Travelers face a cloudy, and sometimes stormy first week of spring, the Capital Weather Gang says. Skies are likely to be clearer on Friday, but temperatures will be chillier. Many road crews are out, and many more are to come as the weather warms. The National Marathon, very disruptive for traffic in the District, is scheduled for Saturday, the same day the two-week Cherry Blossom Festival starts. Metro has not scheduled any track work for the next three weekends. Here are some other things you should know as you face the week ahead.
The National Park Service begins preparations this week for a big project on Constitution Avenue that is likely to create traffic delays for many months.
The first signs of this project, between 15th and 23rd streets NW, will include temporary closings of the parking lanes during off-peak hours. The project will really become active the week of April 10, the Park Service says. The rebuilding of the roadway will occur throughout the day, overnight and on weekends. It will be done a block at a time, closing up to two lanes in each direction, until completed in early 2012.
Pothole patching in D.C.
The District Department of Transportation is launching its annual Potholepalooza today. The rapid-response program to fix potholes was first launched in spring 2009. During the month-long campaign, the department works to repair potholes within 48 hours. Two ways to report potholes: Call 311, the District’s Service Request Center, or use an online form at 311.DC.Gov.
Be prepared to identify the pothole’s location, including the quadrant (NW, NE, SE, SW), and to give as much detail as possible, including the approximate size and depth of the pothole.
The Virginia Department of Transportation also launched a pothole-fixing campaign this month on state-maintained roads. Call 800-367-7623 or report it to VDOT online.
For state roads in Maryland, you can use this service form.
11th Street Bridge
The District Department of Transportation may close lanes during off-peak travel hours on the 11th Street Bridge spans and ramps, portions of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, Interstate 295/DC 295 and local streets starting Wednesday and continuing through June 22. Work on the two spans that will carry highway traffic is scheduled to be done at the end of the year.
Beltway Bridge Reopened
The Idylwood Road bridge, between Interstate 66 and Route 7 south of Tysons Corner, has reopened. The reconstruction over the Capital Beltway is one of a series of milestones scheduled for the high-occupancy toll lanes project this year.
The new two-lane span is slightly wider than the old one, to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.
All the bridges between Springfield and the Dulles Toll Road are being widened for the HOT lanes, and some will be completed later this year. The Idylwood project was unusual in that the bridge was shut down, rather than partially closed, to speed up reconstruction by a year and a half.
‘Cool Breeze’ Coming
Metro riders may catch a break as the temperatures rise this spring: General Manager Richard Sarles announced last week that Metrorail has created a more aggressive program to repair and maintain the train air conditioners, which were a source of many complaints during the very hot summer of 2010.
The goal of the campaign, called Operation Cool Breeze and begun in February, is to inspect and overhaul units in the more than 1,000 cars in the rail fleet. That includes cleaning the condensers under the cars and the pipes, pans and filters over the riders’ heads, said Damon Cannon, Metro’s general superintendent of rail car maintenance, who led reporters on a tour of cars under repair at the New Carrollton yard. The intensified campaign of preventive maintenance and repair on the air conditioners will continue through the summer, he said.
The D.C. Circulator’s seasonal route around the Mall is the least successful of the Circulator routes and is likely to be discontinued.
Overall, the Circulator service has been a great success. With more than 5 million riders in 2010, it is now the fourth-largest bus service in the D.C. region. But the Mall loop, known as the Smithsonian-National Gallery of Art line, was averaging 10 riders an hour. The District Department of Transportation is interested in shifting the money it would have spent on the Mall route this year to extend the operating hours of the Union Station-Navy Yard line.
More parking on H Street NE
The D.C. Department of Transportation plans to reopen parking on the south side of H Street NE between Third and Eighth streets after the paving and lane striping are done Saturday, weather permitting. The department has been rebuilding H Street and installing tracks for a future streetcar.
Tonight, weather permitting, the Maryland State Highway Administration plans to close the Forestville Road Bridge over the Capital Beltway as part of a $1.6 million rehabilitation project. Crews will close the roadway at midnight to replace a steel beam, and it should be reopened by 5 a.m. Tuesday. The exit lane from the Beltway’s inner loop to Forestville Road (Exit 9) also will be closed. All travel lanes on the Beltway will remain open. Traffic will detour onto Pennsylvania Avenue and back to Forestville Road during the ramp closing.