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Get There: November 15, 2009 - November 21, 2009

Update: Normal service resumes on Green and Yellow lines

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Totally normal service resumed at about 3 p.m., according to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates, after smoke on tracks near the Gallery Place station. A preliminary investigation reveals that a burning insulator caused the smoke, Gates said. No one was injured, and the smoke has completely dissipated. ORIGINAL (2:27 p.m.): Smoke in a tunnel means no Green or Yellow Lines service between L'Enfant Plaza and Mt. Vernon Square. Shuttle bus service is being established between the L'Enfant, Archives-Navy Memorial, Gallery Place-Chinatown, and Mt. Vernon Metro stations. The first report, of smoke at Gallery Place, came in about 1:45 pm, according to Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates. "We don't know what the cause of the smoke is yet," Gates said. DC Fire crews are on scene, along with Metro Transit Police....

By James Hohmann  |  November 21, 2009; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Update: Two lanes reopen on outer loop from 50 to 202

UPDATE (2:48 p.m.): All lanes have reopened on the Outer Loop, according to Lora Rakowski from the Maryland State Highway Administration. The road is clearing up, but motorists should still expect slight delays from residual backups. UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): Two left lanes of the Outer Loop, between US 50 and Route 202, have reopened after being closed for nearly three hours. Lora Rakowski from the Maryland State Highway Administration said that two right lanes remain closed as crews conduct their investigation. A detour was lifted, but traffic stretches back to about MD-214, approximately five miles. Expect delays if traveling through the area. Rakowski could not estimate when all lanes will return to service. ORIGINAL POST (12:38 p.m): All lanes on the Outer Loop of the Beltway between US 50 and Route 202 are closed while police investigate a multi-vehicle collision that ended a police chase about 11:20 a.m., authorities said....

By James Hohmann  |  November 21, 2009; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Traffic Alert: Outer loop closed near Landover Rd. in Md.

A major accident has closed the outer loop of the Beltway near Landover Rd. in Md. Police and medevac are on the scene....

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 21, 2009; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Headaches on the horizon

Beltway HOT lanes: Beginning Friday night, northbound and southbound traffic on the Capital Beltway will shift left approaching the Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) interchange. Beltway lanes in this area will narrow so workers can safely demolish and rebuild parts of the roadway and the bridges over Route 50. This traffic pattern will remain for 12 to 18 months. All lanes on the inner loop (I-495 North) will be closed by 11 p.m. Drivers will be directed to the exit ramp lanes for Route 50. They will continue through the ramp lanes to get back onto I-495 North. All four lanes will reopen by 7 a.m. Saturday. The traffic shift for I-495 north will begin near the Gallows Road interchange heading towards Route 50. On Saturday night, all lanes on the outer loop (I-495 South) will be closed by 11 p.m. Drivers will be directed to the exit ramp lanes for...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 20, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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D.C. transportation chief's chat is illuminating

Entrepreneur-turned-District transportation czar Gabe Klein opined on everything from bike sharing to streetcars during an hour-long online chat Friday, the first in a monthly series of chats he plans on transportation topics. Klein took questions and requests from the public for more than an hour. Some people wanted more tree boxes on public sidewalks; others complained about unrepaired utility cuts; another asked when streetscape improvements to Pennsylvania Avenue SE would start (within the next month). It's clear that Klein has a host of innovative projects on his plate to enhance biking, parking and walking and to get traffic moving faster in the city. Funding and bureaucracy could slow some big projects, like the ambitious network of eight streetcar lines the Fenty administration envisions covering 37 miles along K Street through downtown, H Street and Benning Road, Georgia Avenue/14th Street/Seventh Street, and Rhode Island Avenue/U Street. For a text of...

By Washington Post Editors  |  November 20, 2009; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Biking , Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving , Transportation Politics , transit  
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The weekend and beyond

There's a big traffic shift coming in the Rockville area, a Saturday morning walkathon in downtown Washington and a parade in Silver Spring. You'll find details below about these and other weekend events that might affect your travels, plus a look ahead to next week. Montrose Parkway section opening The big traffic change is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Friday, and the work will continue till about noon Saturday. (The result will be improved access to Randolph Road from I-270, but avoid the area while the traffic shift is underway.) This is what will happen: -- Drivers from the west who are heading along Montrose Road for Randolph Road will be directed off to the right near Tilden Lane onto Montrose Parkway. -- The Montgomery County Department of Transportation will open the last segment of Montrose Parkway West between East Jefferson and Old Georgetown Road. So eastbound traffic on...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 20, 2009; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The Weekend and Beyond  
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Today's read: radio traffic guru's 30th anniversary

Bob Marbourg steers listeners through traffic: Despite all the hardware, Marbourg will tell you that the greatest recent advance in traffic reporting is the cellphone. He has a network of dozens, maybe hundreds -- he's never really counted -- of commuters who phone in real-time tips about delays, accidents and the like. (Paul Farhi) Marbourg's desk has banks of scanners and traffic camera displays. That's all backup. He spends the 10 minutes between traffic reports listening to drivers calling in from the roads. When he starts his report, he doesn't read from notes. He's got this road network in his mind. Marbourg says he knows more about the current condition of traffic from sitting in his studio and taking drivers' calls than he would have in the days when he was flying over the roads. On Marbourg's station, WTOP, Adam Tuss has been doing a series of reports marking his...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 20, 2009; 8:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Driving  | Tags: Bob Marbourg, Dr. Gridlock, Today's Read  
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Accident Closes I-66 Lanes At Beltway

[This post has been updated] 6:30 A.M. UPDATE: All lanes are now open and cleared. Traffic is still backed up to Nutley Street -- about 2 miles -- which is fairly typical of the morning rush hour commute on I-66 East. As for what happened: A tractor-trailer hauling produce hit a jersey wall set up as part of HOT construction on I-66 at the Beltway, according to Trooper B.J. Burns of the Virginia State Police. Troopers arrived on the scene at 3:15 a.m. and found that while none of the cargo was spilled, the driver's fuel tanks had ruptured and approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto the through lanes of I-66 East, Burns said. The lanes exiting to 495 North and South were unaffected; the lanes continuing on 66 to Arlington and Washington were the ones impacted. So there was heavier-than-usual traffic for regular Beltway commuters, since drivers...

By Mark Berman  |  November 20, 2009; 5:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Headaches on the horizon

Beltway HOT lanes: One lane will be closed on the I-495 South exit ramp to I-395 North overnight while workers reinforce the steel beams for the High Occupancy Toll lanes project....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 19, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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Metro to postpone SmartBenefit changes

The changes that would have affected transit benefits for many thousands of riders will be delayed for a year, according to Metro officials. The revisions, which caused widespread confusion among riders and among the employers responsible for administering the benefits, were to take effect in January. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. had signaled that the transit authority was rethinking whether to go ahead. During an online chat Nov. 6 on Metro's Web site, he said: "Over the past couple of weeks, we have heard a lot of comments from customers about this change in SmartBenefits. I've decided that we need to rethink the changes that we are making." This morning, the iMetro blog reported that Catoe had said at a Wednesday night meeting in Prince George's County that the changes would be postponed. The transit authority said the changes were necessary to comply with IRS guidelines on how...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 19, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, SmarTrip, SmartBenefits  
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Va. Beltway traffic shift this weekend

The transportation project having the biggest impact on travelers this fall is the HOT lanes construction along the western side of the Beltway in Virginia. This is so despite the fact that through lanes are not blocked during peak travel periods. Here's the latest advisory from the Virginia Department of Transportation: Beginning Friday night, northbound and southbound traffic on the Capital Beltway will shift left approaching the Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) interchange. Beltway lanes in this area will narrow so workers can safely demolish and rebuild parts of the roadway and the bridges over Route 50. This traffic pattern will remain for 12 to 18 months. Work schedule On Friday night, all lanes on the inner loop (I-495 North) will be closed by 11 p.m. Drivers will be directed to the exit ramp lanes for Route 50. They will continue through the ramp lanes to get back onto I-495 North....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 19, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , Weekend Work , highways  | Tags: Capital Beltway, Dr. Gridlock, HOT lanes  
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Today's read: a holiday driving prediction

More driving this holiday season: That's what AAA predicts. The travel organization pointed to a longtime trend in which air travel continues to decline as a percentage of total Thanksgiving travel. Since 2000, the number of Americans traveling by air during the Thanksgiving weekend has dropped 62 percent. (Sholnn Freeman) I'm writing up some suggestions about the holiday getaway for drivers, to appear on Sunday's Commuter page in The Post, and I plan to post some blog entries combining the advice I get from travel experts and officials with the advice I've gotten from you. I collect the getaway advice you send to me at drgridlock@washpost.com, here on the blog and on our new discussion group, called Taken for a Ride. The holiday time drives get to be something of an obsession with me and my readers. I get inquiries all the time about best routes and best times to...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 19, 2009; 8:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Today's Read  
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Morning delays

In Virginia: Overnight lane closures on I-95 and the Beltway are cleared up. But I-66 is predictably sluggish. I-95 North in Occoquan and Dale City is brimming with delays, too. In Maryland: I-95 at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (Prince George's County) has inner loop lane closures, though traffic is easing up as the morning rush kicks off. And a disabled car on I-495 Inner Loop at Colesville Road could also lead to delays [6:50 A.M. UPDATE: This has been resolved]....

By Mark Berman  |  November 19, 2009; 6:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Headaches on the horizon

Dulles Metrorail construction: Lane closure scheduled for tonight on the Dulles Toll Road (route 267) has been canceled. I-95 Widening: Three miles south of the Fairfax County Parkway exit (Exit 166), VDOT is closing several lanes on southbound I-95 to allow workers room to hang steel beams for the additional lane over Pohick Creek, one half mile north of the Lorton Road exit (Exit 163). One right lane of southbound I-95 will be closed at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, followed by another at 10:30 p.m. The lanes will reopen by 5 a.m. Overnight, one southbound lane will remain open to all traffic. The HOV lanes will remain open to southbound traffic until 1:30 a.m. (They normally close to southbound traffic at midnight.) Beltway HOT lanes: Capital Beltway Exit 57) from I-495 south (outer loop) to I-395 North will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 5 o'clock Thursday morning so workers can...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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A commute home, captured on camera

See if you can pick out which roads our driver takes in the video submission we received response to my previous posting, called Your traffic and transit nightmares. I missed the first road and the last road. Should have gotten them all. They're not obscure roads. The driver's route is speeded up on the video -- at least I hope so. So it does take a while to pick out the landmarks along the way, as well as the road characteristics. There's a full list of the roads at the end of the video. (Good choice of music to commute by, too.) Tell me what else they illustrate about driving in the Washington region, and consider submitting your own travel nightmares via video as well. I couldn't help but tense up every time the driver had to stop, either because the highway lane had come to a halt or because...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2009; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, YouTube, user video  
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Rail project work scheduled for I-66

The Dulles Metrorail project has scheduled some nighttime work along I-66, starting Friday, but will pull the plug on construction for a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Here's the schedule. All work will occur between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless it says otherwise. Westbound I-66 -- Friday night into Saturday morning, workers will close the middle and right through lanes for restriping. When those lanes reopen, the left lane will close. The work should be done by 9 a.m. Saturday. -- The left through lane of westbound I-66 will close again overnights starting as early as Sunday. The work -- concrete barrier placement -- is to be finished by overnight Tuesday. Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) flyover to I-66 -- The right through lane of the eastbound Dulles Connector Road flyover will close for barrier placement as early as Sunday night, and then again on Monday night....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Dulles Rail  
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Public Meeting Tonight on NY Ave Projects

The District Department of Transportation plans to hold a public meeting about the upcoming string of projects that will slow travel on New York Avenue NE. (See our Commuter page feature on their impact or see the DDOT Web site, www.fixingnewyorkave.com.) The session, where you will be able to comment on the plans as well as learn about how they will affect you, is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the McKinley Technology High School Auditorium, 151 T Street NE. There's parking at McKinley. The closest Metro station is New York Avenue, on the Red Line....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, New York Avenue  
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Today's read: Montgomery likes light rail, not tolls

Corridor Cities Transitway: The Montgomery County Council endorsed building a light rail line and adding two reversible highway lanes to ease traffic congestion along the Interstate 270 corridor. (Katherine Shaver) Tolls too high, says council: It's just a recommendation, but the Montgomery council also is writing to the Maryland Transportation Authority saying the toll rates proposed for the Intercounty Connector would be too expensive for many motorists and would leave the highway with too few users to justify its costs. (Katherine Shaver) The 60-day public-comment period on the toll plan ends at 5 p.m. Monday. Comments can be submitted on the project's Web site, at www.iccproject.com or sent by mail to: ICC Project Office re: ICC Tolls 11710 Beltsville Drive Suite 200 Beltsville, MD 20705...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 18, 2009; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Transportation Politics , highways , intercounty connector , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Today's Read  
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Headaches on the horizon

HOT lane closings: On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, VDOT will close the Capital Beltway outer loop (I-495 South) exit ramp to I-395 North from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. to allow crews to install steel beams for a new bridge at the Springfield interchange. Detour Route: From I-495 South, exit onto I-95 South to Exit 166A, the Newington-Fairfax County Parkway (Route 7100) exit. Motorists should follow detour signage around the exit ramps back to I-95 north and continue onto I-395 North. This is likely to add 10 to 15 minutes onto a trip....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 17, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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Join discussion on getaway routes

Over on our new transportation forum, called Taken for a Ride, I'm asking for travelers to help me help other travelers. Please come over and offer your advice about alternatives to the main escape routes from Washington, the best times to travel and what drivers should look for along the way. On the long, winding holiday road again. I do this every fall: Collect advice from experienced travelers, combine it with my own recommendations and offer the combined wisdom here on the blog and on the Commuter page in The Post Metro section. See last year's edition here....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 17, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Taken for a Ride  
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McPherson Square Reopened

The McPherson Square Metro station reopened at 5 a.m. this morning. It was closed overnight after a man was struck and killed by a train last night....

By Mark Berman  |  November 17, 2009; 6:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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New section of Montrose Parkway set to open

This should begin to untangle a big bottleneck in North Bethesda: Eastbound Montrose Parkway between East Jefferson Street and Randolph Road is scheduled to open over the weekend. Drivers coming from the west -- from I-270, for example -- will travel east along the parkway and pass under Rockville Pike to reach Randolph Road Parkway to pass under pike. (MCDOT) Meanwhile, drivers heading north on Rockville Pike will find a new ramp leading to Randolph Road. This is part of the Maryland State Highway Administration's reconstruction of the Rockville Pike/Montrose Road/Randolph Road junction, and it's also part of Montgomery County's Montrose Parkway West project. Ultimately, the Montrose Parkway will link I-270, Rockville Pike and Veirs Mill Road. In the current round of this controversial program, the big traffic change is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Friday, and the work will continue till about noon Saturday. (This would be a...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 17, 2009; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Maryland State Highway Administration, Montgomery Department of Transportation, Montrose Parkway, Rockville Pike  
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Headaches on the horizon

Telegraph Road ramp closings: Monday through Friday this week, from 9 p.m. to 5 o'clock the next morning, the Wilson Bridge project will close some ramps at the Capital Beltway's Telegraph Road interchange. -- Inner loop (I-95/495 South) ramp to Telegraph Road South. Detour: Traffic heading for Telegraph Road South should use the ramp to Telegraph Road North to Pershing Avenue, then take a right Stovall Street and a left on Mill Road to Telegraph Road South. -- Telegraph Road North ramp to the inner loop (I-95/495 South). Detour: Traffic heading for the inner loop should take Huntington Avenue East to Route 1 North to the inner loop. Later this week, watch for intermittent ramp closings in the Telegraph Road exchange during the daytime, but not during morning and afternoon rush periods....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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Your Traffic and Transit Nightmares

I recently asked my readers in my new Taken for a Ride forum to share their worst commuting nightmares. Now I want video proof. Watch my call to action below and submit footage of your own personal commuting hell. Remember: safety first, don't shoot and drive! $(function () { var ytd = new Ytd(); ytd.setAssignmentId("6"); ytd.setCallToAction("callToActionId"); var containerWidth = 350; var containerHeight = 550; ytd.setYtdContainer("ytdContainer", containerWidth, containerHeight); ytd.ready(); });...

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  November 16, 2009; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Commuting , Driving , Weather , transit  | Tags: Robert Thomson, YouTube, user video  
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New schedule for some work Dulles rail work

Last week's rain messed with many construction schedules. Here's a revised version of some work planned as part of the Metrorail extension through Tysons. Route 123 Beginning at midweek, motorists should expect a traffic shift of the northbound lanes of Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123) between Anderson Road and the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) overpass. This shift will move lanes approximately eight feet to the east around a work area, and is scheduled to last four to six weeks. In the southbound lanes of Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123): Watch for a right-lane closure till 3:30 p.m. today from 300 feet north of Scotts Crossing Road to Capital One Drive Route 7 Tonight on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) West, from 9:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., the left through lane will be closed from Spring Hill Road to Tyco Road. Tonight on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) East from 9:30 p.m....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2009; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Dulles Rail, Tysons  
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Join me for chat on traffic, transit

We'll have our regular weekly discussion at noon. Bring your thoughts on driving, riding transit, cycling and walking around the Washington region. Here's the link to the discussion. Use this one if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2009; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Watch for bikers at 15th Street intersections

Bike lane on 15th Street NW is innovative idea that doesn't look best when wet. (Thomson) In my Sunday column, I wrote about the new protected bike lane on 15th Street NW. The protected lane is for southbound cyclists. The rest of the street is one-way northbound in this area. Many people -- including me -- were focusing on it for the first time last week, and it certainly wasn't looking its best in the heavy rain and wind, which covered it in wet leaves. (I took the pictures on Friday.) The reviews I've heard so far have been mixed, but I think experiments like this are worthwhile and should be encouraged. Across the region, we've dug ourselves a deep hole by failing to advance our transportation systems into the 21st century. Transportation departments need to use the resources they have creatively -- in ways large and small --...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2009; 10:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Biking , Driving , Safety  | Tags: 15th Street bike lane, DDOT, Dr. Gridlock  
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The week ahead for traffic and transit

As you face the coming week, it may be helpful to know about these potential delays -- and opportunities. Normal ride on VRE's Fredericksburg Line VRE announced Sunday evening that it plans to operate full service on the Fredericksburg Line on Monday. VRE had been warning riders to expect limited and slow service along that route for the entire day because CSX would be working on the line. But CSX told the rail service it would finish its weekend-long work Sunday evening. As a result, VRE says, trains will be able to operate normally. So VRE will run its full schedule on the Fredericksburg Line and does not anticipate any delays. Manassas Line trains also will operate on their full schedule. Metro garage opening The new parking garage at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station opens at 5 a.m. Monday. The four-level structure holds 333 vehicles. It replaces a surface parking...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 16, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The Week Ahead in Traffic and Transit  
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VRE now plans full service Monday

VRE announced this evening that it plans to operate full service on the Fredericksburg Line on Monday. VRE had been warning riders to expect limited and slow service along that route for the entire day because CSX would be working on the line. But VRE now says that CSX has told the rail service it expects to finish its weekend-long work Sunday evening. As a result, VRE says, trains will be able to operate normally. So VRE will run its full schedule on the Fredericksburg Line and does not anticipate any delays. Manassas Line trains also will operate on their full schedule....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 15, 2009; 5:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, VRE  
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