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The weekend and beyond

Snow changes everything. There's little in the way of scheduled work that would delay your D.C. area travels this holiday weekend, but the big cleanup continues.

Progess was slowed somewhat on Friday because the road crews had to compete with a lot more commuters than were out earlier this week. Friday night traffic is very heavy on the main roads. Side roads also continue to present problems because the snow has hardened to the point where plows can't budge it. The road departments have been announcing that they must bring in more specialized equipment to break up these problem spots.

Snow emergency
The District's snow emergency is scheduled to end at 5 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 13). After that time, drivers can park on routes marked with the red and white snow emergency signs. Also, the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission has ended its snow emergency rules for taxicab fares.

Metrorail work canceled
The one break transit riders get this weekend because of the weather is that Metro had to delay the weekend-long track project that would have shut Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations and cut both the Blue and Orange lines in two. So there is no Metrorail track work at all this weekend. (And there's no date set for the postponed work.)

Chain Bridge remains open
This is just a weekend for canceled projects. If not for the snow, drivers would have found Chain Bridge closed all weekend for painting and concrete work. But that closing was delayed for the third time and no new date has been set yet.

Beltway ramp closing
Delayed again: The closing of the Braddock Road ramp to the outer loop, a section of the HOT lanes project in Virginia that would have continued all weekend, has been postponed. They'll try again next weekend, starting Friday night, Feb. 19.

I-66/Beltway ramps
There was one cancellation this week that comes as a downer to drivers who must deal with the traffic congestion on I-66 eastbound at the Beltway inner loop. The Virginia Department of Transportation once again had to postpone the reconfiguration of the two exit ramps that get so congested. The plan is to put the HOV ramp and the general purpose ramp back the way they used to be.

There's so much snow now in that area of the HOT lanes project that VDOT isn't sure when the work will be rescheduled.

Dulles Metrorail construction
This is another big project that caught the big chill this week. Here's the plan for next week.

Presidents' Day Schedule: No lane closures from noon Friday until noon Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Tysons East station: Construction is starting on the station along the northwest side of Dolley Madison Boulevard (Route 123) between Scotts Crossing Road and Capital One Drive.

To begin, the right lane of southbound Route 123 between Scotts Crossing Road and the Beltway's inner loop will be closed. This will last about two years to allow workspace for crews to operate away from traffic.

This closing was scheduled to begin Tuesday, Feb. 15, but because of the snow storm, the start date will have to be reset.

Capital One employees, vendors and visitors will still have right-turn lane access to the property's main entrance via a shorter right-turn lane. Both entrance ramps to the Capital Beltway will also remain open.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 14, 2010; 7:53 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Driving , Metro , Weekend Work , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Next: Weekend driving challenges remain


Has Metro given any time frame for opening the above ground portion of the orange crush in VA?

Posted by: kc47i | February 12, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

2 1/2 hrs to get 10 blocks in dc. The city fenty has let become a 3rd world backroad hole. Every major street has one travel lane and no progress in clearing the curb lanes. This guy need to be fired. No sign of plows, loaders, or backhoes. Just unbelievable. What are these idots doing all day and night? Breaking more plows? What are we up to 40% not working. Pathetic repsonse.

Posted by: espnfan | February 12, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

the D2 line is not on metro's list of bus lines that are still out of service, yet several people were at the Q/Connecticut stop today waiting for a bus to arrive. 40 minutes later, the driver of a 42 bus stopped to tell us he doesn't believe D2 is running. if metro could post an accurate out-of-service bus list on its web site, that would be great. so frustrating.

Posted by: Sarah118 | February 13, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This seems like a rather big-city thing to ask, but I will anyways because it does seem like a constitutive check to this sort of public works failure:

What does the city plan to do when someone sues because the response time of an emergency vehicle stuck without an emergency lane goes from 5 minutes to 45 minutes? It is the city's responsibility to clear emergency routes. And it is more than evident that 'most' emergency routes in the city are barely 2/3 clear by now. I don't see how that's a case they can win.

Posted by: Vanadias | February 14, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm willing to cut the city some slack on the snow-clearing: the snow that's left is mostly rock-hard, which means it'll be really tough to clear. In that situation, there's only so much they can do.

What bugs me is that the city doesn't seem to be doing anything about people who are parking in regular traffic lanes because the usual parking lane is full of snow. Why aren't they ticketing those people? Or better still, towing them? I know that on most streets, you can't park now without parking in a traffic lane, but that doesn't make it legal. And having traffic lanes blocked with parked cars is making the traffic problems much, much worse. And it's an easy problem to fix; just get out there and start ticketing and towing.

Posted by: robwilli | February 14, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm a regular rider of the various 16th Street buses (S2, S4, S9) and came back this evening (Sunday night) from downtown. The state of bus stops remains abysmal, and the most shocking thing of all was realizing that several major stops used by wheelchair-bound regular riders had not been cleared enough to allow for easy, safe access. In fact it's awkward and dangerous even for booted people who go everywhere on foot, so I can't imagine how anyone with even a slight problem is going to manage it.

I noticed that Metobus stops were not cleared in December either (Rockville Pike being just one terrifying example). Granted, we have had record-breaking snow, but why this casual attitude towards safety? Does Metro need a few people to die before it bothers to take any action whatsoever? And where are the maintenance crews at the downtown office buildings?

Posted by: AnotherHagman | February 15, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

In spite of the remaining snow, this should have been an easy commute day. It's a federal holiday, so there are are far fewer people trying to get into the city. And, indeed, there was only very light traffic on 270, and the Shady Grove Metro parking lots were only sparsely occupied. But I was still late getting into work because for some unexplained reason the first train into the station sat there going nowhere for 15 minutes. A second train arrived in the meantime, and remained empty as passengers assumed that the first train in would be the first train to leave. No. The second, and EMPTY train left a full 5 minutes before the first one.

And absolutely no explanation of why. I just want to know WHY. It's not the first time this has happened. It's a regular occurence for trains to sit at Shady Grove for 10 minutes or more. As this is an extremely popular station (3 parking lots and 2 garages which are usually full on any given morning, plus commuter buses, Metro buses and ride-on buses) it makes no sense for Metro to delay trains coming in and out of Shady Grove. Usually the trains are completely full before departing the platform, and as that is only the first of several stop before entering the district, it guarantees overcrowding further down the line.

In spite of it's popularity, Shady Grove continues to be treated as the poor country cousin, unworthy of Metro's full attention. The electronic display boards never function (perhaps because Metro things passengers won't notice how long we're standing there if they don't tell us?), Metro's website, where you are supposed to be able to check for arrival and departure times, is blank for Shady Grove.

All of this is preventable. All of these are things Metro can easily change. So many of the delays are mechanical malfunctions beyond their control, but something as simple as getting the trains into and out of the first station on the line, that is something they can control, something that would make a really big difference. So why is Shady Grove ignored?

I've had some great experiences with many Metro personnel. Drivers who relay constant updates and try to ease the strain. Platform personell and kiosk workers who are responsive. But for everyone one of those, there seem to be two employees who just don't care and know the passengers will just have to put up with it. It's a culture that seems to have permeated the entire Metrorail system. I'm beginning to think that Metro needs more than a new guy in charge. I think they need a clean sweep. I don't see how else they can clear out the apathy and get back on the right track again. Replacing one guy won't do it. And while the infection of apathy is allowed to exist, it will only spread.

Posted by: cb11 | February 15, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Trains sit "idle" at the end-line stations to ensure that they depart at regular intervals. The schedule needs some padding between its arrival & departure, to ensure that delays from the line inbound to Shady Grove have less of an impact on the outbound.

Metro has a finite amount of trains, and they're going to leave Shady Grove at the same intervals, regardless of how long they wait to start their route. If the spacing is 12 mins (or whatever it is now), then they're still going to leave every 12, and the number of passengers sitting on the train when it does depart will be exactly the same - they're all the people that show up in that 12 minute span.

Think about it: if your train departed SG immediately, it means that all those people behind you will get on the next one 12 mins later - making it just as busy. And remember that the train before you also waited ~10 minutes, making your train less (over)crowded. Metro's goal is to have trains arrive at a constant spacing at all downline stations. You're not seeing a delay; it's just spacing.

I can't explain why an empty one would go first, but maybe they needed a train for the busier Grosvenor-SS section.

Posted by: Chris737 | February 15, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

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