The week ahead: Cherry Blossom Festival, elephant walk, new Fairfax Connector expresses


Much of the work on the Metro Silver Line is now inside the stations. Drivers on the eastbound Dulles Toll Road pass under a new pedestrian bridge, where workers are installing triangle-shaped wind screens. (Robert Thomson – The Washington Post)

Monday should be the worst weather day of the week for travelers as the D.C. region moves into cool, dry weather for the next few days, the Capital Weather Gang says. The National Cherry Blossom Festival starts Wednesday, but the events that draw big crowds won’t start till the weekend.

Because the festival brings extra crowds, Metro won’t be doing any major weekend track work until late April. There is some late-night track work through Thursday. The Capitals and Wizards are on the road, but the circus takes over Verizon Center starting Thursday. Though Wednesday is the first day of spring, the road work schedule is pretty limited.

Metro late-night delays

All this work is likely to result in delays of about 10 minutes each night through Thursday. Unless otherwise indicated, trains will share tracks around the work zones starting at 10 p.m.

Red Line: Trains will share a track between Rhode Island Avenue and NoMa-Gallaudet. On Monday and Tuesday, starting at 8 p.m., trains also will share a track between Twinbrook and Shady Grove.

Orange/Blue lines: Between Stadium-Armory and Eastern Market.

Blue/Yellow lines: On Monday and Tuesday, starting at 8 p.m, between National Airport and Braddock Road.

Green  Line: Between Fort Totten and Prince George’s Plaza.

Fairfax Connector

The Fairfax Connector announced it has started two new express routes, modified three routes and increased the number of stops on one route.

The new express routes are Route 493 from Lorton VRE Station and the Saratoga Park and Ride to Tysons and Route 494 from Franconia-Springfield Metro station and Greater Springfield to Tysons. These routes join the others already using the 495 Express Lanes. An introductory free ride period for the two new routes continues to April 12.

These are the modified routes.

  • Route 333 will now use the Franconia-Springfield Parkway during rush hour.
  • Route 334 during the morning will travel south along Cinder Bed Road and north along Fairfax County Parkway. In the afternoon, it will travel south along the parkway and north  along Cinder Bed Road.
  • Route 372 is adding rush-hour service to the Patriot Ridge Office Campus on morning southbound trips and afternoon northbound trips.
  • Route 495 is adding service to all stops between Burke VRE station and Wakefield Chapel Road.

Anacostia Freeway

The District is repairing some ramps along the Anacostia Freeway. From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, the ramp from southbound South Capitol Street to southbound Interstate 295 (Anacostia Freeway) is scheduled to close. Traffic will be detoured to the next ramp.

Elephant walk

The annual elephant walk from Capitol Hill to Verizon Center for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday, and will result in some street closings from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The walk starts by the Capitol Power Plant, New Jersey Avenue and Virginia Avenue NW and the street closings are along the way. Here is the route:

[Updated at 11:50 a.m. to fix quadrants.] North on South Capitol Street to Washington Avenue SW, northwest on Washington Avenue to Independence Avenue SW, west on Independence Avenue to Third Street SW, north on Third Street to G Street NW, west on G Street NW to the loading dock at Verizon Center.

Converting I-95 lanes

I often receive humbling reminders that readers aren’t memorizing my columns. In the middle of Monday’s online discussion, an apparently startled reader wrote: “Wait, HOT lanes? They’re going to convert the I-95 HOV lanes to HOT lanes?”

In fact, the Virginia Department of Transportation and its private partners began working last summer on converting the high-occupancy vehicle lanes in the middle of Interstate 95 to high-occupancy toll lanes similar to those in operation on the Capital Beltway. The 95 Express Lanes are scheduled to be open by the end of 2014.

Carpoolers will be able to ride for free, while others will pay a variable toll, collected via ­E-ZPass. Carpoolers will need to get the new-style E-ZPass Flex transponder, which has a special setting telling the toll reader that the vehicle is claiming the carpool exemption. Hybrids that now qualify for a free ride will lose their exemption.

Drivers may notice that crews are working just north of Edsall Road on the foundations for a new flyover bridge from the HOV lanes to the regular lanes of I-395 North. This is the area where the conversion to HOT lanes will end, but the HOV lanes will continue north in the middle of I-395 to the 14th Street Bridge.

Drivers who pay a toll to travel north on the I-95 HOT lanes because they don’t meet the carpool rules will need to leave the lanes in the Edsall Road area and get over to the regular lanes. Otherwise, they will be in violation of the HOV rules and subject to a ticket.

If this isn’t all perfectly clear, we’ll be going over it many times before the HOT lanes open on I-95. I’ve been learning from travelers’ continuing questions about the 495 Express Lanes that the HOT lanes are quite a complex concept.

14th Street Bridge

The District Department of Transportation is closing single lanes on the 14th Street Bridge through Tuesday. The closings, for maintenance work, occur from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. between Maine Avenue and Ohio Drive SW. Watch for signs indicating the open lanes.

 Work on Route 32

Watch for single-lane closings from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday nights on Route 32 in Clarksville. Temporary traffic stops of up to 30 minutes could occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. as Maryland State Highway Administration workers install steel beams over the highway for a new bridge. Use Ten Oaks Road to avoid delays.

 

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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Mark Berman | March 15, 2013