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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 09:06 AM ET, 06/11/2012

Beltway lane closings, Rush Plus preparations: the week ahead for traffic, transit

This post has been updated.

The humidity is getting worse as the week starts, and the cold front will bring rain Tuesday into Wednesday, the Capital Weather Gang says. But after that, travelers should encounter pleasant conditions.

The Nationals are away till Friday, when they start a weekend series with the Yankees. (Metro has no major disruptions scheduled for this coming weekend on any particular line, but there will be the kind that requires trains to share tracks. We’ll publish the schedule.)

The Mystics play Indiana at 7 p.m. Friday at the Verizon Center.

Here are some of the traffic and transit concerns that travelers may confront on their way to work or play this week. (Join me at noon today for our weekly discussion of local transportation issues.)

Rush Plus preparations

It’s difficult to go anywhere in the Metrorail system without seeing some sign of the preparations for Metro’s Rush Plus service, even if it’s just a hint, like those stickers attached to the fare gates.

Though the start of the new rush hour service still is a week away, the Metro maps have been switched out and some station signs changed. In redesigning the map for Rush Plus, Metro also took the opportunity to change some station names.

Most of the changes won’t cause any confusion. For example, Navy Yard on the Green Line becomes Navy Yard-Ballpark. The one that might raise issues is NoMa-Gallaudet U, the new name for the Red Line’s New York Avenue station. It’s designed to promote the neighborhood emerging north of Massachusetts Avenue, as well as the nearby university.

Beltway/Telegraph Road

Drivers have been asking about the paving work on the Capital Beltway west of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The basic theme: “Make it stop.” The drivers are experiencing a lane squeeze that has affected traffic flow back to the bridge, and sometimes beyond.

This condition is scheduled to continue till July 1. During these June weeks, only one inner loop LOCAL lane will be open. Drivers on the two inner loop THRU lanes won’t be able to exit at the Eisenhower Connector. Drivers bound for Eisenhower Avenue will need to exit farther west at the Van Dorn Street interchange.

If the weather doesn’t mess with this schedule, all the inner loop work between Route 1 and the Eisenhower Connector will be done by July 2, leaving two THRU lanes and two LOCAL lanes in their final alignment.

If you’ve got friends and family traveling south through the D.C. area on I-95, suggest that they go west on the Beltway and cross the Potomac River on the American Legion Bridge, then continue to the Springfield interchange to rejoin I-95 South

Vans at Shady Grove

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If the public transportation system is supposed to help keep cars off the road, then why is Metro at Shady Grove banning shuttle buses and van pools from nearby corporations from using the Metro stop to drop off and pick up commuters? Makes no sense to me.

— Steve Friedman, Gaithersburg

The vans should once again be dropping off riders at the station after a very short-lived disruption. The situation was first reported by Alison Bryant in our sister publication, The Gazette.

The initial action was taken by a staffer who was responding to safety concerns with non-Metro buses discharging passengers in the middle of active travel lanes, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in an e-mail.

He said the shuttle buses used by King Farms community are too large to use the Kiss & Ride area. A compromise was worked out in which the shuttles will discharge passengers only at the curb, and the shuttle routes will be coordinated so the bus arrivals are staggered.

The community is less than a mile from the Red Line station. Much of the congestion around Metro stations comes from people driving solo just a short distance and then parking all day in the lots and garages. Van services need to be encouraged.

E-ZPass deadline

Tuesday is the deadline for submitting comments about the Virginia Transportation Department’s proposal to charge for E-ZPass accounts.

The department says a monthly account fee of about $1 per transponder will help cover the rising cost of operating the program, which will expand in Northern Virginia later this year with the opening of the 495 Express Lanes. A final decision on the fees is likely by the end of this month.

Comments can be e-mailed to vdotinfo@vdot.virginia.gov or mailed to: Office of Communications — Third Floor/Annex Building, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, Va. 23219.

New York Avenue bridge

New York Avenue NE between Penn Street and Florida Avenue is scheduled to be closed from 10 p.m. Wednesday till 5 a.m. Thursday, then again from 10 p.m. Friday till 11 a.m. Saturday. The work zone for for the long-term rehab project on the bridge over the tracks north of Union Station. Watch for detours and traffic control officers.

U Street project

The District Department of Transportation is starting an improvement project this week on U Street NW, a popular entertainment area in the District. The project, known as a streetscape, involved four-tenths of a mile between Ninth and 14th streets and is scheduled to be done by next spring.

Work will start at Ninth Street and go west a block at a time, one side at a time. The sidewalks will be rebuilt and widened, with new landscaping, and the street will be repaved. Traffic signals and streetlights will be upgraded.

Work hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Work might occasionally be scheduled for Sundays and overnights. At least one traffic lane will be kept open in each direction at all times. Street parking will be restricted in the construction areas, but access to the U Street Metro station and the bus stops will be maintained during the project.

Montgomery County lane closings

These are some of the Maryland State Highway Administration projects with new lane closings this week:

I-270 between I-495 and Old Georgetown Road. Resurfacing each night through Thursday, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., double lane closings possible.

Wisconsin Avenue between Bradley Boulevard and the D.C. line. Resurfacing Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., single lane closings.

River Road bridge over Cabin John Creek. Watch for a traffic shift.

Routes renumbered

Drivers on the Fairfax County Parkway asked about new signs.

Why is the parkway now marked as “286” rather than “7100”?

The sign changes reflect a February decision by Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board that upgraded the status of the Fairfax County, Prince William and Franconia-Springfield parkways to primary roads.

The designation is based on such factors as types of traffic and overall traffic volume, but this isn’t about roadway bragging rights. The designation makes the routes eligible for federal maintenance and improvement funds.

Primary routes get lower numbers, so the Fairfax County Parkway becomes Route 286, the Franconia-Springfield Parkway goes from 7900 to 289 and the Prince William Parkway from 3000 to 294.

Central Avenue bus service

Metro has scheduled a community meeting for Wednesday to discuss service on the Central Avenue Line (C21, C22, C26 and C29) and the Pointer Ridge Line (C28). The team working on the project will offer some preliminary findings about how to improve the service.

The session is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. at the Town of Seat Pleasant Administration Office, 6301 Addison Road, Capitol Heights.

Silver Line hearing

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have scheduled a hearing Wednesday night on the latest version of the plan for Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail project.

This latest version of the project’s environmental assessment includes the plan to relocate the station at Dulles International Airport.

Meanwhile, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors still has to decide whether the county is in or out on picking up part of the cost of extending the Silver Line into Loudoun County.

The Wednesday hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Herndon High School, 700 Bennett St., Herndon. An informational open house will start at 6:30. The hearing will begin with a presentation about the project. A copy of the environmental assessment is available on the project’s Web site.

By  |  09:06 AM ET, 06/11/2012

Categories:  Commuting, Metro, Events, Capital Beltway | Tags:  DC transportation, Capital Beltway, Metro, WMATA, Virginia Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation, District Department of Transportation

 
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