Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips

Columnist August 13, 2011
Maryland launches 511

The Maryland State Highway Administration has activated its 511 traffic information system, joining Virginia and many other states in providing frequent updates on travel conditions via a Web site, telephone service and Twitter.

The Web address is MD511.org. The main Twitter page is md511.org/TwitterRegions.aspx, where you can narrow down the feed to a region. The D.C. area is called Capital/Southern Maryland. The phone number is 511. Call that from a phone in Maryland and it leads to a conversation with a voice-recognition system, responding to your prompts with information about travel times, road incidents, work zones and weather reports as well as connections to transit, airport and tourism information.

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. View Archive

Drivers who register on the Web site can set up personalized reports that focus the travel reports, either for viewing on the Web or listening on the phone. About the phones and Twitter: The systems are pretty easy to use and have lots of useful information, but it’s best to use them before you get behind the wheel, or after you pull out of traffic.

Metro disruption

The transit authority plans to shut five stations on the eastern side of the Red Line next weekend. Buses will replace trains between Fort Totten and Glenmont during the maintenance project. The Takoma, Silver Spring, Forest Glen, Wheaton and Glenmont stations will be closed. Also next weekend, Orange Line trains are scheduled to share a track between Vienna and West Falls Church, and Blue Line trains will share a track between Stadium-Armory and Addison Road, and between Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon City to clear work zones for other maintenance projects.

Beltway/Gallows Road

The Virginia Department of Transportation has opened the new northbound Gallows Road (Route 650) bridge over the Capital Beltway, part of the high occupancy toll lanes project, which includes the widening of the bridges and overpasses on the western side of the Beltway. With the opening, the bridge now has two lanes of traffic in each direction. Access to the inner loop has been restored. That includes the left turn lane and traffic signal from southbound Gallows Road.

Lane closings before the bridge will continue, as crews work on the curbs and gutters along southbound Gallows Road until late August. Leading up to the bridge, southbound traffic will have one through lane, and the right lane will continue onto the outer loop, until the curb and gutter work is done. At that point, traffic will have two through lanes approaching the bridge on southbound Gallows Road.

Beltway/Braddock Road

Another phase of the bridge reconstruction work for the HOT lanes also has wrapped up: The new eastbound Braddock Road bridge over the Beltway allows two lanes for through traffic and restores the merge lane from the outer loop onto eastbound Braddock Road.

The restored merge lane will provide an extended merge area on the bridge. Workers will remove the traffic signal that was on the ramp. Lane closings in the Braddock Road area will continue while crews complete ramps and do other work for the new HOT lanes connection, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

I-95 lane closings

Monday through Thursday nights for the next three weeks, nighttime drivers are likely to encounter delays on southbound Interstate 95 in the Lorton area, where the Virginia Department of Transportation will close lanes for pavement work.

From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m, three lanes between Exits 161 and 163 are scheduled to close. The I-95 high occupancy vehicle lanes will be open southbound to all traffic from 6 to midnight each night. The closings will be repeated Aug. 22-25 and Aug. 29-Sept. 1.

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

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