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The week ahead for traffic and transit

Drivers and bus riders still face delays getting to and from work because of snow and snow clearing. We heard that I (Eye) Street in downtown Washington was among the problem areas. Many Metrobus routes continue to experience delays and detours. See a list of them here. But as conditions generally improve, some drivers again must deal with road construction.

Station starts
To make room for construction of the Tysons East Metrorail station, part of the new rail line to Dulles, the right lane of southbound Route 123 between Scotts Crossing Road and the Capital Beltway inner loop is scheduled to close for two years starting this week.

The lane closing, which could come as early as Monday, had been postponed because of the snowstorms. Drivers going to the Capital One building will still have access to the right-turn lane to the property's main entrance via a shorter right-turn lane. Both entrance ramps to the Capital Beltway along Route 123 south will remain open.

The part of Route 123 near the Beltway is also a very active work zone for the HOT lanes construction project. Stay alert, and watch the electronic message boards for directions.

Speed limit restored
The speed limit along the Capital Beltway near Telegraph Road is back to 55 mph. The experiment with the variable speed limit is over, because the program behind it expired.

Over the next few weeks, the program's variable message signs displaying the current speed limit will be replaced with standard 55 mph work zone signs. The message boards showing estimated travel times also will be removed.

Fare surcharge
Those green stickers that just appeared on Metrorail's vending machines and fare gates and on the Metrobus fare boxes announce the 10-cent fare surcharge that will take effect this coming Sunday and remain through June 26.

Wednesday through Friday, Metro staffers will hand out brochures at end-of-the-line and downtown rail stations with details about the surcharge. Although the surcharge will go away at the end of Metro's budget year, it probably will be replaced by a regular fare increase that is much higher than 10 cents, as Metro tries to balance its next budget.

Fairfax bus surcharge
The Fairfax Connector buses will impose a fare surcharge of 10 cents next Sunday, the same day Metro adds its surcharge. Here are the details:

The regular base fare will increase from $1.25 to $1.35 if you pay by SmarTrip card and from $1.35 to $1.45 if you pay cash. Fares for seniors and people with disabilities will increase from 60 cents to 65 cents. The surcharge will not be added to the express fares for routes 380D, 595 and 597.

Transit Link price rising
Because Metro is adding the 10-cent surcharge, the cost of Maryland's Transit Link Card will increase by $4 in March. The monthly card allows MARC and MTA commuter bus riders to pay their train or bus fares and to have unlimited use of Metrorail and Metrobus. The price change will now be reflected in the online order forms for the cards.

Metro sales office hours cut
Metro has reduced the hours at four sales offices to save money and help balance its budget. These are the new hours:
-- The Metro Center sales office will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
-- The office at the Northern Bus Division will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
-- The Anacostia office will be open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
-- The Pentagon office will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 22, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving , Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The week ahead  
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