Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: I-95 closings, new Saturday buses, D.C. bike lane paving

Robert Thomson
Columnist September 14, 2013
Talking transportation

Ronald Kirby, the director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, will join me for an online chat at noon Monday.

Kirby and his staff are drafting a Regional Transportation Priorities Plan, which will look at how to better use all modes of travel — including motor vehicles, rail, bikes and our feet — to improve the ways we get around the D.C. area. The staff also asked travelers for their views on a regional plan, and they identified four top challenges: transit crowding, Metro repairs, roadway congestion and road repairs.

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

Tell us what you think the region’s priorities should be. Join us at live.washingtonpost.com/gridlock-0916.html .

I-95 closings

This weekend marked the start of a new round of HOV lane closings along 29 miles of I-95/395 in Virginia for construction of the 95 Express Lanes, the high-occupancy toll system.

Through September, the HOV lanes will close on Friday nights and remain closed until Sunday afternoons. In October, the HOV lanes will close on Friday nights and remain closed until 4 a.m. Mondays.

There are exceptions. On Oct. 11, the start of Columbus Day weekend, the HOV lanes will close overnight, but there will be no closings during the daytime. And on Sundays when the Redskins play at FedEx Field, the lanes will be open northbound by 2 p.m.

New Saturday bus

This could help ease the congestion caused by the express lanes project: The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation have launched a free Saturday bus service between the Potomac Mills Mall and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.

For the next three months, the Saturday Prince William Metro Direct service will start at 7:35 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. with buses running about every 45 minutes during peak hours. The buses will pick up and drop off passengers at the Potomac Mills Mall and the PRTC Transit Center, where passengers can also transfer to OmniLink local buses serving eastern Prince William County, or they can continue to the Metro station.

Rebuilding Interstates

Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, released a study Thursday on the need for rebuilding the half-century-old interstate highway system, which he said accounts for only 2.5 percent of our road network but handles about 25 percent of the traffic.

He noted the massive construction program needed to rebuild the Springfield interchange where the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95/395 meet in Virginia. Nationwide, there are a hundred such interchanges that need rebuilding.

Poole wants Congress to give all states permission for tolls on interstates to finance their reconstruction.

Silver service

A reader who saw my Sept. 1 column on Metro’s new standards for midday train frequency suggested I point out that the opening of the Silver Line early next year will boost midday service in the core of the D.C. region, a point emphasized by Metro’s new map of the rail system.

Once the Silver Line opens, two lines will serve the zone between East Falls Church and Rosslyn. Today, it’s just the Orange Line. Between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory, include the Blue Line, a total of three lines will cross the region’s core. So riders waiting on platforms between East Falls Church and Stadium-Armory should see an increase in midday service compared with today.

D.C. bike lane

The District Department of Transportation has launched a repaving project for the two-way bike lane on 15th Street NW. Weather permitting, DDOT said, the work should be done by Oct. 11.

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

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