Once again, the D.C. region’s transportation departments have put their road work schedules on hold for a long holiday weekend, resuming activity on Tuesday. Metro has no track work scheduled for this weekend.
The New Year’s weekend is not a big one for getaway traffic, but there’s likely to be a bit of an early afternoon rush on Friday. Metro says it’s prepared to provide extra service early to handle extra ridership.
Whether you’re getting away or sticking around for the Hank Williams tribute at the Birchmere tonight, a New Year’s Eve celebration or the Wizards-Celtics game Sunday at Verizon Center, the Capital Weather Gang says you will enjoy mild temperatures and a mix of sun and clouds this weekend.
Metro this weekend
While Metro says it is prepared to deploy additional service for an early rush this afternoon, the operating hours and schedules are the normal ones.
On New Year’s Eve, rail service will operate as usual from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Normal service also is scheduled for New Year’s Day, followed by a repeat of the holiday service schedule — 7 a.m. to midnight — for Monday.
Virginia’s HOV lane restrictions are back in effect for rush hours through Friday.
For the New Year’s weekend, the I-95/395 reversible lanes will be open to all traffic heading south from 6 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Saturday.
They will be open to all northbound traffic from 4 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, when HOV-3 rules again take effect.
First Night Alexandria
The biggest New Year’s Eve event in the immediate D.C. area is First Night Alexandria, involving many venues in Old Town in celebrations set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday and continue to a midnight climax involving a drop of 6,000 balls and a laser light show by the George Washington Masonic Memorial.
People older than 12 need to wear a badge that costs $20.
Street parking is available, though it’s likely to be crowded near Old Town. Be sure to check the signs governing the parking hours and rates.
King Street is the nearest Metrorail station. It’s a pleasant walk from there to Old Town. But Alexandria’s DASH buses have several routes along King Street and the King Street Trolley will operate every 20 minutes till 1 a.m. Sunday between the Metro station and the corner of King and Union streets.
Also, a trolley will operate continuously from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. between the King Street station, First Night headquarters at the Durant Arts Center and the Masonic Memorial.
Falls Church celebration
From 5 p.m. Saturday through 1 a.m. Sunday the 100 block of West Broad Street (Route 7) in Falls Church will be cordoned off for the city’s annual “Watch Night” New Year’s Eve celebration. The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday.
A free shuttle bus will run every half hour from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. between East Falls Church Metro station and the celebration.
The biggest fireworks display in the region will be the annual one at midnight on New Year’s Eve over the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. This is a very popular event, especially when the weather is decent, as it should be Saturday night. The Inner Harbor, Little Italy and Federal Hill will be very crowded and parking will be difficult for those who don’t arrive early in the evening.
SoberRide for New Year’s Eve
The SoberRide program is operating its annual holiday safety campaign for people in the D.C. area who have had too much to drink and shouldn’t drive home. Offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program through a network of cab companies, SoberRide will continue from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday night and New Year’s Eve.
Adults who are at risk of driving while impaired can get a free ride home up to a $30 fare value by calling 800-200-TAXI (8294).
Pennsylvania Avenue project
Part of the District’s safety and beautification project along Pennsylvania Avenue SE is wrapping up after two years, but another will continue till spring.
By this weekend, the District Department of Transportation said, all the major road work work for the “Great Streets” project should be complete between 27th Street and Alabama Avenue SE. Two lanes will be open for traffic in each direction and the traffic signals will be in full operation.
The other part of the project, between Alabama Avenue and Southern Avenue SE, won’t get its final asphalt surface and landscaping till spring. DDOT said the project encountered delays because workers needed to expand the replacement of aging utilities along the corridor and because the soil conditions in some areas were unfavorable.
Along that unfinished eastern portion of the project, drivers have one lane in each direction.
Tolls rising Sunday
Drivers who use the Dulles Greenway and the Dulles Toll Road start paying more for their rides Sunday.
The rate for cars on the Dulles Toll Road goes up by 25 cents at the main toll plaza to $1.50. The rate at the ramps along the highway stays at 75 cents. This increase was approved in 2009 by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the toll road.
The authority says it needs the extra money to build the Silver Line for Metrorail as well as to operate and maintain the toll road. This is the third year of toll increases. Any more will require public hearings.
The Greenway, which is privately owned, is raising its maximum base toll by 30 cents, to $4, and the congestion management toll imposed at rush hours also is increasing by 30 cents, to $4.80. This is the final year under the current toll structure. Starting in 2013, the Greenway’s tolls will be tied to the Consumer Price Index.