Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Daunting commutes, streetcar plans, date spots

Robert Thomson
Columnist March 2, 2013
Daunting commutes

A question during Monday’s online chat illustrated a common problem for couples in the D.C. region: “My husband and I are contemplating purchasing a home, and the best neighborhood we can come up with to meet our budget works well on every factor except his commute. He would be driving from a Silver Spring neighborhood near the Beltway to the Worldgate Centre in Herndon . . . but we’re trying to get a sense of how to make this workable and what . . . commute times might be.”

The morning rush won’t be so bad, considering that it’s about 26 miles on the Capital Beltway and Dulles Toll Road. The trip home at rush hour is likely to be ghastly, especially on the Beltway’s inner loop from the American Legion Bridge through Bethesda, one of the region’s worst bottlenecks. I’d allow about an hour and 15 minutes for the morning trip, though that might go quicker, and two hours for the afternoon.

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

Readers’ advice: Consider a residence in Virginia.

Suffrage centennial

Some downtown Washington streets will be closed Sunday for the 100th anniversary reenactment of the 1913 women’s suffrage march. The reenactment, sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Capitol and end with a noon rally at the Washington Monument.

These streets will be closed at 9 a.m. and reopen by 2 p.m.: Third Street, between Independence Avenue SW and Constitution Avenue NW; Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between Third and 15th streets; 15th Street NW, between Pennsylvania Avenue and New York Avenue; and 17th Street NW, between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues.

I-66 plan reviews

In Virginia, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation have scheduled two public hearings on their plans for long-term changes along the Interstate 66 corridor between the Capital Beltway and Route 15 in Prince William County.

The draft environmental impact statement to be reviewed is online at www.helpfix66.com.

The first hearing is scheduled for March 13 at Four Points by Sheraton, 10800 Vandor Lane, Manassas. The second will be held March 14 at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church. Both are scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m.

Streetcars coming

I recall two ribbon cuttings for the D.C. streetcar system under two mayors during the past decade, and I’m still waiting for the streetcar. But D.C. Department of Transportation officials say this time, it’s for real.

They had a meeting Feb. 26 with people who live along the H Street/Benning Road corridor to review the final construction and deployment schedule for the first line, and have added information to a Web site, www.dcstreetcar.com.

Work programs that will include installation of power substations, wiring and signals are scheduled to begin in late March and continue into October, after which the streetcars will be tested along the route before service begins, possibly by the end of the year.

‘Love Train’ guide

The Post’s Going Out Guide offers a new perspective on transit, or perhaps on dating, with its interactive map called “Love Train.” The GOG has come up with date spots near many stations in the Metrorail system.

There still are plenty of stations lacking such sites, a reminder that transit-oriented development has its limits. Shady Grove station, surrounded by concrete and asphalt for park-and-ride commuters, is fallow ground for this feature.

On the other hand, the listings for spots near Silver Spring, Gallery Place or Court House have clearly not reached their full potential. The editors invite submissions, including suggestions via the Twitter hashtag #metrodates.

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

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