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Get There: November 22, 2009 - November 28, 2009

Planning your return trip to Washington

You've had your fill of turkey, and Aunt Thelma's pumpkin pie is a distant memory. Before you return to Washington, here are some resources Dr. Gridlock prescribes for help with your travel planning: -- For Virginia, look at www.511virginia.org. -- For Maryland, look at www.chart.state.md.us -- For regional traffic conditions, look at our Traffic page or at TrafficLand.com, which has more traffic cameras. -- Our Capital Weather Gang will keep you up to date on the forecast. -- This is The Weather Channel's page for forecasts along the Interstates. -- The Federal Highway Administration also has a page of Traffic and Road Closure information nationwide. -- The I-95 Corridor Coalition has developed a site containing current traffic information and estimated drive times for major roadways along the East Coast: www.i95travelinfo.net...

By Mark Berman  |  November 28, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  
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Headaches on the horizon

Saturday forecast: Fewer commuters, but still lots of shoppers. And some people, the smart ones, I think, will be on their way back to Washington from their Thanksgiving trips, determined to dodge the congestion we'll see on Sunday afternoon and evening. Road work remains suspended through Sunday. Metrorail's maintenance program also is taking the weekend off, so there will be no delays because of scheduled single tracking....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 27, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the horizon  
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The weekend and beyond

While many are enjoying a long weekend, there's still plenty going on that can affect your holiday time, your commute and your shopping.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 27, 2009; 9:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The Weekend and Beyond  
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Maryland Transit Administration schedule for today

For those of you working or needing to get around in Maryland today: The Maryland Transit Administration will have regular service on local buses, the Metro and the light rail today. There's also no MARC and no commuter buses today. For more information, visit the MTA website....

By Mark Berman  |  November 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  
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Fog delays end at area airports

Dense fog in the Washington area has prompted a ground stop for flights arriving at all three Washington-area airports Thanksgiving morning, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

By Washington Post Editor  |  November 26, 2009; 7:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Weather , holiday travel  
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Headaches on the horizon

Thanksgiving Day traffic: Many people will be making trips of two to four hours for holiday visits, but overall, traffic will be light in most areas. Watch out for I-95 traffic north of Baltimore and southbound approaching the Wilson Bridge on Thursday. The holiday rules regarding lane restrictions and parking apply on Thursday. You won't encounter road construction in the Washington region tonight or through the weekend. The Virginia Department of Transportation will switch the timing on signal lights around 14 big shopping areas in Northern Virginia for the holiday season, starting on Thanksgiving Day. The intention is to limit congestion and maximize traffic flow on the main roads....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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Thanksgiving Day transit schedules

Here's a rundown on the bus and rail schedules for Thanksgiving Day.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 4:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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MARC anticipates afternoon delays

As with VRE, Maryland's afternoon train service could be affected by the CSX freight train derailment south of Washington on Tuesday.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, MARC  
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Cloud cover causing airport delays in Northeast

Spreading weather-related delays in the Northeast are slowing air travel across the country, potentially upending what had been a smooth but busy air travel day.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 25, 2009; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Getaway , holiday travel  
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A traveler's guide to Black Friday

If your big holiday trip amounts to no more than a short visit with nearby relatives, followed by a Friday commute or shopping excursion, there still are plenty of reasons to travel prepared and alert.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Driving , Metro , holiday travel , transit  | Tags: Black Friday, Dr. Gridlock, travel tips  
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Getaway alert: congestion at Bay Bridge

Because of the rain and mist, the two-way traffic operation that normally relieves some peak-period traffic congestion on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is not in effect this afternoon.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Weather delays affect some airports in the East

According to FAA flight data, New York's major hub airports LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty International are currently experiencing weather-related delays of about 30 minutes for arriving planes.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 25, 2009; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , Weather , holiday travel  
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Some VRE trains canceled today

VRE has canceled three afternoon trains, because there is still track congestion following Tuesday's freight train derailment.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, VRE  
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Washington airports prepare for afternoon rush

Washington airports are gearing up for the late afternoon rush, just hours after successfully making it through the heavily trafficked morning departure period.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 25, 2009; 11:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Getaway  | Tags: Airports  
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Airports report smooth morning

All three Washington airports were reporting busy but uneventful mornings. Most flights at Dulles, Reagan National and BWI were reporting on time departures today, and there was ample parking.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 25, 2009; 10:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Airports  
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Driving tips for Thanksgiving Day

Plenty of people will be traveling on Thanksgiving Day, many for trips of two to four hours, with a quick turnaround after a big meal. But with most people off work and the malls closed, traffic overall is light. The holiday driving and parking rules will be in effect.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 9:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Driving , holiday travel , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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I-95 South Knotted Up In Woodbridge

With the long holiday weekend starting today for some people, this is pretty predictable news: I-95 South is packed and congested heading through Woodbridge. That's normal for a holiday weekend. And I-95 North is also packed and slow heading through Lorton, which is normal for the morning commute. So whether you're heading to work or heading out for Thanksgiving, expect these delays....

By Mark Berman  |  November 25, 2009; 7:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Congestion  
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How to survive getaway day

* Driving tips for Thanksgiving Day * Here's your basic survival kit of information for today: Construction zones The Maryland State Highway Administration plans no short-term lane closings until Monday. But the Virginia Department of Transportation doesn't suspend temporary lane closings until noon today. Once they're done, work won't resume till noon Monday. The longer-term construction barriers, lane narrowings and lane shifts, such as those in place for the Beltway HOT lanes and the Intercounty Connector projects, remain where they are. Times to avoid Generally, the peak of the peak -- the getaway time you'd most like to avoid, if possible -- is noon to 8 p.m. today. Traffic will build as students get home from school and adults get off work. Ed O'Keefe says in his Federal Eye blog that some feds will get to take an early dismissal today, starting the holiday early. It's futile to start your...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 25, 2009; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Accident Closes Part Of I-495 in Virginia

An accident on I-495 Northbound at the Braddock Road exit has caused closures and likely delays this morning. The north right lane, entrance ramp and exit ramp are all closed, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. [UPDATES BELOW] 6 A.M. UPDATE: The Virginia State Police said the incident was reported this morning at 3:45 a.m. The accident has closed the service road on the northbound side of I-495. They reported that all other lanes and the exit ramps are open, so they believe traffic should not be impacted that much. 6:35 A.M. UPDATE: Conflicting reports have emerged from the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The Virginia State Police reports that all travel lanes are open and just the service lane is closed. The Virginia Department of Transportation reported that the exit from I-495 North to Braddock Road is closed. And -- from a commuter literally...

By Mark Berman  |  November 25, 2009; 5:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Headaches on the horizon

Route 123 in Tysons: Be very careful traveling south on Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) through noon Wednesday. The right-turn lane to Capital One Drive will be closed so workers on the Dulles Metrorail project can remove poles in the area. Right turns to Capital One Drive will be allowed from the right through lane. Also, the rail project announced, a short stretch of the right lane will be closed between the Capital Beltway off-ramps and on-ramps during the days. At night, there will be numerous closings near Tysons Boulevard and International Drive, because of utility work. Watch for police out directing traffic. Orange cones up: The Maryland State Highway Administration has lifted its short-term lane closings until Monday. The Virginia Department of Transportation will suspend temporary lane closings from noon Wednesday to noon Monday. Peak Thanksgiving traffic: The worst times to escape the Washington area on Wednesday are likely...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the Horizon  
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Holiday schedule affects MTA commuter buses

No buses operate on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, or Friday. On Wednesday, the buses operate on the normal schedule, but there are modifications for the afternoon, because the MTA expects many people will leave work early. Some trips are being doubled up. On those, the second bus will start its trip five minutes after the first bus's regularly scheduled departure time. [Note to Brunswick Line riders: MARC 871 will not operate on Wednesday, the MTA says.] These are the bus routes involved in service changes on Wednesday afternoon: Route 901 - Trips 44, 49, 53, and 59 will not operate. Instead, three buses will run trip 31 (midday). Two buses each will run trips 32 and 33, making all regularly scheduled stops. Route 902 - Trips 30 and 33 will not operate. Instead, two buses each will run trips 18 (midday) and 19, making all regularly scheduled stops. Route 904 -...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 3:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Getaway: crossing Delaware for Thanksgiving

Even if you saw the Commuter page on getaway routes and Monday's online discussion about Thanksgiving travel, I've got some more advice from travelers about getting through Delaware, the bane of so many Northeast trips. The letter below arrived in response to my toll avoidance route, which goes like this: From I-95 north, take Route 279 toward Newark, Del. Take Iron Hill Road on the right. Turn left onto Chestnut Hill Road. Then turn right onto Route 896 (South College Avenue). I-95 will be a quarter-mile down the road. Dear. Dr. Gridlock: I worked in Washington for 20 years and can sympathize with the frustration posed by the Delaware Toll Plaza. I live just a few miles from this expensive impediment to travel and I'd like to offer some local advice. Iron Hill Road straddles the Delaware/Maryland border and receives very little maintenance attention from either one. It is a...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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John Townsend of AAA to offer getaway advice

John Townsend, manager of public and government affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic, will do an online chat at 1 p.m. He can offer advice for holiday travel by car, plane or train. This link will take you to the discussion. Use this one if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 11:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Getaway: more Metrobuses to the airports

Dear Dr. Gridlock: Will Metrobus add additional buses to the 5A and B30 routes this Wednesday and Sunday? The last time I traveled on the B30 during Thanksgiving, people were standing. That seems unsafe to me given that the bus travels on the BW Parkway, not to mention all the starting and stooping because of traffic is not so great on the arms. Katherine Bedard Dupont Circle The two airport buses are very popular during the holidays [see story by Sholnn Freeman], and Metro is indeed adding capacity from Wednesday through Sunday. BWI Take the Green Line to Greenbelt and turn left as you exit the station. You'll find the bus shelter for the B30, the Metrobus direct to BWI. It costs $3.10 with cash and $3 with a SmarTrip card. On Wednesday and Sunday, Metro will put on two additional articulated buses to help meet the high demand. On...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Getaway , Metro , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Getaway: reaching the winter beach

This note came in from a driver bound for the Eastern Shore after he looked at my Commuter page on holiday getaway routes: "Have you ever put together a column or route to Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach or Ocean City using I-95 North to some crossover route heading east over to Route 1 and then going south on Route 1 down to the beach areas? "In other words ... instead of going across the Bay Bridge, go up and around the bay to the beaches. That's where I am heading." I haven't, but on the other hand, I'm not sure I could recommend any such course for someone from the Washington area. Something really bad would have to happen at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to make a holiday trip on I-95 across the top of the bay a worthwhile choice. You could take I-95 to past Newark, Del., the drop...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 10:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Bay Bridge, Delaware, Dr. Gridlock, Eastern Shore  
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Getaway: traveling west of Washington

There was a holiday direction I didn't account for in my Commuter page feature on getaway routes: What if you're heading west through Maryland and Pennsylvania? The issue came up Monday during my weekly online discussion. Washington, D.C.: Over Thanksgiving and again at Christmas, we will be traveling from Richmond, Va. to Breezewood, Penn. (at least this is where we get on the Pa Turnpike ) ... what is our best route? I-95 south of the Beltway always seems to be a parking lot. My first thought was that a driver from Richmond might get onto Route 17 at Fredericksburg and then do one of a couple of things: Take 17 to I-66 to I-81 to I-70 to Breezewood and the Pennsylvania Pike junction, or take 17 to Route 15 to I-70 to Breezewood (and avoid I-81). But then another traveler asked another version of the western trip question. Gaithersburg,...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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The holiday getaway spreads out

WTOP's Bob Marbourg, who is celebrating 30 years of guiding Washingtonians through traffic, was on the air Monday afternoon talking about the holiday getaway. It used to be that everyone left on Wednesday, he said, but "that ended about 10 years ago." Yes, while Wednesday will be very troublesome, particularly from noon to 8 p.m., some people have taken the whole week. Long-distance travelers were mixing with our rush-hour travelers last Thursday and Friday, Marbourg says. Travelers will leave as early as families can be assembled. An important factor is the timing of school closings, and another, of course, is the end of the work day. [Visit our Taken for a Ride discussion group and tell me your ideal getaway day and time.] Many others will clear out today. And some will make their sprint on Thanksgiving Day. Many have accepted the need to diversify into odd hours. They either...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 24, 2009; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving, travel tips  
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Tree Blocks GW Parkway

9:15 A.M.: The tree was cleared just before 9 a.m., the Park Police reported The roadway is cleared in both directions, but there is likely going to be slow-moving traffic on the northbound side for now. 7:50 A.M. UPDATE: The fallen tree is blocking the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway at route 123. Southbound lanes are open. The U.S. Park Police reported that the tree fell on the parkway north of Turkey Run at approximately 6:15 a.m., and either two or three cars were struck by the tree and related debris (no injuries were reported). Officials and park service maintenance crews are on the scene trying to remove the tree. ORIGINAL POST: A fallen tree is blocking George Washington Parkway at Route 123/Chain Bridge Road, possibly in both directions. The tree is believed to have fallen on the northbound side of the parkway....

By Mark Berman  |  November 24, 2009; 7:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Accident Slows Beltway In Maryland

A multiple-vehicle accident earlier this morning on the Beltway is causing delays for drivers as the morning rush picks up. The Maryland State Police reported that two tractor-trailers and six other vehicles were involved in the accident, which took place on the outer loop of the Beltway to the west of Connecticut Avenue. The state police reported to it at 6:50 a.m. 7:30 A.M. UPDATE: There are no lane closures related to this accident, the Maryland State Police reported. Three lanes of I-495/the outer loop were closed due to the accident, but they have reopened and the tractor-trailers have been moved to the shoulder. The tractor-trailers are now waiting to be towed. 8:30 A.M. UPDATE: Everything is cleared from the scene and traffic should be chugging along (well, as best the Beltway during the morning rush can chug along)....

By Mark Berman  |  November 24, 2009; 7:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Headaches on the horizon

Maintenance on Orange Line: Metro riders between Cheverly and New Carrollton should add at least 20 minutes to their normal travel time Monday night through Wednesday and again on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Trains will be sharing a single track around the maintenance area between 9:30 p.m. and the midnight closing each night....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the horizon  
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Metro issues statement on SmartBenefits

The transit authority issued a formal announcement Monday confirming the news that had trickled out Wednesday and Thursday: The changes in the SmartBenefits program have been postponed. SmartBenefits seminars that were to have explained the changes to confused employers so they could explain them to their confused employees have been canceled. "Federal and private employers will receive formal notifications of any further changes," the Metro statement said. The transit authority is asking the IRS for a year's extension on implementing the new system for giving out and monitoring the benefit money. While Metro did the right thing in postponing the changes that baffled many thousands of SmarTrip card users, this whole episode was just plain weird....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 5:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, SmarTrip, SmartBenefits  
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Water main break closes section of Old Glebe Road

Old Glebe Road is closed from North Glebe Road to Tazwell Street due to a watermain break, according to Arlington County authorities.

By Michael Bolden  |  November 23, 2009; 2:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion  | Tags: Arlington  
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Getaway routes: avoiding Delaware's toll

[Join me for our weekly discussion of traffic and transit at noon. We can talk about the Thanksgiving getaway or any other transportation topic that's on your mind. Use this link if you'd like to submit a question or comment in advance.] Travelers have sent in some additional suggestions on how to avoid various problems typically encountered in the holiday getaway traffic. On the Commuter page in the Sunday Post, I offered my some alternative routes you could try this week. but here are a couple more. Dear Dr. Gridlock: I enjoyed your holiday travel column, but I think that there's a better alternative than the 2nd choice you offer for avoiding the Delaware toll. Most of my extended family lives in lower Bucks County, Pa., which is just north of the city of Philadelphia on I-95. Here's how I get there from the Washington area. I live in Arlington....

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, I-95, avoiding Delaware  
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Thinking of Thanksgiving traffic

People cram a lot of traveling into this week, and I'd like to help make their trips safe and as painless as they can be. For the next three days, we'll talk about specific routes and times as well as general concepts governing a successful trip. Let's start with some basics. Don't count on the weak economy keeping people off the roads, or the weak weather forecast. There's never much elasticity in the Thanksgiving getaway. People want to do this, just like you. AAA estimates that nearly a million people from the Washington area will be traveling between Wednesday and Sunday. Thousands of them have heard our warnings about avoiding the peak getaway period, from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday. And thousands more know your shortcut. Thanksgiving construction zones Transportation departments pull up most of their orange cones for the holiday break. Around here, the Maryland State Highway Administration plans...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 9:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Thanksgiving  
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Lengthy repairs for Dupont Circle escalators

Hi, Dr. Gridlock: What up with the Dupont Circle north entrance escalators? Only one of the three has been functional for like a million years (okay, a month and a half). Travis W. Montgomery The District There are always some broken escalators in the Metro system, but the ones I'm getting the most complaints about right now are the unmoving moving staircases at the Q Street NW exit for the Red Line's Dupont Circle Station. This is a heavily used station on Metro's most heavily used line. Relatively few people want to walk up these escalators, even when they're working.The ride up is quite lengthy, giving passengers plenty of time to scan the lines from Walt Whitman etched on the vertiginous heights at the station's mouth. So when more than one escalator is out -- as has been the case for over a month -- thousands of people notice. In...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 8:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Dupont Circle, Metrorail, Red Line, escalators  
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The week ahead in traffic and transit

This will be a complicated week, because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Look here for some advisories about local travel issues over the next three days. I'll do separate posting with Thanksgiving travel advice. (One thing to remember about traffic rules: Thursday is a holiday. Friday is not.) Intercounty Connector Highway crews are scheduled to shift traffic onto the rebuilt Old Columbia Pike Bridge over the Intercounty Connector route from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Construction of the overpass, which is north of Fairland Road, began last year. This is part of the Contract "C" work zone on the ICC, from just west of Route 29 to just east of I-95. The contract is 45 percent complete and scheduled to open late 2010 or early 2011. New pattern at Montrose Parkway Drivers coming from I-270 on Montrose Road and heading east toward Rockville Pike will encounter a new traffic pattern,...

By Robert Thomson  |  November 23, 2009; 6:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Construction , Driving , intercounty connector  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The Week Ahead  
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