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The weekend and beyond (snow edition)

Airports | Amtrak | Buses | Capital Weather Gang | D.C. snow emergency | Plowing plans | Rails | Snow removal | Live traffic

The weekend is starting early. There may not be any chips left by the time the Super Bowl starts at 6:25 p.m. Sunday. Those grinders who did go to work Friday will create an early -- but light -- rush hour as they mix with the school crowd heading for home before the snow gets really heavy at night.

Road construction delays will not be a problem this weekend. Let's start a few of the issues Mother Nature will have for you, then move on to the delays that are likely next week -- because there will be a next week, no matter how bad things look Friday and Saturday.

Our lucky streak with snow is ending. This is the first storm of the season that will arrive in the middle of a work day. Conditions prevailing during the morning commute are very different from those forecast for the afternoon. Have an alternative route in mind for the drive home. While the snow accumulation should not be a significant problem for drivers before 5 p.m., it's possible that sleet may mix in.

Metro's statement is pretty blunt: "Metro expects that heavy accumulations of snow and ice will hamper its ability to provide safe rail, bus and paratransit service late Friday, Feb. 5, through Saturday, Feb. 6, and likely into Sunday, Feb 7, as the recovery begins."

This is not a night to party in Georgetown and catch a bus or train back to the suburbs. Buses will start to struggle early on. The ones affected first will be the ones that operate on hills or make sharp turns along the way. At some point, Metro will start operating buses only on snow emergency routes. Then it may suspend all bus service, as it did during the December blizzard. The suburban bus lines and the D.C. Circulator follow the same pattern.

You may find the trains crowded in the early afternoon as workers and students call it quits before the snow gets heavy. The big issue will come later, when the snow along the tracks reaches 8 inches and trains risk losing power. At that point, Metro will end service on the above-ground portions of the lines.

If you take a train from the suburbs to the District on Friday night, perhaps going to the 7 p.m. Caps game at Verizon Center, you could get stuck on the way home. On a Friday night, the trains are scheduled to run until 3 a.m. If we reach 8 inches before that, Metrorail will serve the underground stations only.

MARC trains
Here's a last minute adjustment to the Friday night schedule.

Brunswick Line: Train 893, scheduled to depart Washington at 5:15 p.m., has been canceled. The next train to Frederick will be train 895, scheduled to depart Washington at 6:30 p.m.

See information on VRE's Friday service.

Metro weekend delays
[11:23 a.m. update: Metro cancels all weekend track work because of the snowstorm.]

Chain Bridge closing
The weekend-long shutdown of the bridge was postponed for the second weekend in a row because of snow. The work scheduled for two consecutive weekends involves concrete repair and painting, so the crews need good weather. The new schedule calls for the bridge to be shut from 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, to 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, and from 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, to 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 22.

Beltway ramp closing
The Braddock Road/Beltway ramp work that was to begin Friday night and continue through the weekend has been rescheduled for the weekend of Feb. 12. In fact, the HOT lanes project on the western side of the Beltway in Virginia will not have any weekend lane closures.

I-66/Beltway ramps
Of all the reasons to resent what Mother Nature is doing to us, Virginia commuters would put this near the top of the list: The poor weather during this week once again postponed the reconfiguration of the ramps from eastbound I-66 to the Beltway's inner loop. The plan to ease the I-66 traffic congestion in that area has been put off till next Tuesday through Thursday nights (Feb. 9-11), weather permitting.

Lane closing in Tysons
This coming week, the Dulles Metrorail project plans to begin construction of the Tysons East station. It will be located along the northwest side of Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123), between Scotts Crossing Road and Capital One Drive.

The work could begin as early as Monday night. At that point, the right lane of southbound Route 123 between Scotts Crossing Road and the Capital Beltway inner loop will be closed for about two years to create a work area. Of course, the timing depends on the weather, so watch for follow-up advisories here.

During construction, people trying to reach the Capital One building will still have right‐turn lane access to the property's main entrance, but it will be via a shorter right‐turn lane. Both entrance ramps to the Beltway will also remain open.

New bike rider information
A new Web application is available to help with bicycle route directions in the Washington area. Ride the City-DC Metro includes the District, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County and the Maryland suburbs inside the Beltway.

Next weekend on Metro
Almost no amount of snowfall will stop the big maintenance program scheduled for Rosslyn on Presidents' Day weekend, Metro officials say. Check the Commuter page (page 2 of the Metro section) this Sunday for more details, but here are the basics:

  • From Friday, Feb. 12, at 10 p.m. through the train system's midnight closing on Monday, Feb. 15, both the Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations will be shut down for track and tunnel work at Rosslyn. The splits both the Blue and Orange lines in two.

  • The Blue Line will not operate between Pentagon and Foggy Bottom.

  • The Orange Line will not operate between Court House and Foggy Bottom.

  • Metro will provide free shuttle buses to link up the lines.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 5, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Weekend Work  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Next: Metro cancels weekend track work


How much warning will Metro give about closing the above ground stations?

I plan to be downtown for the Caps game, but will need to get home to an underground station. I can monitor the internet from the game, but obviously it won't help me if Metro gives us no warning. Thanks.

Posted by: HeShootsHeScores | February 5, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Can I just say this is how a blog on traffic should be done?

You - as always - are on top of everything, Dr. G.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | February 5, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Given that rush hour has moved to those hours around noon, does Metro have any intention to have rush hour service during the new rush hour?

Posted by: member5 | February 5, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock:

Chasmosaur1, thank you.
HeShootsHeScores, during the December storm, Metro announced at about 11:15 a.m. that it would shut the above ground stations at 1 p.m. -- so about an hour and 15 minutes notice. Still, many people didn't get the word. I'm hoping that as a result of that, Metro managers will add more buffer time between the announcement and the shutdown. Again, the determining factor is when snow along the tracks reaches about 8 inches. Metro knows from experience that this is the point when the trains begin to have power problems.

member5, Metro has not made any announcement yet about afternoon service. I'm asking. But the rush was so light this morning, that Metro planners may not see a need to add trains.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | February 5, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I should also point something else out. They gave about an hour and 15 minutes warning that the outdoor stations would be closing. They gave zero warning that outdoor stations would no longer allow entries though. That's right, as soon as they said outdoor stations closing, the outdoor stations became exit only. Presumably this was to prevent people from getting stuck by taking a train into the city right before it closes and not being able to get out. But if you have intentions of reverse commuting...say taking Metro from downtown out to the suburbs and relying on Metro to get you back might be out of luck.

Posted by: thetan | February 5, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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