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Dr. Gridlock’s traffic and transit tips

Fall back

Following the return to standard time, commuters this week will enjoy more daylight in the mornings. But they will pay for it on the afternoon side. Some early drivers will find the setting sun shining more directly through their windshields. Those departing slightly later will have more difficulty seeing other cars, cyclists and pedestrians in the twilight.

Drivers, get into the habit of turning your car lights on earlier so you can see and be seen. Cyclists and pedestrians, remember the value of wearing light-colored clothing, and stay alert for motorists who may have trouble seeing you.

Foggy Bottom escalators

The year-long project to improve the entrance at the Foggy Bottom Metro station is heading toward the finish line. The transit authority expects to complete the replacement of the third of the three escalators in December. The new stairs and the canopy over the exit should be complete by February.

Watkins Mill Road

Montgomery County has completed a 1,500-foot extension of Watkins Mill Road in Gaithersburg from Frederick Road (Route 355) to Interstate 270. Eventually, Maryland plans to build an interchange onto Interstate 270, with Watkins Mill Road forming a key part of a new east-west transportation link. The road also could provide a link to the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway.

Till then, the extension provides access to new residences and an office park. The new segment is a four-lane divided road with a sidewalk and bikeway.

HOT lanes progress

Monday morning commuters heading through Tysons Corner should find that the Capital Beltway’s inner loop (I-495 North) has shifted to the right onto a new bridge over Chain Bridge Road.

This shift, part of the high-occupancy toll lanes project, will allow the reopening of the ramp that leads from the right side of northbound Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) onto the inner loop. That will eliminate the left turn lanes and the traffic light that served as a temporary entrance to the inner loop. The left lanes on Route 123 will be reopened to through traffic.

By the end of the year, a new flyover ramp from eastbound I-66 to the inner loop is scheduled to open. That will carry traffic onto the right lanes of the inner loop, eliminating the left-lane merge and extending the merge lane to Route 7, a huge improvement for drivers used to the very difficult left-side merge.

Rhode Island Ave. Metro

Metro plans to begin construction this week on the staircase that leads from Rhode Island Avenue to the Rhode Island Avenue station entrance. The transit authority expects the work to take about three weeks.

During that time, riders can enter the station via Washington Place through the bus bays or cross Rhode Island Avenue and use the pedestrian bridge to the station. Bus stops will be relocated temporarily.

The construction is part of the big development project adjacent to the Red Line station. Workers are building 274 residential units, 65,000 square feet of retail space and a parking garage.

Riggs Road ramp

The District Department of Transportation this week plans to permanently close the ramp from eastbound Riggs Road NE that connects to southbound South Dakota Avenue in Fort Totten. Another eastbound lane will be added to Riggs Road for traffic turning right onto South Dakota Avenue NE.

This ramp closing and others like it are part of the District’s plan to rebuild the junction from an intersection/interchange into a traditional four-way intersection, which the transportation department expects will be safer for drivers, walkers and cyclists and provide a more suitable environment for neighborhood development.

For more transportation news, visit washingtonpost.com/transportation.

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