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The weekend and beyond

How long will it take us to dig out from the snowstorms? As long as it took to dig the Panama Canal, only without the mosquitoes? Expect to see both heavy and light construction equipment on main roads and side streets this weekend.

Warmer temperatures are helping, but removing the hardened piles of snow still is agonizingly slow. You'll see more and more pavement, but your view of oncoming drivers and pedestrians will remain limited.

Tysons ramp closing
The ramp from southbound Route 123 to the outer loop (southbound I-495) will close from midnight Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday. Traffic will be directed to continue south on Route 123, turn right on International Drive, right on Galleria Drive, right on Tysons Boulevard, then make a slight left onto northbound Route 123 to reach the ramp to the outer loop. This is part of the Dulles Metrorail project.

Metrorail delays
The trains are back on their normal schedule, but so is Metro's weekend track work program. This weekend, it will slow travel on the Orange Line. Riders between New Carrollton and Cheverly should add at least a half hour to the normal trip time while Metro welds rails in that area. Trains in both directions will share a single track through the work zone from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Every other Orange Line train traveling toward New Carrollton will end its run at Cheverly and head back toward Vienna, to keep up service to the most crowded stations on the line.

Chinese New Year
The event most likely to affect traffic this weekend in downtown Washington is the annual Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday afternoon. The Year of the Tiger parade is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Chinatown. Parade participants assemble on I (Eye) Street NW between 5th and 6th streets.

Then they head west on I Street to 7th Street, turn south on 7th to H, go west on H to 8th, south on 8th to G, then east on G to 7th. They turn north on 7the to H, then east on H, disbanding in the 600 block of H Street.

Parking restrictions. No vehicles will be allowed to park on the parade route starting at 7 a.m. Sunday.

Street closings. These closings will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday:
-- H Street NW between 6th and 7th streets until 5 p.m.
-- I (Eye) Street NW between 5th and 7th streets until 3:30 p.m.

These closings will begin at 1:30 p.m. and continue until 3:30 p.m.:
-- 7th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue and G Street
-- G Street NW between 7th and 9th streets
-- 8th Street NW between G and H streets
-- H Street NW between 8th and 6th streets
-- 6th Street NW between Massachusetts Avenue and G Street

Metrobus detours: From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Metrobus Routes 70, 80, P6 and X2 will be rerouted around the parade area.

D.C. street closing
A large construction crane will be operating during the day Saturday on 19th Street NW. That will close the street between C and E streets and require a detour around the area for Metrobus Route 80 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Va. road work delays continue
While some road projects have resumed following the storms, two programs that I've been telling you about still need more time for the snow to melt. One is the weekend work for the HOT lanes project at Braddock Road and the Capital Beltway. The other is the reconfiguration of the ramps from eastbound Interstate 66 to the Beltway's inner loop. Both are now scheduled for the first week of March, weather permitting.

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.

Rest stops reopened
The Virginia rest areas on Interstate 95 in Dale City and on Interstate 66 in Manassas are scheduled to reopen on March 17. Four others reopened this past week: I-81 North Rural Retreat, I-81 South Smyth, I-81 South New Market and I-81 North Radford. All the 19 rest areas that were closed last year to save money will be reopened by April 15.

Fairfax bus surcharge
The Fairfax Connector buses will start charging a fare surcharge the same day Metro adds its surcharge. As of Sunday, Feb. 28, a Connector ride will cost an extra 10 cents. 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.
-- The surcharge will affect transfer costs. A charge will be assessed for passengers paying by SmarTrip card who start their trip on a transit service on which the fare is less than that of the Fairfax Connector.

Transit Link Card price rising
Because Metro is adding the 10 cent surcharge as of Sunday, Feb. 28, 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.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 19, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Construction , Driving , Metro , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Next: Morning traffic roundup


Similar to the mess at I-66 to I-495 north, there is the merge from US-50/Gallows Rd on to I-495 north. There used to be two points of entry, one for west-bound 50 and one for east-bound 50 & Gallows. Now all traffic has to merge into one late and it's causing huge backups, particularly during evening rush, starting around 3 PM.

Are there any plans to fix this mess?

Posted by: member5 | February 19, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I know it's late in the day to post this, but seriously, what's up with MetroBus? I take the D2 to work and somedays it just doesn't show up. I just started riding it in this an ongoing issue?

Posted by: jmacindoe | February 19, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Metrobus continues to have problems on a lot of routes. I have heard several rider complaints about the D2, particularly the Glover Park portion of its route.

Streets that have been made passable for cars are not always clear for buses, especially at intersections where the buses must turn.

As of 3 p.m., Metro does not list the D2 among the many lines still unable to run their normal routes because of the snow. But it's difficult for the bus system operators to keep up with and pass along all the block-by-block problems. That's a part of transit communications that definitely could use some improvement.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | February 19, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Cool. I knew it wasn't running up into Glover Park for a little while, but even before the snow storms did their business, somedays the bus just wouldn't show up. Drives me crazy!

Posted by: jmacindoe | February 19, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Has Metro announced when they plan to do the Rosslyn-closing track work that was originally planned for President's Day weekend?

Posted by: Stevis16 | February 19, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Stevis16, no, Metro has not announced when its going to do that postponed track work project at Rosslyn. It was a major deal to cancel that work, after going through all the organizational difficulties of getting it scheduled. Metro would like to do it on a three-day weekend, but it has to be a three-day weekend when ridership is light. I'm not sure whether Metro will reschedule this one for Memorial Day weekend, or wait till later. As you probably recall, the work is at Rosslyn, but the setup requires that Metro also close Arlington Cemetery Station, and I'm thinking that's not such a good fit for Memorial Day.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | February 19, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"How long will it take us to dig out from the snowstorms? As long as it took to dig the Panama Canal, only without the mosquitoes?"

uh, you people are in deep trouble if it takes you 10 years to dig out.

this from Panama

Posted by: chagres55 | February 19, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

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