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Dr. Gridlock’s tips: 11th Street Bridge ramp opening; GW Parkway work done

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11th Street Bridge

Commuters went decades without a smooth freeway connection over the Anacostia River, but as the rebuilding of the 11th Street Bridge advanced this year, the completion of those connections became an obsession with many drivers.

One of the links opened over the summer, allowing drivers to move easily from southbound D.C. 295 onto the 11th Street Bridge and across to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

The outbound route, from the bridge to northbound D.C. 295, could open in the middle of this coming week, according to the District Department of Transportation. Commuters will find this a far better option than using the Sousa Bridge to reach D.C. 295.

ALDIE TRAFFIC CALMING

The Virginia Department of Transportation held a ceremony with local officials Tuesday in Loudoun County to mark completion of a traffic-calming project along Route 50 in Aldie. In recent years, this semirural area on the east side of the D.C. region has endured heavier and faster-moving traffic.

The project is intended to restore the feel of a village street on this part of Route 50. As traffic approaches Aldie, the speed limit drops to 25 mph. But the program uses a variety of techniques, including landscaping, raised sidewalks and varied paving materials to get drivers to slow down and to protect pedestrians.

This is the latest in a series of traffic-calming projects in Loudoun and Fauquier counties. Others have been completed in Upperville and Gilberts Corner.

Getting E-Z

Given the number of warning signs, it’s difficult to see how a driver who doesn’t have an
E-ZPass could wind up in the 495 Express Lanes, but some do. To minimize the resulting fee and hassle, a driver should go to the express lanes Web site, www.495expresslanes.com.

Click on the button that says “Missed a Toll?” and fill out the form to pay the toll, plus a $1.50 administrative fee. A driver who doesn’t do that within five days of missing the toll will get an invoice in the mail. The administrative fee on the invoice will be $12.50. If that’s not paid within 30 days, a second invoice will increase the administrative fee to $25.

A driver with a question about the invoice should call 855-495-9777 or e-mail customercare@expresslanes.com.

Refusing to pay the toll or falsely claiming carpool status for a free ride can result in these civil penalties: $50 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, $500 for a third offense within two years of the second offense and $1,000 for a fourth offense within three years of the second offense.

Transurban, the private operator of the lanes, isn’t interested in seeing drivers get fined in court. “We want your toll,” said Jennifer Aument, a Transurban vice president. In fact, the company wants drivers to enjoy the experience of using the lanes to bypass Capital Beltway congestion so they’ll do it again. The best way to enjoy the lanes is to use them as intended: Get an E-ZPass.

SoberRide reminder

The annual holiday SoberRide program, offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, began this weekend and will operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. each night through Jan. 1. The program is invaluable in helping to keep the roads safe by giving adults who have had too much to drink an alternative to driving home.

During SoberRide’s hours of operation, D.C. area residents can call the toll-free number, 800-200-TAXI (8294), and get a ride home in a cab. It’s free for the first $30 of the ride.

Last December, 2,032 people took advantage of the service.

GW Parkway

The National Park Service announced that the rock stabilization project along the northbound side of the George Washington Parkway in Rosslyn is done. All lanes are open between the Key Bridge and Spout Run.

For more transportation news, go to washingtonpost.com/transportation.

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