Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Manassas traffic, Fairfax buses, D.C. parking

Robert Thomson
Columnist August 18, 2012
Second Manassas events

Watch for extra traffic in the Manassas area next weekend and beyond as Manassas National Battlefield Park and nearby communities mark the 150th anniversary of the second battle fought there in the Civil War. The main route for visitors will be Interstate 66, about a mile south of the park visitors center off Route 234 (Sudley Road).

In the city of Manassas, Prince William and West streets are scheduled to close for the weekend. Visitors can park in the city’s parking garage, adjacent to the historic train depot in Old Town Manassas. There’s also four-hour parking on side streets.

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

Parking also is available during the day at Bristoe Station Battlefield Park. For the nighttime luminary tour next Saturday, commemorating the Battle of Kettle Run, a parking option is the Bristow Shopping Center at 10438 Bristow Center Dr. Take a free shuttle to the park, starting at 7 p.m.

Various events continue into Labor Day weekend. A full schedule is at manassasbullrun.com.

Fairfax bus routes

The 495 Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway in Virginia won’t work as intended unless there’s adequate bus service on them for commuters who want to leave their cars home. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to discuss proposed bus routes and service details.


The 495 Express Lanes opening at the end of the year will not operate like Maryland’s Intercounty Connector, with its video tolling system that mails drivers without E-ZPass a bill for 150 percent of the toll. Maryland uses video tolling — reading the license plate — as an alternative to E-ZPass. (Courtesy of VDOT)

The meeting will be at the Braddock Government Center, 9002 Burke Lake Rd., in Burke. After an open house, a presentation starts at 7:30, followed by a question and answer session.

The county transportation department has proposed launching several routes early next year, starting with a route from Burke Centre to Tysons Corner. Others would operate from Lorton and Springfield. The fare isn’t set yet, but it might be $3.65 or $5.35.

No E-ZPass

During my online discussion Monday, a traveler wrote: “With the new changes to the E-ZPass fee structure, I have zero interest now in getting a transponder. However, I may be tempted from time to time to enter the Beltway express lanes if the regular lanes are backed up and I’m running late. What is the penalty for travelling in the lanes without a transponder?”

What I found out is that it’s almost certainly more than you’re going to want to pay. The 495 Express Lanes opening at the end of the year will not operate like Maryland’s Intercounty Connector, with its video tolling system that mails drivers without E-ZPass a bill for 150 percent of the toll. Maryland uses video tolling — reading the license plate — as an alternative to E-ZPass.

Virginia expects express lane users, with the exception of motorcyclists, who ride free, to have E-ZPass. A driver who doesn’t is going to get a toll bill with an administrative fee of $12.50 tacked on. (There will be a $2.50 discount if you pay online.) Virginia’s fee for a new E-ZPass transponder of the regular type is going to be 50 cents a month. I’d get the transponder.

D.C. parking permits

The District Department of Transportation said it mailed out more than 71,000 new visitor parking passes for residential neighborhoods. These passes, valid through Sept. 30, 2013, allow guests of D.C. residents to park more than two hours on blocks controlled by the Residential Permit Parking program.

If your neighbors got them and you didn’t, it may mean that DDOT doesn’t have your address on file. Call 202-673-6813 between 8:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. weekdays for more information.

DDOT said that if residents receiving passes have guests who regularly stay overnight, the guests’ vehicles may receive a warning citation issued by Department of Public Works parking enforcement staffers. If that happens, the visitors must register their vehicles through the Registration of Out of State Automobile program at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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

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