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Posted at 09:50 AM ET, 01/23/2012

The week ahead for traffic, transit

Today, Thursday and Saturday are likely to be the week’s rainy days, the Capital Weather Gang says. After today, temperatures are going to be on the mild side, especially Tuesday and Friday.

Two annual events, today’s March for Life and Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, will generate extra traffic congestion in the middle of D.C. Meanwhile, Metro is planning a week of track work at off peak hours, followed by a weekend that will close several stations on the Red Line. Here are some highlights.

March for Life

The annual March for Life today will draw thousands of abortion protesters to the Mall and Capitol Hill today. A rally is scheduled for noon just west of Eighth Street on the Mall near the Smithsonian Castle. The march from there will start at 1:30 p.m. and go east on Constitution Avenue NW, up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court.

Smithsonian, on the Blue and Orange lines, is the nearest Metrorail station. But it is easily overwhelmed by big crowds for major rallies. Participants could also use L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW station, to the south of the Mall, or Federal Triangle and Archives stations, to the north. They all are farther from the rally site than Smith­sonian, but they are still in walking distance.

The event’s effect on traffic is likely to be greatest after it ends, about 5 p.m. or later, and the marchers disperse into the midst of the evening rush hour. Many participants will walk north to Union Station or south to the Capitol South Metro station.

Metrobus routes that go near the Mall will detour around the rally between 11:30 a.m. and about 12:30 p.m., the transit authority said. See the full detour list.

Metrobus changes

Metrobus is making changes that affect several dozen routes across the D.C. region. Here are a couple of particular importance to riders.

The Massachusetts Avenue Line’s Route N2 will be redirected between Friendship Heights and Ward Circle to Wisconsin and Nebraska avenues. This move, in response to rider requests, will restore the routing that existed before Sept. 25, Metro says. It restores the connection between Cathedral Avenue and Tenleytown.

Because a new transit center is opening at the Seven Corners shopping center, adjacent to the Arlington Boulevard service road, all bus service before 10 p.m. on Routes 1A, 1B, 1E, 1F, 4A, 4B, 4H, 28A and 28X will use this location. The schedules stay the same.

Metrorail weekday maintenance

Because of the delayed arrival of federal workers, Metro cancelled the midday track work it had planned for today. But this schedule applies for tonight and the rest of the week.

Red Line: Late in the evenings, trains will share a track between Dupont Circle and Friendship Heights for work on the track circuits. Trains also will share a track between Takoma and Forest Glen, where workers are installing fiber optic cable. Riders should allow 20 extra minutes.

Tonight and Thursday, the work will begin at 8 p.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday, it will begin at 10 p.m. (The Capitals play Tuesday and the Wizards play Wednesday at Verizon Center. The games start at 7 p.m. )

Orange Line: Beginning at 10 tonight and continuing each night through Thursday, trains will share a track between Ballston and Foggy Bottom. This work will prepare for a switch replacement project.

Trains also will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory, clearing areas for station rehabilitation and track work. Riders should add an extra 20 to 25 minutes to their normal travel times, Metro said.

Riders traveling between D.C. and Arlington also could take Metrobus Route 38B (Farragut Square-Ballston). Those buses stop at Rosslyn, Court House, Clarendon and Ballston Metrorail stations.

Blue Line: From 10 p.m. each night through Thursday, trains will share a track between Arlington Cemetery and Foggy Bottom. The work in this zone also prepares for a switch replacement project.

Trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory for station rehabilitation and track work. Add 20 to 25 minutes to normal travel times, Metro said.

Green Line: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, trains will share a track between Fort Totten and Prince George’s Plaza while crews work on the rails and fasteners. Add about 10 minutes to normal travel times.

Yellow Line: Because of the Green Line work, Yellow Line trains will turn back at Mount Vernon Square during midday hours, rather than continuing north to Fort Totten, as they normally do at off-peak times. Riders who want to go beyond Mount Vernon Square should switch to Green Line trains on the same platform.

Constitution Avenue

On weekdays from 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., drivers may find up to two lanes closed in either direction on Constitution Avenue NW between 23rd and 15th streets as part of the longterm rehabilitation project.

From 10 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, watch out for equipment in the lanes to measure the smoothness of the pavement.

State of the Union speech

President Obama is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the Union speech at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. From about 7 p.m., till after the speech, traffic restrictions will be in effect around the Capitol.

D.C. streetcar drains

The District Department of Transportation is replacing 23 drain systems along the streetcar tracks on Firth Sterling Avenue and South Capitol Street in Anacostia.

That’s good news for bicyclists who were concerned that their wheels would get caught in the old-style drains, but it means some off-peak lane closings and traffic shifts on those roads starting Tuesday and continuing through Feb. 2.

Tysons lane closings

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to close the Capital Beltway inner loop exit to westbound Route 7 from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to work on installing a bridge deck. This is part of the high-occupancy toll lanes project, also referred to now as the 495 Express Lanes.

The Saturday work is likely to cause delays for Beltway traffic heading through Tysons Corner. Drivers who would normally use that exit will be directed to continue on the Beltway to Exit 46A for southbound Chain Bridge Road, then follow signs to the outer loop and on to Exit 47A for westbound Route 7 west. But drivers trying to reach Tysons Corner Center could just stay on southbound Chain Bridge Road to enter the shopping mall.

D.C. parking for disabled

The District Department of Transportation is about to launch a parking program for disabled people. Soon, reserved parking at metered spaces will be available in commercial areas. Drivers whose vehicles display valid disability placards or license plates should look for meters with red tops. They will be required to pay at these meters, but they can stay for twice the time generally provided for curbside parking elsewhere on those blocks.

This will replace the system that allows free parking at metered spaces for vehicles displaying the proper placards or plates. DDOT says the new approach is designed to remove the prime incentive for cheating — the free spaces — and is similar to Arlington County’s “all must pay” ­approach.

Look for the red-top meters in the central business district and in areas of Southwest Washington near federal buildings.

Metro this weekend

Once again, the big maintenance project will be on the Red Line. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Dupont Circle and Van Ness. The Woodley Park and Cleveland Park stations will be closed.

By  |  09:50 AM ET, 01/23/2012

Categories:  Commuting, Metro, Events

 
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