Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Beltway speeds, transportation spending

Robert Thomson
Columnist June 22, 2013
Speed limit rising

The Virginia Department of Transportation has been placing new 65 mph speed limit signs along the 495 Express Lanes, and the change from the 55 mph limit is scheduled to take effect this week.

Travelers have been commenting on this during our recent online discussions. I think it’s fine to raise the speed limit. But I don’t recall seeing a vehicle going less than 65 mph in those lanes since they opened in November.

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

The speed limit in the Capital Beltway’s regular lanes will remain 55. One commenter asked if this change was setting up a haves and have-nots scenario for Beltway drivers. I think if drivers want to resent the express lanes, they’ll use the “Lexus lanes” argument, saying it’s unfair for drivers who can afford a toll to get a congestion-free trip.

A higher speed limit already is available to carpoolers who use the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes in the Interstate 95/395 corridor.

So far, so good

People who care how the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority spends the millions of dollars it is about to get have different opinions about whether plans are too local, too weighted toward transit or roads or too ambitious at the start.

But they generally have good things to say about the process. The NVTA has done a great deal of work in a short time, which is remarkable since the authority doesn’t have a staff.

The authority members — local and state officials with other full-time jobs — are tapping staff from the jurisdictions encompassed by the NVTA. “We are really blessed to have an extraordinary team of people,” Chairman Martin E. Nohe said at its meeting Thursday night.

Nohe and other authority members have done a fine job keeping the project selection process open for public involvement, and extensive background information is available on the authority’s Web site, www.
thenovaauthority.org
.

The NVTA set another public hearing on proposed projects for 6 p.m. July 24 at Fairfax City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St.

Is it summer?

Trying to monitor where the worst morning highway traffic is, I noticed some shrinkage of the usual trouble spots during the past week.

What I look for between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. are the longest sustained stretches of slow-moving traffic displayed on traffic maps and in cameras. Last week’s trouble spots were the same as always, leading with Interstate 295, D.C. 295 and Suitland Parkway near the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River; the Beltway’s outer loop through Silver Spring; portions of I-395 north to the 14th Street Bridge, and portions of I-66 near Manassas, Route 50 and the Beltway.

But the badness looked less bad last week. Is the summer pattern finally showing up?

VRE speed restrictions

This coming week, CSX will work on tracks between L’Enfant and an area south of Woodbridge. While this won’t occur during Virginia Railway Express service hours, VRE warned rail commuters that there might be some lingering speed restrictions after the work is complete.

Pedaling professionally

Cycling enthusiasts have organized a Wednesday evening discussion called “Pedaling Professionally,” during which they will share tips for women commuting by bike to professional settings.

Malaika Abernathy of the D.C. Office of Planning will moderate a panel that will include Harriet Tregoning, director of the planning office; Delores Simmons, a law clerk with the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia; Elizabeth Lyttleton, a mentor in the Washington Area Bicyclists Association Women and Bicycles program; and Keya Chatterjee, who works with the World Wildlife Fund.

The session is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave. NW.

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

SECTION: {section=local, subsection=trafficandcommuting}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=local, subsection=trafficandcommuting}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments