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The weekend and beyond

Holiday shopping is likely to be the main generator of traffic congestion this weekend, but watch out for work along the Interstates and on Metrorail. The coming week also promises to be quite busy, even though the construction season is winding down with the colder weather.

Metrorail weekend delays
Red Line: Trains will share a track between Medical Center and Grosvenor from 8 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing Sunday. Add at least 20 minutes to a normal trip time, Metro said. Every other train in the direction of Shady Grove will end its run at Friendship Heights and return to Glenmont.

Orange Line: Trains will share a track between Cheverly and Stadium-Armory from 9:30 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing Sunday. Add at least half an hour to a normal trip time.

Metrobus detours
From 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 12, Metrobus routes C2 and C8 will be rerouted around a University of Maryland roadway repaving project that will close Campus Drive between Regents and Union drives.

A guide to Metro announcements
Metro routinely puts out a schedule advising riders when to expect delays because of nighttime track work. It's very helpful. Except when it's not. Turns out Metro's schedule is like the Pirate Code: More what you'd call guidelines than actual rules.

Work can start ahead of time if crews are in place early. That's a last-minute decision, and Metro would send out a last-minute alert about it. So you'd better be watching for last minute alerts.

Va. Beltway Friday night
On Friday night, Dec. 11, a traffic shift is scheduled at Exit 50 on I-495 north, and at the on-ramps from Route 50 west to I-495 north. The shift will remain in place for six to eight months to allow for new bridge construction as part of the Beltway HOT lanes project. This is likely to cause delays approaching the area at peak travel times.

When this process gets underway at 9:30 p.m., crews will begin to re-stripe the pavement. This won't require lane closings. The new traffic pattern will be in effect by 7 a.m. Saturday, if the schedule holds. The exit ramp traffic shift for I-495 north will begin near the Gallows Road interchange heading toward Exit 50, Arlington Boulevard (Route 50). The on-ramp merge from Route 50 west and Fairview Park to I-495 north will also be reconfigured.

Sports events
It's a light schedule this weekend. Traffic delays are likely around the Verizon Center in Chinatown. The Capitals play at 7 p.m. Friday and the Wizards play at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Road work in Tysons Corner
The southbound exit ramp from the Beltway's outer loop (I-495 south) to southbound Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) will close overnight Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11-12. The ramp will be closed between 11 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. each night, so crews can relocate barriers, and stripe and pave asphalt as part of the Dulles Metrorail project.

Drivers will have these options to reach southbound Chain Bridge Road:
-- Use the exit to northbound Chain Bridge Road toward McLean.
-- Remain on the exit ramp and use the on-ramp to northbound I-495 (inner loop).
-- From northbound I-495, use the exit to southbound Chain Bridge Road.

Parade of Lights in Annapolis
Here's one holiday event that will have an impact on traffic this weekend: Because of the Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 12, the Spa Creek Compromise Street bridge will be closed for 15 minutes at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

I-95 north work on Saturday
This coming week, the Virginia Department of Transportation hopes to open a portion of the new fourth lane on Interstate 95 north between Route 123 and the Fairfax County Parkway. But first, it needs to take maximum advantage of the warmer daylight hours for paving.

On Saturday, if weather permits, one northbound lane between the Route 1 on-ramp and the Fairfax County Parkway will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for paving. That's the portion of the northbound lane that should open next week.

Beltway HOT lanes next week
Beginning on Thursday night, Dec. 17 through Saturday morning, Dec. 19, and again on Monday night, Dec. 21 through Thursday morning, Dec. 24, all four lanes on I-495 south at the Lee Highway (Route 29) overpass will close for up to half an hour several times from midnight to 5 a.m, VDOT says. The temporary closures will allow crews to install steel beams for a new bridge over the Beltway that is part of the HOT lanes project.

The I-66 east and west exit ramps to I-495 south will also close all night beginning at 11 p.m. on those nights, and motorists will be detoured. Lane closure setup on I-495 south will occur at 9:30 p.m. and as traffic volumes decrease, additional lanes will be closed. All lanes will close for up to half an hour after midnight until 5 a.m. Motorists should expect lane closures on I-495 north and the Lee Highway overpass for crews to stage equipment and materials, VDOT says.

Escalators at Dupont Circle
An escalator between Q Street and the Dupont Circle Station mezzanine that had been out of service since Oct. 26 is operating again, Metro says. Work continues on the other out-of-service escalator in that bank of three on the north side of the station.

More work on the escalators will continue this month, Metro said. Use this link to keep track of all the escalator and elevator outages. Use this link to complain about busted equipment on Metro, or call 202-637-1328.

Dupont Circle's three south entrance escalators at 19th Street and Connecticut Avenue will be replaced completely and all the platform level escalators units rehabilitated beginning in the spring of 2011. That's part of the long-term Red Line rehabilitation project.

New York Avenue delays
A new pedestrian signal on New York Avenue at Bladensburg Road had traffic backed up on Wednesday, before the District Department of Transportation got to work on adjusting the timing.

But that was probably just a taste of the delays that commuters will encounter once two big repair projects on the avenue are working their magic simultaneously. That won't happen till the spring, when reconstruction of the 9th Street NE bridge and the New York Avenue bridge over the railroad tracks begin to have their maximum effect on traffic. The District lists a variety of options for travelers on this Web site: www.fixingnewyorkave.com.

H Street shuttle returning
The District plans to restore the free shuttle bus service along H Street NE, serving the re-emerging neighborhood known as the Atlas District, but I hope its operation will be rendered unnecessary by improvements in the corridor's regular bus line.

Metro's plan to upgrade service on the X buses along H Street and Benning Road is a better solution than a heavily subsidized public-private partnership.

The plan Metro is developing would counter the X problems in these ways:
-- Add a limited- stop service that would speed up travel times to the most popular stops and the transfer points during peak periods. These buses would run every 15 minutes.
-- Use the longer, articulated buses for the X2 to ease crowding.
-- Enhance supervision and improve driver training to improve reliability on the X1.
-- Increase the presence of undercover transit police on the buses and work with the schools to improve the behavior of young riders. Make more extensive use of closed circuit cameras.

Those are among Metro's targets for next fall.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 11, 2009; 9:42 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Comments

"that will close Campus Drive between Regents and Union drives."

There is no Union Drive on campus, it is Union Lane. Also, how will these buses be rerouted? Can we get a map?

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 11, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: TerpsGirl, when I look at the campus map, I see both a Union Drive and a Union Lane coming off Campus Drive. (Did they run out of names?)

This is the UMD map I'm looking at:
http://www.umd.edu/CampusMaps/campusmapspring2009.pdf

But I apologize for not being able to offer a map showing the exact detour route for Saturday.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | December 11, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmm interesting. I guess I always thought of that road in front of Cole Field House as part of Campus Drive still. Anyhow, I was just trying to figure out how far out of the way the bus was being routed to get an idea of how much off schedule it might end up being. C8 is one of my dialy buses. My guess is they will just route it down Stadium Drive on campus.

FYI, there is a Maryland Men's basketball game on campus on Saturday at 4:30pm.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 11, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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