Navigating the first post-Sandy commute

October 31, 2012

Outer Loop closed near I-95 split in College Park | Transit: What’s running today? | Closures and cancellations

Good morning, commuters! The federal government is open for business on Wednesday, as are most schools and local governments. So for many of you, it’s back to business as usual as you head back to work. 

But the Wednesday morning commute will be a tricky one. The first post-Sandy commute will see a lot of traffic on the roads, rails and sidewalks that has been absent for the last two days. Standing water and storm-related debris remains a problem across the region, while flooding is still a problem. And there could even be a few showers today, according to the Capital Weather Gang.

We’re going to be live-blogging the morning commute here, bringing you the latest in traffic and transit. Make sure to let us know what you’re seeing out there. Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting to @DrGridlock.

[liveblog]

Outer loop delays easing

The delays on the outer loop of the Beltway have largely cleared up near U.S. 50 and Central Avenue following the earlier lane closure that snarled traffic for several hours on Wednesday morning. Traffic is also moving again on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, I-95 and the side roads that were jammed up by travelers seeking an alternate route. 

And with that, we’re winding down the morning liveblog right now. Remember to use caution as you head out today. The storm may be gone, but roadways could be slick, flooded or blocked by debris. Use caution if you’re walking or bicycling somewhere, because sidewalks and bike lanes can also be covered with wet leaves. 

All outer loop lanes open, major delays remain

The right lane has reopened on the outer loop of the Beltway near the I-95 split in College Park. Despite all lanes being open again, massive delays remain on the Beltway and numerous other routes. Head here for more.

Outer loop lanes reopen, massive delays remain

We’ve just updated our story on the crash blocking multiple outer loop lanes on the Beltway this morning. One lane remains blocked, but the other lanes have reopened. Massive gridlock remains a major problem on the outer loop of the Beltway, I-95, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and other routes. Head here for more.

Things returning to normal at National, Dulles and BWI

Travelers are once again flocking to the Washington area’s three airports after days of cancellations stemming from Hurricane Sandy. 

Things are slowly returning to normal at Dulles International and Reagan National airports, according to David Mould, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Authority, which operates the two airports. He said the airports aren’t running a full schedule just yet, as airlines still have to get planes and crews back on schedule. 

Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport was once again filled with travelers on Wednesday morning, said airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. Airlines continue to ramp up their flights, with several of them decorating the ticket counters for Halloween. Dean said BWI should be approaching normal service levels later this morning.

I-270 South reopened at Falls Rd.

I-270 South has fully reopened at Falls Road. Expect residual southbound delays stemming from the earlier accident. 

Watch for Orange Line delays

The Post’s Marjorie Censer reports that a crowded Orange Line train was taken out of service at Foggy Bottom. Watch for potential crowding or delays at that station and elsewhere on the Orange Line. 

Outer loop crash snarls Beltway, I-95

An accident on the outer loop of the Beltway near the I-95 split in College Park is still blocking several lanes, with traffic only able to get by on the left shoulder and right lane. As with many prolonged lane closures, the delays from this crash are reverberating out onto other key roads.

The outer loop of the Beltway is backed up from the I-95 split in College Park all the way to U.S. 50/John Hanson Highway, with traffic crawling as it approaches the U.S. 50 exit. Southbound I-95 is also very, very slow, with delays stretching up to Laurel.

Drivers seeking to avoid these delays are also encountering congestion on the best available alternatives. Southbound Route 29/Columbia Pike is very slow heading to the Beltway, and delays are building on the East-West Highway and Greenbelt Road/University Boulevard.

In other words, if you have to travel on any of these roads or in this area, expect to encounter major headaches. 

Metro’s open, but what about trains in other cities?

Metro’s trains, buses and MetroAccess service are all up and running again. But what about transit systems in other major cities impacted by the storm? Here’s what we are seeing elsewhere on the coast: 

New York City

Subway service remains suspended in the wake of the storm, which flooded seven subway tunnels. Local, limited-stop and express buses are going to attempt to operate as close to a normal weekday schedule as possible. Long Island Rail and Metro-North rail service also remains suspended.

New Jersey

New Jersey Transit’s rail and light rail services remain suspended. Bus service has resumed service in Camden County on specific routes (see here for more).

Philadelphia

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority resumed regional rail service on Wednesday, with trains running on their normal weekday schedules. City and suburban bus and trolley routes resumed service on Tuesday afternoon, along with travel on the Market-Frankford, Broad Street and Norristown High Speed lines. 

Boston

Trains are running again on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s lines again, with one exception: On the Green Line, bus service is running between the Newton Highlands and Riverside stations due to downed trees and power lines. 

I-270 South lanes blocked at Falls Rd.

A crash on southbound I-270 is blocking four lanes at Falls Road. 

Use caution when walking today

Walking to work or the Metro? Here’s a good trip from commuter Christina:

Canal Road open

Canal Road has fully reopened between Foxhall and Reservoir roads in Northwest Washington. The road was blocked due to downed trees and downed wires on Tuesday afternoon, but the eastbound lanes are open to traffic this morning. 

One outer loop lane reopens in Md.

The right lane has reopened on the outer loop of the Beltway near the I-95 split in College Park. Traffic can now get by on the left shoulder and right lane, but massive delays remain.

Normal Orange, Blue Line service resumes

Metro reports that normal service has resumed on the Orange and Blue lines. Watch for any lingering delays or crowding stemming from the earlier train issues at East Falls Church and Van Dorn Street. 

U.S. 50 East delayed in Northern Va.

Commuter Lauren reports that eastbound U.S. 50 is very congested in Northern Virginia. There are also a few lights along this road, she says, so watch for delays if you’re heading toward D.C.

Orange Line delays to New Carrollton

Orange Line riders heading to New Carrollton should expect to encounter some delays stemming from an earlier train malfunction at East Falls Church. 

Blue Line delays to Largo

Blue Line riders should expect residual delays heading to Largo Town Center due to a train malfunction at Van Dorn Street.

MARC delays

MARC service has also been restored following a Hurricane Sandy-inspired sabbatical, but there are already several delays impacting riders this morning:

  • Brunswick Line train 892 is running 12 to 15 minutes late due to a switch problem
  • Camden Line train 840 is going to run 10 to 15 minutes late due to train congestion
  • Amtrak train 181 on the Penn Line is canceled for the day. MARC train 523 is the last southbound MARC train.
  • Amtrak train 151 is 10 to 12 minutes late

Notes for VRE riders

The Virginia Railway Express is operating today, but there are a few things riders should know. The platform elevator is out of service on the VRE side of the Franconia-Springfield stop, so riders needing an elevator to connect to Metro should head to Alexandria. And the parking garage elevator is out of service at Woodbridge.

I-95 North lane reopens in Triangle

The crash on I-95 North in Triangle has been cleared and the left lane and left shoulder reopened.

Little River Turnpike lane blocked

View Larger Map

An accident on the eastbound Little River Turnpike at Woodburn Road in Annandale is blocking the right lane and right shoulder. 

Outer loop blocked by crash

The outer loop of the Beltway remains blocked near the I-95 split in College Park. Head here to read more on that story as it develops this morning. 

Outer loop lanes could remain blocked through morning rush hour

The outer loop of the Beltway remains blocked near the I-95 split in College Park due to a three-vehicle accident, and some or all of these lanes could remain closed through the morning commute, officials warn.

All outer loop traffic is squeezing into the left shoulder to get by the accident, resulting in delays of about five miles, said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration. I-95 South is also significantly slowing down, which could severely impact commuters heading south from Baltimore. 

Buck warned that some or all of these lanes could remain blocked through the morning rush hour, so he advised drivers to seek alternate routes and prepare for delays. 

Drivers who normally take I-95 South to the outer loop should consider the Intercounty Connector as an alternative, Buck said. They could also head over to southbound Route 29 and use that, but he warns that drivers should expect delays no matter how they try to get around this crash.

For drivers heading onto the outer loop from Prince George’s County, the best bets are University Boulevard/Greenbelt Road or the East-West Highway. But again, with many drivers trying to avoid this crash, these routes should be more congested than they would be on a normal morning. 

The details of the crash remain largely unclear so far, with no word yet on how many people were involved or injured, according to the Maryland State Police. 

Transit: What’s running today?

The Washington region’s trains and buses shut down on Monday due to Hurricane Sandy, with some slowly returning to service on Tuesday afternoon. Most commuting options have reopened for business on Wednesday. Here’s what is up and running again:

  • Metro (rail, bus and MetroAccess service; expect to encounter some bus detours or delays due to debris or flooding) 
  • MARC (though some delays are possible due to flooding-related speed restrictions or debris) 
  • Virginia Railway Express 
  • Amtrak has modified Northeast Regional service operating as far north as Newark, N.J. Service is canceled between Newark and Boston. There’s no Acela service at all. Virginia service has been restored to Lyncburg, Richmond and Newport News. 
  • D.C. Circulator
  • Capital Bikeshare
  • Arlington Transit (and STAR service) 
  • Fairfax Connector
  • Ride On
  • DASH 
  • The King Street Trolley in Old Town Alexandria 
  • Loudoun County Transit

Accident blocking I-95 North lane in Triangle

A crash on I-95 North in Triangle is blocking the left lane and left shoulder. 

Three-vehicle crash blocking outer loop in Md.

An accident involving three vehicles is blocking all outer loop lanes near the I-95 split in College Park. Only the left shoulder is able to get by. 

The crash, which involves a car, a truck and a tractor trailer with no trailer attached, occurred shortly before 5:20 a.m., according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Crash blocking outer loop in Md.

An accident on the outer loop of the Beltway just after the I-95 split in College Park (exit 27) is blocking all lanes. Traffic is only able to get by on the left shoulder.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Robert Thomson | October 30, 2012