The weekend and beyond: Holiday activities mix with road, transit work


The Parade of Lighted Boats is among the holiday events that will draw crowds this weekend. (Photo by Chester Simpson)

[This post has been updated.]

The weekend weather looks pretty good for local travelers and holiday shoppers. The Capital Weather Gang foresees a warming trend, with a mix of clouds and sun, and no rain.

Look for extra traffic around the shopping centers, including that new Costco store in the District’s Fort Lincoln neighborhood. See our Holiday Guide 2012 for advice on the many seasonal activities underway, which include The Parade of Lighted Boats on Saturday evening along the Potomac River and the Festival of Lights that gets underway Friday night at the Mormon Temple in Kensington.

And watch out for small-scale congestion around the Christmas tree sales areas that are popping up in your neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the road and transit projects in the D.C. region have yet to take much of a break. Here are some highlights.

Metro weekend delays

Metrorail’s maintenance program will affect service on the Red, Orange and Green lines. All the disruptions are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Friday and continue through the rail system’s midnight closing on Sunday.

Red Line: Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Fort Totten and Forest Glen. The Silver Spring and Takoma stations will be closed. Trains between Shady Grove and Fort Totten will operate about every 10 minutes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the time, they will operate on normal weekend schedules.

Between Forest Glen and Glenmont, they will operate about every 20 minutes through the weekend.

If your trip includes a ride on a shuttle bus, add about half an hour to your normal travel time. Also, be prepared to stand outside while waiting to board the shuttle buses. The bus bridges usually work well, but they do get riders off trains and into the outdoors.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the last Red Line train from Glenmont will leave at 2:05 a.m., 32 minutes earlier than normal, to allow for bus connections, Metro said. The last train from Fort Totten to Shady Grove will leave at 2:50 a.m., stopping at Metro Center at 3:06 a.m. and arriving at Shady Grove at 3:40 a.m., Metro said.

On Sunday night, the last Red Line train from Glenmont will leave at 11:05 p.m., 32 minutes earlier than normal. The last train from Fort Totten to Shady Grove will leave at 11:50 p.m., stopping at Metro Center at 12:06 a.m. and arriving at Shady Grove at 12:40 a.m., Metro said.

Orange Line: Trains will share tracks between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly and between East Falls Church and West Falls Church. They will operate every 24 minutes between the ends of the line at Vienna and New Carrollton. But allow 15 minutes of extra travel time for the work zones, Metro said.

If you’re traveling through downtown D.C., remember that the Blue Line shares the tunnel in that area, so trains will arrive more frequently between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory.

Green Line: Trains will share a track between Greenbelt and College Park. Every other train will use College Park, rather than Greenbelt, as its terminal. Between College Park and Branch Avenue, trains will operate on their normal weekend schedules. But add about 10 minutes of travel time between College Park and Greenbelt.

Greenbelt Road/Kenilworth Avenue

The Maryland State Highway Administration plans to close lanes this weekend along eastbound Greenbelt Road (Route 193) between Kenilworth Avenue (Route 201) and Southway in Greenbelt to install a concrete bus pad.

The closings are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Friday, when the two right lanes will be shut. All lanes will be open to traffic by noon Sunday.

Beltway/Telegraph Road work rescheduled

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge project postponed some major road work it had planned for this weekend at the Beltway’s Telegraph Road interchange. The work will be rescheduled for next weekend.

George Washington Parkway

The northbound lanes of the George Washington Parkway will once again be closed this weekend for the rock stabilization project in the Rosslyn area. The closing, from 8 p.m. Friday through 4:30 a.m. Monday, begins just after the Spout Run Parkway exit.

Arlington Memorial Bridge

From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the eastbound and westbound center lanes on the Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed for asphalt patching, the National Park Service said. A minimum of one lane will remain open in both the eastbound and westbound lanes at all times.

Rock Creek Parkway

The road work on Rock Creek Parkway continues at Waterside Drive. The southbound left curb lane is closed approaching Waterside Drive. A minimum of one lane will remain open in the southbound lanes at all times.

Good Hope Road/MLK Avenue

The District Department of Transportation plans to close the intersection of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE from midnight through 5 a.m. Saturday; 11th Street SE toward Anacostia also will be closed during those hours while workers finish paving and striping the intersection as part of the 11th Street Bridge project.

New D.C. freeway ramp

A new ramp connecting 11th Street SE with the westbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway opened Thursday. Drivers on Capitol Hill can use this for easier access from local streets onto the freeway. It will also provide more direct access to the freeway for Anacostia residents who use the local span of the 11th Street Bridge. And it should help the traffic leaving the Navy Yard in the evening.

Southeast Freeway Detour

The other big change that was part of the District’s 11th Street Bridge project affects commuters who drive across the Sousa Bridge so they can swing from Pennsylvania Avenue SE onto the westbound side of the Southeast Freeway. The westbound side is now closed between Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street SE. It will stay closed for 18 to 20 months while workers raise the roadway and convert it into a boulevard, with connections to local streets.

Drivers should now head south on D.C. 295 to the 11th Street Bridge and use that to cross the Anacostia River, where they pick up the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

Around the end of the year, the eastbound lanes in that freeway segment also will be closed for the boulevard construction project, but by then, the new ramp from the outbound span of the 11th Street Bridge to northbound D.C. 295 should be open, giving commuters a more direct freeway connection than they had before the project began.

Wisconsin Avenue/M Street NW

The intersection in the middle of Georgetown is scheduled to close from 11 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday while workers install holiday decorations. The D.C. Circulator buses on the Dupont Circle – Georgetown – Rosslyn route will end service one hour early on Sunday, at 11 p.m. Sunday. The Georgetown – Union Station route will turn around at Washington Circle from 11 p.m. until service ends at midnight.

Football Monday

Metro will stay open an hour past the normal midnight closing time on Monday to get fans home from FedEx Field after the Redskins game with the New York Giants. The 8:30 p.m. kickoff time means that football fans will be sharing the roads and rails with commuters, generating extra congestion.

If heading to the game, try to get there early. The parking lots open four hours before kickoff. If you’re a Capital Beltway commuter just trying to avoid the game traffic, stay left as you travel through the Landover area to avoid the game traffic, which will be using three exits in that area.

D.C. parking summit

The District Department of Transportation plans to hold a citywide forum on Tuesday night to report on the feedback it received during a round of community meetings about how street parking should be managed.

Transportation officials will review what they heard and discuss how the public comments may fit into the development of a comprehensive plan for parking.

The summit is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. at 441 Fourth St. NW. For those who don’t want to park, Judiciary Square is the nearest Metro station.

Fairfax Circulator study

Fairfax County is looking for public comments on a transit plan to get people around Tysons. The county’s Draft Tysons Circulator Study, which has recommendations for a transit network, is been posted online at this Web site: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/tysons/transportation/tysonscirculator.htm

Comments can be sent to dot-tysonscirculatorstudy@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The deadline is Dec. 15. Once all comments are reviewed, the county said, a Final Tysons Corner Circulator Study will be presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Shopping traffic

Each holiday season, the Virginia Department of Transportation customizes the signal timing at several hundred intersections to better balance the commuter traffic and the surging number of shoppers.

The signal timings are affected around these shopping areas: the Tysons malls, Reston Town Center, Fair Lakes Shopping Center, Fair Oaks Mall, Potomac Mills mall, Manassas Mall, the Route 234 shopping centers, Springfield Mall, Cascades Town Center, Potomac Run Center, Dulles Town Center, the Leesburg outlets, Dulles 28 Centre, Central Park shopping center and Spotsylvania Towne Centre.

Maryland uses a different system, with signals responding to current demand throughout the year. No matter how the signals operate, they have to be red some time, and they can be overwhelmed by holiday traffic.

Besides those Virginia shopping areas, other hot spots include Rockville Pike, Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 100 near Arundel Mills, and I-295 and I-95 near National Harbor.

H Street parking

The District Department of Transportation has added H Street NE between Third and 15th streets and Benning Road to its performance-based parking zones. Rates at about 400 meters and the time restrictions for them will change to reflect demand in the entertainment district.

DDOT has installed more than 100 smart meters that allow payment by credit or debit cards as well as by coins. Motorists can also pay by phone.

All meters along the H Street corridor will require payment from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. There will be a two-hour parking limit from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. After 6:30 p.m., there are no time limits on any D.C. meters, but drivers must continue to pay till 10 p.m. (I know some people find this confusing. “No time limit” doesn’t equal “no pay.” It just means you can pay for a longer period.)

The rates are 75 cents per hour from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and $2 per hour from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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Robert Thomson · November 30, 2012