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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 07/02/2012

Heat, dark lights and a holiday: The week ahead for D.C. area traffic, transit

The relative ease of this morning’s commute probably had as much to do with vacation season as with people taking a day off because of the storm. Darkened lights did slow traffic on many commuter routes, but many people who would have been there are now remembering us fondly from beach and mountain resorts.

Many of the darkened intersections are not on major commuter routes, but rather on secondary and neighborhood roads. At such locations, drivers behave in unpredictable ways. Some do the right thing and come to a complete stop, others slow and go, and some just blow through without a look.

It doesn’t matter how many lanes one street has vs. the other. It’s a four-way stop. Try to make eye contact with other drivers and with pedestrians, but above all, use caution and expect the unexpected.

(If you want to vent about this, or talk about other local travel issues, join me at noon Monday for our weekly online discussion.)

Commuter traffic volumes should remain moderate throughout the week. It’s celebration traffic we’ll have to worry about on Wednesday.

Let’s go over some of the highlights of that, along with some of the more routine disruptions that will affect local travel this week.

The Capital Weather Gang says it will stay hot all week, with chances of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

July 4 highlights

On Sunday’s Commuter page in The Post Metro section, I reviewed July 4 traffic and transit issues in some detail, though it’s impossible to address all concerns. Share others with me during the online chat, or write to me at drgridlock@washpost.com.

Driving. On Wednesday, many roadways around the Mall will be closed from early morning until late at night. Parking near the Mall will be very limited. Watch for emergency no parking signs. Look here on the blog for more details about street closings, though I did include some in the Commuter page story.

The High Occupancy Vehicle lane restrictions on I-66 and I-95/395 will be lifted Wednesday. The reversible lanes on I-95/395 will be southbound from 1 p.m. Tuesday until midnight. On Wednesday, the lanes will be northbound from 2 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and southbound from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The lanes will reopen northbound by 3 a.m. Thursday.

Baseball. The Washington Nationals will play the San Francisco Giants at 11:05 a.m. at Nationals Park. Note the unusual start time. There’s more parking around the stadium this year, but there’s also likely to be more traffic on the 14th and 11th Street bridges, on the Douglass Bridge and on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

Folklife Festival. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a series of free outdoor cultural events on the Mall that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors over two weeks. The festival picks up on Wednesday and continues through Sunday. The festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Metrorail. On Wednesday, trains will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight. The transit authority says that near rush-hour service levels will be provided from 6 p.m. to midnight, but for most of the rest of the day, the scheduled will be comparable to Saturday service. Because of the crowding, bikes will not be permitted.

In a change from previous years, the Smithsonian station will be open throughout the day. But it will be available for entries only after the fireworks.

Metrobus. Buses will operate on a Saturday schedule.

MetroAccess. MetroAccess, the paratransit service, will operate on a regular schedule, but subscription trips will be canceled. So riders need to call MetroAccess or use the Metro Web site to make July 4 reservations before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

11th Street Bridge.

The District had hoped to open the new ramp from southbound D.C. 295 to the inbound 11th Street Bridge in time for July 4, but the project manager thinks late July is a more likely target.

Metro weekday track work

There’s no track work scheduled for the July 4 holiday. Here’s the schedule for other weekdays.

Red Line: From 10 p.m. to the midnight closing Monday, trains will share a track between Van Ness and Medical Center. Add about 15 minutes to normal travel times, the transit authority says.

From 10 p.m. to the midnight closing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, trains will share a track between Takoma and Forest Glen.

Orange Line: From 10 p.m. to midnight Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, trains will share a track between East Falls Church and West Falls Church, and between Federal Center SW and Eastern Market. Add 15 minutes to normal travel times.

Blue Line: From 10 p.m. to midnight Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, trains will share a track between Federal Center SW and Eastern Market. (In the same tunnel that the Orange Line uses.) Add 15 minutes to normal travel times.

Green Line: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, trains will share a track between College Park and Greenbelt. Add 10 minutes to normal travel times.

Beltway ramp reopens

The ramp from northbound New Hampshire Avenue to the Capital Beltway’s outer loop in Montgomery County has reopened ahead of schedule.

Since late April, drivers heading for the outer loop had been detoured east on the inner loop before swinging around onto the outer loop to get back to where they started.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, which is replacing the bridge deck that takes the ramp over the Beltway, determined that the ramp wasn’t wide enough to maintain the flow of traffic during this phase of the work. So it set up the now-ended detour. The original schedule had the ramp closed until midsummer.

The overall project won’t be done until fall, but the remaining work can be done without detours, the highway administration said.

Beltway/Telegraph Road

A commuter might think the Beltway is just one extended work zone this summer. On the Virginia side, drivers had their first experiences last week with the new location for the THRU/LOCAL lane split on the outer loop. Because the split has been moved farther west, drivers must choose their lanes sooner.

The two outer loop THRU lanes are in their final configuration, but until July 30, when this work is done, a single LOCAL lane will be open from the split to just past Telegraph Road.

Only those who need to reach Telegraph Road, Route 1 or Interstate 295/National Harbor should use the single LOCAL lane.

On the inner loop, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project continues paving the LOCAL lanes between Route 1 and the Eisenhower Connector. Only one LOCAL lane is scheduled to be open until paving is complete next Monday.

By  |  11:47 AM ET, 07/02/2012

Categories:  Commuting, Metro | Tags:  DC transportation, Metro, WMATA, July 4, DC storm, District Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation

 
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