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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 10:04 AM ET, 03/30/2012

The weekend and beyond

Blossom time is over at the Tidal Basin, but the Cherry Blossom Festival, with all its crowd-gathering events, is still going strong. The Kite Festival is Saturday and the 10-Mile Run is Sunday.


The Jefferson Memorial is pictured with the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., March 23, 2012. (Sue Ogrocki - Associated Press)

The Capital Weather Gang’s weekend forecast is pretty good, though we’ll start out a bit chilly before reaching 70 on Sunday.

While there’s a lot of activity in D.C. because of the blossom festival, Wizards and Capitals games at Verizon Center on Friday and Saturday, and D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Friday, some important transportation developments are in the suburbs. Check below for some major activity on the Capital Beltway in Virginia, as well as some work coming up on weekdays.

Cherry blossom run on Sunday

Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. Sunday for people traveling to the Cherry Blossom 10-mile Run.

The race staging area is on the Washington Monument grounds. The 10-mile run starts and finishes on 15th Street at Jefferson Drive. (Start times are 7:20 and 7:30 a.m.) See a pdf map of the course.

The 5K Run-Walk starts and finishes on Independence Avenue about 200 yards west of the intersection of 15th and Independence Avenue. See a pdf map of the course. The start time is 8:40 a.m.

Road closings

2 to 11:30 a.m.: 15th Street between Constitution and Independence avenues.

5 to 10:30 a.m.: Independence Avenue SW between 14th and 23rd streets; Ohio Drive, 23rd Street to Virginia Avenue; Ohio Drive in East and West Potomac Parks; Memorial Bridge, along with Arlington Memorial Circle and Lincoln Memorial Circle; 23rd Street, Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle; 17th Street, Constitution Avenue to Independence Avenue; Raoul Wallenberg Place SW, Maine to Independence avenues; Daniel French Drive SW; Parkway Drive NW; Maine Avenue SW, 12th to 15th Street, where all traffic will be diverted to southbound Interstate 395. See a pdf map of the street closings.

With all those closings and with Metrorail opening two hours early, take the Blue or Orange lines to Smithsonian station and exit via the National Mall side.

Smithsonian can be crowded for big events like this, so if you’re up for a bit more walking, use L’Enfant Plaza on the Green, Yellow, Blue and Orange lines, or Metro Center on the Red, Blue and Orange lines.

Riding Metro

Metro has temporarily suspended its midday and weekend track work programs for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Tourists will have a more pleasant experience — and give commuters a break — if they ride at off-peak times. Also, visitors can buy a $9 Metrorail One-Day Pass, which is good for unlimited travel after 9:30 a.m.

Smithsonian is the Metro station right on the National Mall. But it’s jammed during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Try L’Enfant Plaza, Federal Triangle or Foggy Bottom.

Try to avoid transferring from one Metro line to another. The transfer stations at Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza and Gallery Place will be very crowded, and the transfer may save only a little walking time.

On the escalators, stand to the right and walk on the left side. On the trains, be careful of the doors. They are easily busted when people lean against them, or try to hold them open.

Many riders have complained lately about the doors closing too quickly at the downtown stations, even before riders have a chance to get off.

Buses in Mall area

The D.C. Circulators, the distinctive red, black and silver buses with the $1 fares, help tourists get around, but several routes have changed. The District dropped the Convention Center-Waterfront route. Metrobus Route 74 covers much the same ground, for a higher fare. It’s $1.50 with a SmarTrip card and $1.75 with cash.

The Georgetown-Union Station and Union Station-Navy Yard routes no longer stop inside the Union Station garage. Look for them now on the east side of Columbus Circle, which is in front of the station. On April 1, the Union Station-Navy Yard route will extend its evening hours to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

With Tourmobile gone, a new bus service operated by ANC Tours has begun running on a loop connecting the Union Station bus garage with the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Smithsonian Metro station for $5 per boarding. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Constitution Avenue

There’s no work scheduled for this weekend on the road rehabilitation project along Constitution Avenue NW. But Monday through Friday between 5:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., the eastbound curb lane may be closed between 17th and 15 streets for installation of fencing. Parking will be limited.

A new sidewalk will be placed on the north side of Constitution Avenue between 23rd and 22nd Street. The parking lane there will be blocked starting Monday.

Beltway/Braddock Road

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to close all lanes of the outer loop (Interstate 495 South) just before Exit 54 for Braddock Road to set a 230-ton steel bridge girder. Starting at 9:30 p.m. Friday, workers will close one outer loop lane before Braddock Road, then gradually close the others by 10:30 p.m.

All outer loop traffic will be detoured to Exit 54A for Braddock Road West and directed to cross over the roadway, then get back to the outer loop. The lanes are scheduled to reopen by 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

If bad weather should force cancelation, the work will be rescheduled for Saturday night.

Beltway/I-66

To prepare for the opening of a flyover ramp from I-66 West to the outer loop, VDOT plans to close the three right lanes on I-495 South at the I-66 interchange as well as westbound I-66’s exit Exit 64 to the outer loop.

The left side HOV exit from I-66 East to the Beltway also will be closed, and drivers will be directed to use the general purpose exit on the right side.

The closings will start at 9:30 p.m. Friday. By 7 a.m. Saturday, the new flyover ramp should be open to take drivers from I-66 West to the outer loop. Everyone heading from I-66 West to I-495 South will then use this exit, rather than the old left-lane merge.

During the Friday night closings, the westbound I-66 traffic heading to the outer loop will be directed to continue west to Exit 62 (Nutley Street) and follow signs to I-66 East, then go back to I-495 South.

But if you chose to follow that detour back to the outer loop, keep in mind that you’re heading toward the work at Braddock Road described above.

Street Smart

Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists may notice some extra enforcement of the traffic safety laws. The Street Smart campaign has begun its spring offensive in the D.C. region.

While this is an educational campaign, and you’ll hear and see safety ads, it’s also about stepped up policing. Drivers, you don’t want to be making right turns into pedestrians at crosswalks. Cyclists, you don’t want to be going against traffic on a one-way street. Pedestrians, don’t be jaywalking.

Basically, all you have to remember is to obey the law.

Bike to Work Day

The event isn’t till May 18, but registration has opened for the annual Bike to Work Day.

People who register and attend one of the 58 regional pit stops before riding to work in a cycling convoy can get a free Bike to Work Day T-Shirt. There’s also food, drink and a chance to win bicycles and other prizes.

Here’s a link to the online registration.

Anacostia Drive

The National Park Service has reopened Anacostia Drive SE between Good Hope Road SE and the South Capitol Street off-ramps. The drive had been closed overnights this week for repaving.

Herndon-Monroe parking

Starting this weekend, the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride garage on Sunrise Valley Drive by the Dulles Toll Road in Herndon will undergo repairs and maintenance that will continue until the end of August.

During each of the project’s four phases, about 450 of the garage’s 1,745 parking spaces will be unavailable. Each of the three stairwells will be closed at some point during construction, but only one will be closed at a time.

Alternative parking: Reston South Park and Ride, 2531 Reston Pkwy.; Sunset Hills Park and Ride, 12050 Sunset Hills Rd.

Dulles Metrorail

Construction of a pedestrian pavilion across from a new Metrorail Silver Line station is scheduled to begin this coming week and continue for seven days. This station, which has the working title of Tysons Central 7 until the Metro Board officially adopts a new name, is in the middle of Route 7 near the Marshall’s shopping center.

This pavilion, a ground-level entrance for the pedestrian bridge over the roadway to the station, will be on westbound Route 7 where the old Merchant’s Tire store was located. Later this year, a second pavilion will be built on the eastbound side, by the Marshall’s.

Part of the work involves pile driving, which will be noisy. This will be done between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, and perhaps on Saturday.

George Washington Parkway

The rebuilding of the Humpback Bridge over Boundary Channel on the George Washington Parkway is winding down, but the southbound left lane is scheduled to be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday to repair the surface under the guardrails.

Wisconsin Avenue

The Maryland State Highway Administration is resurfacing Wisconsin Avenue between Bradley Boulevard and the D.C. line. Watch for single lane closings on weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

By  |  10:04 AM ET, 03/30/2012

Categories:  Weekend Work, Events, Metro, Capital Beltway | Tags:  DC transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, Metro, WMATA, Cherry Blossom Festival, 495 Express Lanes, Maryland Department of Transportation

 
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