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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 09:09 AM ET, 03/28/2011

The week ahead for traffic, transit

Temperatures will remain on the cool side through the first week of the Cherry Blossom Festival. There’s a chance of rain Wednesday and Friday, the Capital Weather Gang says, but otherwise, the outlook is good for getting around. The home opener at Nationals Park is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Sports fans could head from the stadium to Verizon Center to see the Caps play hockey Thursday night. Here are some things you should know about getting around the D.C. area this week.

Metro crowding

The blossom festival and the start of baseball season mean transit riders are likely to find the trains more crowded. And the crowds will include many tourists unfamiliar with our local customs, like standing to the right on the escalators.

Smithsonian Station on the Orange and Blue lines will be extremely crowded. Transit police officers may designate one side as entrance only and the other as exit only if the station gets really jammed. Other stations likely to be extra crowded are Woodley Park, near the National Zoo, and Arlington Cemetery. On Thursday afternoon, Navy Yard Station on the Green Line also will be crowded, since it’s the closest to Nationals Park. Gallery Place gets crowded when there’s a game right above it at Verizon Center.

Metro has suspended its weekend track work for the two weeks of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but the escalator and elevator repairs continue.

Nationals Park

The Nats are scheduled to play the Braves at 1:05 p.m. Thursday. They’ll take Friday off and then play on the weekend.

Expect ridership to be extra heavy on the Green Line. Most fans use the Half Street exit at Navy Yard Station, because its closest to the stadium and was rebuilt to handle the crowding. Metro has done a pretty good job with the platform crowds, but there still are likely to be long lines on Half Street after the game. It may be a bit faster to walk over to the New Jersey Avenue entrance, but be careful crossing M Street.

While Metrorail does an efficient job moving fans off the Navy Yard platform and onto trains, the transfer stations at L’Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place can become quite crowded after games. And with an afternoon game, that extra crowding occurs as rush hour is starting.

Homebound drivers should expect to encounter some extra traffic around M and South Capitol streets Thursday afternoon. Drivers heading to the game can check their parking options here.

There’s a free bike valet at the corner of N and First streets SE, plus 250 bike racks around the stadium. A Circulator bus route can take fans between the New Jersey Avenue entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station and Union Station, via Eighth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Or consider walking between the stadium and the Metro’s Capitol South Station on the Blue and Orange lines. See all the transportation options here.

Beltway in Tysons Corner

Each night through Friday night, the Dulles Metrorail project plans to continue the overnight closings of three lanes on the Capital Beltway’s inner loop at Route 123 in Tysons Corner. The closings leave just one lane open between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. The inner loop ramps connecting with Route 123 also will close during those hours. Workers will begin to narrow down the lanes at 9:30 each night.

Drivers should expect to encounter such Beltway closings throughout the rest of the year. The workers are building the bridges that will take the new rail line over the highway, and the lanes will be closed to create a safety zone beneath the work areas.

Beltway HOT lanes

The western side of the Beltway in Virginia is the biggest construction zone in the D.C. region. While the Dulles Metrorail work continues in Tysons, the High Occupancy Toll lanes construction continues along 14 miles between Springfield and the Dulles Toll Road.

While there are no lane closings during peak hours, the overnight projects shut many lanes around bridges and interchanges. See a list of those overnight closings on the Virginia Megaprojects Web site.

Beltway/Telegraph Road

The Wilson Bridge project has scheduled some major work for this weekend near the Beltway’s Telegraph Road interchange.

The Beltway’s outer loop will be narrowed to one lane between the Eisenhower Connector and just east of the Telegraph Road interchange from Friday night through mid-morning Saturday. The closing will create a safety zone so workers can shift and reconfigure the THRU/LOCAL lane split.

Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, the right LOCAL lane of the outer loop will close, leaving one LOCAL and one THRU lane open. The ramps to the outer loop from Telegraph Road North and South also will close at this time. Drivers who want to reach the outer loop from Telegraph Road should take Huntington Avenue east to the Route 1 ramp for the outer loop.

Starting around midnight, the right LOCAL lane will reopen and the left LOCAL lane and the THRU lane will close, restricting traffic to the single right-hand LOCAL lane. There will be no access to the THRU lanes during this time. Traffic will be restricted to a single lane until mid-morning April 2, when the second LOCAL lane will reopen. All lanes and traffic movements will be fully restored by mid-day Saturday, when the THRU lane and the two on-ramps from Telegraph Road North and South reopen.

The new traffic pattern will require drivers who use the center lane to take the LOCAL lanes. They won’t have the option to choose between LOCAL and THRU lanes. Project managers say this configuration will allow for smoother and safer navigation of the outer loop’s THRU/LOCAL lane split at the Telegraph Road interchange. It will eliminate abrupt merging of vehicles from the Telegraph Road ramps onto the Beltway. At the same time, it will provide easier full-time access for work on the inner loop’s THRU lanes, eliminating the need for day-time left lane closures in the three-lane area of the outer loop.

This THRU/LOCAL lane split configuration will be in place until the summer, the project management says. In the next construction phase, the split will be shifted east onto new pavement and the middle lane of the outer loop will again split to both the THRU and LOCAL lanes.

Tysons lane Shift

The Dulles Metrorail project plans to slightly shift the lanes of westbound Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) in Tysons Corner this weekend. The plan is to move the three through lanes slightly to the right just after the Route 123 overpass. They will revert to the left around Westpark Drive. The rail project is clearing space in the median for the elevated tracks and stations.

D.C. Circulator meeting

The District Department of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting for Thursday to discuss development of the Circulator bus program and routes over the next decade. The department has recommendations for service changes and is considering 11 corridors for potential expansion.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. in the Ohio Room of the Capital Hilton at 16th and L streets NW.

By  |  09:09 AM ET, 03/28/2011

Categories:  Commuting | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, The week ahead

 
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