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Get There: July 19, 2009 - July 25, 2009

The Weekend and Beyond

As the weekend began Friday afternoon, Metro employees handed out pamphlets to fast-moving travelers at Gallery Place. The pamphlets describe the crash investigation and its consequences, including potential slowdowns on all Metrorail lines. (Thomson) Here are some suggestions about your travels by road and rail this weekend and next week. Rail slowdowns continue, but we've got some highway work, as well. Metro Weekend Delays Track maintenance is scheduled on only one line this weekend, but riders could experience slowdowns on any day on any line because of Metro train control policies instituted after the June 22 train crash. The scheduled work this weekend is on the Blue Line: Riders traveling between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road should add at least half an hour to normal trip times. Metro will be replacing the concrete support structures underneath the tracks, and as a result, trains in both directions will share a single...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 25, 2009; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Update: Overturned Vehicle on Outer Loop of Beltway Near 295 Cleared

UPDATE (4:03 p.m.): The accident has been cleared, according to Kellie Boulware of the Maryland State Highway Administration. The vehicle flipped off on the shoulder area. No injuries were reported. ORIGINAL POST (3:29 p.m.): There is an overturned vehicle along the outer loop of the Capitol Beltway, just north of the exit for MD-295 (the Baltimore-Washington Parkway), according to Kellie Boulware of the Maryland State Highway Administration. Rescue crews are on their way to the scene, she said, and motorists should expect delays. Initial reports indicate that the car is near the shoulder area. Updates on traffic incidents and closures in the area can be found on the traffic page....

By James Hohmann  |  July 24, 2009; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Red Line Open All The Way For Weekend

Metro says Takoma Station will stay open at its regular hours this weekend, but it's unclear what the National Transportation Safety Board investigators may need to do after Sunday and how that might affect Red Line service. Even with no break in the line this weekend, riders should steel themselves for slower than normal trips and add at least a half hour to their regular travel times. The normal weekend hours for Takoma Station -- the hours that will be in effect this weekend -- are from 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to midnight Sunday. The NTSB has told Metro it will not be working on the tracks between Takoma and Fort Totten where the train crash occurred on June 22. But as is true every day, trains are moving one at a time through the crash zone. That causes...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2009; 2:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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UPDATE: Man 'Intentionally Placed Himself on the Tracks' at Van Ness; Delays Continue

UPDATE (2:59 p.m.): A Metro press release confirms that Red Line service near the Van Ness station has returned to normal after trains shared a single track in that area for nearly two hours. UPDATE (2:55 p.m.): Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato says that service on the Red Line has returned to normal with trains using both sides of the track. She warns though that there will be "residual delays" for a little while. Fortunately for commuters, this happened before the onslaught of the Friday rush hour. UPDATE (2:52 p.m.): Metro just sent a text alert to say that the disruption at Van Ness-UDC station caused by the man who apparently jumped onto the track has been cleared. UPDATE (2:08 p.m.): Metro just sent an alert to say that delays in both directions continue on the Red Line. The text alert advises that "the estimated duration of the incident is 30...

By James Hohmann  |  July 24, 2009; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Tags: metro, red line  
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Chain Bridge Change Coming Next Week

Here are more details about the plan to ease congestion a bit during the Chain Bridge rehab that has annoyed so many drivers. The District Department of Transportation is going to make a fix that should help traffic going from the District to Arlington. The construction barriers on that side of the Potomac will be repositioned and the lane lines repainted to create a separate lane for traffic turning right onto Route 123. At the moment, all traffic in that direction, whether it's heading for Route 123, off to the right, or for Glebe Road, straight ahead, shares a single lane. Drivers who want to turn right, but are stuck behind straight-ahead traffic at the red light, have asked for this right-turn lane. This won't completely solve their problem, because traffic heading in both directions still can backup on the bridge, but it should help. The switch to this new...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2009; 9:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Chain Bridge, Dr. Gridlock, delays  
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Metro Response Undermines Rider Confidence

Metro Chairman Jim Graham and GM John Catoe at Thursday news conference. (Thomson) Dear Dr. Gridlock: I used to brag that I lived in D.C. where unlike New York, the Metro is clean. Unlike Boston, the Metro is easy to use. And unlike Baltimore, the public transportation is safe. I don't brag about D.C. transportation anymore. It's not because of the June accident -- tragedies and mistakes happen. It's because of the response after the accident. Jennifer Dein, Washington When the transit authority faces an emergency on Metrorail it typically focuses on solving the engineering problem. Meanwhile, it rarely mobilizes sufficient resources to help tens of thousands of customers get where they're going, or at least tell them what's going on and what alternatives they have. In the midst of an extended emergency following the June 22 Red Line crash, Metro still is focused on the engineering. Metro's leaders...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2009; 8:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Traffic Signals Coming Back at D.C. Intersections

10:12 a.m. update: At New York and Florida avenues NE, the traffic signal is working on a generator but out of sync with the next one at New York Avenue and First Street NE, creating delays. Original post: The District Department of Transportation says traffic signals are still out at some key downtown intersections after last night's storms. Treat them as four-way stops, if traffic control officers are not on the scene. Traffic signals remain out at these locations: * New York Avenue and Florida Avenue NE * South Dakota Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE * Pennsylvania Avenue and Southern Avenue SE In addition, the following signals are on flash (blinking yellow and red signals): * 5th Street and Upshur Street NW * New Jersey Avenue and K Street NW * New York Avenue and Brentwood Road NE Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2009; 8:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Commuting , Driving  | Tags: District Department of Transportation, Dr. Gridlock, Washington DC traffic  
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Traffic Alert: 16th Street NW Closed at Scott Circle

16th Street NW is closed at Scott Circle NW (Massachusetts Ave. NW) because of standing water. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 23, 2009; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Driving  
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Accident at N Capitol St. NW and New York Ave. NW

Update, 6:45 p.m.: This accident appears to be cleared, according to traffic cams near the scene. Update, 5:34 p.m.: New York Ave. NW outbound lanes are now open, according to our live traffic map. The ramp from outbound New York Ave. NW to southbound North Capitol NW remains closed. Traffic is slow from the 3rd Street Tunnel. Original post, 5:18 p.m.: A major accident has been reported at the intersection of North Capital NW and New York Ave NW, according to D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services. Seven patients are being transported from the scene. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes 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', '457', '9', '#ffffff'); so.addParam('wmode','transparent'); so.addVariable('mapReference', 'l'); so.addVariable('api_key', 'ABQIAAAATopkmDpWXE6itAvqlsApMBTYP6zZ3OpIOtWdECmoYrSQ0ZW-bxTkbOsexyZdOGeMVmeDkJFZoRtXYw'); so.addVariable('mapColWidth', '454'); so.addVariable('mapSpacerGap', '5'); so.addVariable('mapHasNeatline', 'true'); so.addVariable('linkLocatorDetail', 'true'); so.addVariable('orientation', 'column'); so.addVariable('map1depth', '216'); so.addVariable('map1width', '454'); so.addVariable('map1centerLat', '38.907372'); so.addVariable('map1centerLong', '-77.009186'); so.addVariable('map1zoom', '9'); so.addVariable('map1mapType', 'map');...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 23, 2009; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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Metro Response to NTSB Advisory

* NTSB's Third Update on Metro Red Line Crash * * Track Circuit Malfunctioning Since 2007, NTSB Says * News release issued at 2:03 pm, July 23, 2009 The ongoing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation to determine the cause of the June 22 Red Line collision near the Fort Totten Metrorail station has indicated that a second impedance bond or Wee-Z bond (bond #14) at the site of the accident "has been intermittently fluctuating" since December 2007, according the NTSB's latest update. Investigators still do not know the cause of the accident and Metro is continuing to work closely with the NTSB on the investigation to determine the root cause. A sampling of the performance data from December 2007 to June 17 found that intermittent "fluctuations" or anomalies were discovered in bond 14, but none that would cause the loss of the track circuit's ability to detect a train....

By Mike McPhate  |  July 23, 2009; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: metro accident, ntsb, red line  
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NTSB's Third Update on Metro Red Line Crash

* Metro Responds to NTSB Advisory * * Track Circuit Malfunctioning Since 2007, NTSB Says * National Transportation Safety Board Washington, DC 20594 July 23, 2009 The National Transportation Safety Board continues to make progress in its investigation of the June 22, 2009, collision of two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains on the Red Line in Washington, D.C. The Board has developed the following factual information: Two signal companies, Ansaldo STS USA (US&S) and Alstom Signaling Inc. (GRS), that designed and manufactured the automatic train control components for the WMATA system, are providing technical assistance to the NTSB investigation. As previously reported, an impedance bond (#15) for the track circuit where the accident occurred was replaced on June 17th, 2009, five days before the accident. Continued review of the maintenance logs has identified that the impedance bond (#14), located on the other end of the same circuit, was...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 23, 2009; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Metro  
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Traffic Alert: Backup Clears on Inner Loop of Beltway

An earlier backup on the Inner Loop of the Beltway in Md. has cleared....

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 23, 2009; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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ICC Project Affects Traffic Between I-95 and Rt. 29

Driving the ICC today means off-roading past lots of construction equipment. (Thomson) The Intercounty Connector project, much of which has been hidden from view along the right of way set aside for it, is going to bust out in a couple of new spots on its eastern side. Traffic along sections of Briggs Chaney Road and Old Gunpowder Road will be shifted for up to a year as workers build new bridges to carry traffic over the connector. Starting tonight at 8 o'clock, traffic on Briggs Chaney Road south of Route 29 near Gentry Ridge Court -- about half way between 29 and 95 -- will be shifted to a temporary road to the east of Briggs Chaney. Drivers will have the same number of lanes. For bikers and walkers, a temporary path is being built along the west side of the new route, separated from traffic by a...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 23, 2009; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Intercounty Connector, Maryland State Highway Administration  
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MD Beltway's 'Exit Only' Signs Confuse Drivers

Those aren't really "Exit Only" lanes but some drivers move left suddenly at divide. (Thomson) Maryland's State Highway Administration says new signs are on the way to clarify what options drivers have at the new Beltway lane divide in the Landover Road interchange area. Drivers on both the inner and outer loops have complained to me that the recent reconstruction has left motorists confused about which lane they need to be in at the divide. Here's one such comment from Monday's online discussion. Rockville, Md.: I drove through the Arena Drive/Landover Road interchanges for the first time in a while this weekend, and was wondering if the construction was finished. If the work there is indeed done, I'm very disappointed. The work was supposed to improve flow through the area to allow for the exit at Arena Drive, but all they have done is made it worse! There's no...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 23, 2009; 9:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving , highways  | Tags: Arena Drive, Capital Beltway, Dr. Gridlock, FedEx, Maryland State Highway Administration  
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Metro Accidentally Sending Out Old Advisories

5:30 p.m. Update: Any e-mail advisory you got from Metro after 3 p.m. today is about something that happened this year, the transit authority says. The earlier listserv problem with a blitz of e-mail notifications leading to press releases from 2003 has been fixed. These are not the e-Alerts. We have other issues with those notifications about problems on the lines. Today's trouble was with the e-mails sent from "METRO: Press Release" with the subject heading beginning "Metro News." 12:35 Update: Metro says the malfunction in its e-mail notification system for news releases began at 10:45 a.m. Subscribers can expect as many as 300 e-mails sent from "METRO: Press Release" with the subject heading beginning with "Metro News," but linking to news from 2003. It's a listserv software problem, Metro says, and its IT department is working to fix it. Original Post: I know many readers are signed up to...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 22, 2009; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Advisories , Metro  
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Lane closures this week for Dulles Corridor Metro construction

Two right lanes on southbound Route 123 (Chain Bridge Rd.) toward International Drive in Tysons Corner will close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from tonight through July 25, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced. Construction crews are installing equipment for the Dulles Metro expansion. There are other scattered delays through the week in that area, including a frontage road. During the day this week, the right turn lane before Colshire Dr. on northbound Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123) will close for a few hours during the day. For more information on these and other delays in the area, read the press release....

By James Hohmann  |  July 22, 2009; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Some Metro Riders Switching Travel Patterns

Have you changed your travel habits since the Metro crash a month ago? It was part of my online discussion Monday, and I invited readers to tell me more. The comments I've received rarely express concerns about safety on the trains. Most express annoyance at the delays and crowding. These are among the responses, which include stories about changing travel times, changing routes or changing from transit to driving. Van Ness: I live on top of the Van Ness-UDC Red Line station. My work day used to start at 9 am (getting off at Gallery Place), but because I couldn't get on a train from June 22 to July 2 at Van Ness-UDC, I switched my hours to begin at 8 am. Thankfully my employer allowed the change. Now, I can get on a car at 7:15 to 7:20 am and get to work on time. It was a riot...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 22, 2009; 8:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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More Change on Beltway Near Wilson Bridge

It's hard to keep up with the changes in the maze of ramps and lanes that make up the Capital Beltway and its interchanges near the Wilson Bridge in Virginia. This is the latest from the project: The ramp from southbound Telegraph Road to the Beltway's inner loop has been temporarily realigned. This will make room to rebuild parts of the ramp where the Beltway is being widened. The S-shaped ramp accommodates one lane of traffic. No date has been set for an end to the temporary realignment. Use extra caution as you get used to the new setup....

By Robert Thomson  |  July 21, 2009; 9:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  | Tags: Capital Beltway, Dr. Gridlock  
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Reader Proposes Solutions to Washington Traffic

Do you agree with this set of ideas from a D.C. driver, or would you like to add any of your own? Dear Dr. Gridlock: On Thursday last [July 16], it took 45 minutes to drive to 1825 18th St. NW from 700 7th St. SW. I left at 9:15 a.m. There were no accidents, closed streets, or any other unexpected delays. Just plain traffic congestion. What can the city do to lift the traffic curse? I thought of several possible solutions. Here they are: 1. Build a municipal underground parking garage under the site of the old convention center and a park above it. This would give us beauty and our own mini Central Park. 2. Require that all deliveries be made before 8 a.m., except perhaps for FedEx and UPS. 3. Crack down on cars that are double-parked with flashing lights to pick up dry clearing or the...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 21, 2009; 9:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Congestion , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, letter, traffic  
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Metro Asking About Two Bus Lines

The transit authority asked for riders' suggestions before it revamped service on the 70s line in 2007 and the 30s line in 2008. Now, it's asking for their views on how the new service is working out. There are three sessions, starting tonight, and each will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tonight: 30s Line Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, 3000 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Tuesday: 30s Line St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St. NW Wednesday: 70s Line Emery Recreation Center, 5701 Georgia Ave. NW...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus  
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Less Rest For Highway Travelers in Virginia

The closing of 18 highway rest areas in the commonwealth starts tonight. Drivers will see orange barrels at the entrance and exit ramps to these former facilities. In Northern Virginia, that means no more stopping at the Dale City areas on Interstate 95. The Manassas rest area on I-66 eastbound also is closing tonight. The one on the westbound side, which also is a Welcome Center for tourists, gets a temporary reprieve, but only to serve out the summer vacation season. That area will close on Sept. 16. The rest areas at Dale city for truckers will remain open. The Virginia Department of Transportation says they are heavily used and there are few alternatives for truckers in the area. This is all part of a state plan to address VDOT's budget shortfall. It's probably the aspect of the budget cutting plan that has gotten the most attention, but there's also...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Driving , highways  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, VDOT, Virginia rest areas, interstates, summer travel  
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Traffic Alert: Belmont Ridge Rd. Blocked

Northbound Belmont Ridge Road is closed at Creighton Road in Loudoun County after an accident. Police are alternating traffic using the southbound lane. Motorists are advised to seek other routes. Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes...

By Mike McPhate  |  July 20, 2009; 1:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving  
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Join Me at Noon For Online Chat

Our weekly gathering to discuss local traffic and transit is at noon today. The two big topics I've been hearing about during the past week are the Red Line -- still -- and the new traffic configuration on the Beltway's outer loop at the Eisenhower Connector. Our discussion is never limited to a couple of topics. Travelers have a wide range of interests that include best vacation routes, solutions to local traffic congestion and how to provide more transit options. Walkers and bikers are welcome, too. I've got a letter from a biker I'm hoping to get some help with. Jodi Williams of Alexandria writes: "I started riding my bicycle once or twice a week from my home along Franconia Road to my office in Georgetown this May (14 miles each way). Until recently, that is. The pedestrian/bicycle passageway at the Eisenhower Avenue connector has been closed for construction associated...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Biking , Driving , Safety , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, online discussion  
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Metrorail Construction Now on Dulles Access Road

Construction of the Metrorail extension through Tysons is now reaching out to the western part of the route, along the Dulles Access Road. Drivers can see the early stages of the work between the Access Road and the Toll Road from Hunter Mill Road to the Reston Parkway. This phase involves relocation of the utilities along the route, clearing of trees and brush and preparation for construction of the Wiehle Avenue station, on the west side of the avenue. That's the end point for phase 1 of the project, which in phase 2 will stretch to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County. Work on the station's foundation will begin later this year. The work in Tysons along Routes 123 and 7 is much more difficult, because of the terrain, streets and buildings. The Access Road part is relatively easy. Still, there may be some lane closings out that way as...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 9:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction , Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Rail to Dulles, Tysons  
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Red Line Still Slow This Week

Metro says that riders should expect fewer and slower-moving rush hour trains at least through Thursday morning's rush hour. The National Transportation Safety Board, which was out in the crash zone most of the day on Saturday is continuing its investigation. The investigators don't know why the track circuit in that area failed to detect the train that had stopped, and therefore failed to prevent the oncoming train from striking it. Until they figure out what it will take to safely send a train through that area between Takoma and Fort Totten, only one train at a time goes through. And that slows the entire Red Line. The transit authority suggests adding at least a half hour to normal travel times. The thing is, your experience can vary a lot. You might have a ride that's close to normal. Then the next time, it's crowded and slow. The normal turnbacks...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 20, 2009; 5:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Red Line Back on Track Today

It's open all the way all day Sunday. The closed stretch between Fort Totten and Takoma reopened at 7 p.m. Saturday, after National Transportation Safety Board investigators did their sight testing along the tracks in the June 22 crash zone. But all the line continues to be affected by a slowdown between Takoma and Fort Totten. Investigators still don't know why the track circuit in the crash zone malfunctions from time to time, as it did on June 22. Because of that, Metro sends only one train through the area at a time in either direction. That creates a backup on the rest of the line, and the transit authority says riders should add a half hour to their normal travel times. That situation is likely to continue during the work week. Nationals Game Today It starts at Nationals Park at 1:35 p.m. There's likely to be crowding on the...

By Robert Thomson  |  July 19, 2009; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Metro  
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