; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Metro , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Power Restored After Outages in H Street NE Area

Update, 12:24 p.m.: Pepco says power has been restored to the area. Original post, 11:50 a.m.: Pepco's live map is reporting outages affecting more than 1,700 customers in the area of H Street NE. No word yet on traffic impact. See Pepco's live outage map....

By Mike McPhate  |  July 14, 2009; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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House Panel Set to Hold Hearing on Metro Crash

* Dr. Gridlock Blogs the Hearing * * Connect to the Live Webcast * A House subcommittee will hold a hearing at 2 p.m. today to discuss the June 22 Metro crash. In light of the urgent safety recommendation issued by the National Transportation Safety Board last night, members of Congress are certain to ask questions about what Metro is doing to keep passengers safe and what options they are exploring to add the real-time, continuous backup that might have alerted the train operators to potential problems before the accident and stopped the train. Set to testify - and answer questions - are Metro General Manager John Catoe and NTSB member Deborah Hersman. Metro said in a press release last night that it plans to work on developing protections in line with what the federal safety board urged, and Catoe will likely stress his commitment to doing that. Hersman is...

By James Hohmann  |  July 14, 2009; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Metro , Transportation Politics  | Tags: metro accident  
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Traffic Alert: Lanes Reopen on Outer Loop at Braddock Road

All lanes are now open on the Outer Loop of the Beltway at Braddock Road after an earlier accident blocked traffic. See live traffic map....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 14, 2009; 7:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Alert: 23rd St. Still Closed Due to Water Main Break

An early morning water main break that closed 23rd Street NW between Washington Circle and H Street NW near the George Washington Hospital continues to play havoc with navigation. The break, which was in an 8-inch line, spread water, sand and gravel over the intersection. Crews are currently excavating the pipeline and repairs won't be finished until later this evening, according to D.C. Water and Sewer Authority spokeswoman Pamela Mooring. The break did not cause any damage in the area and no customers have had their water shut off, Mooring said. See live traffic map....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 14, 2009; 6:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Major Accident on SB I-270 at I-370 Cleared

A multiple car collision on southbound I-270 before I-370 has been moved from the roadway. Delays are now clear....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 13, 2009; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Traffic Alert: Delays on S Van Dorn St. in Alexandria

Update, 10:45 a.m.: One lane of South Van Dorn Street is now open in both directions. Original post, 8:25 a.m.: A water main break has closed South Van Dorn Street in both directions at Vine Street in Alexandria. Authorities say it is unclear how long the road will be closed. Reports say the road has buckled in the area. See live traffic map....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 13, 2009; 8:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Advisories  
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