Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Metro station work, ICC speeding, lane closings

Robert Thomson
Columnist February 9, 2013
Station work delayed

Installation of the final span of the pedestrian bridge to the Silver Line’s Wiehle-Reston East station, which had been scheduled for Friday, was postponed until Wednesday. The bridge will link the station to the parking garage under construction as part of the Reston Station development on the north side of the Dulles Toll Road/Access Highway.

ICC Speed limit

The Maryland Transportation Authority has agreed to raise the speed limit on the Intercounty Connector from 55 to 60 mph. For many drivers on the ICC, this won’t make much difference. For a driver going at the speed limit from end to end of the connector, it will save about 90 seconds. But I rarely spot drivers doing 55 now.

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

These drivers don’t object to the speed limit. They just ignore it. What they object to is enforcement of the speed limit. And there’s nothing in the decision that would end police patrols on the ICC.

Beltway HOT lanes

When and where to use the Capital Beltway’s high-occupancy toll lanes is a frequent topic in our online discussions on Mondays. On Tuesday night, I took my own recommendation about not guessing traffic conditions and instead making a choice beforehand.

I was driving along the outer loop to a meeting in Merrifield and didn’t want to be late. Traffic in the regular lanes was moving alone fine, but I didn’t know what conditions were farther south. So I entered the 495 Express Lanes, where they start north of Tysons.

Nearing Route 7, the traffic in the regular lanes slowed to a crawl and continued that way to the scene of a crash at the Route 50 interchange. Meanwhile, the express lanes were clear. After taking the exit at Gallows Road, I figured I saved about 20 minutes and got to the meeting in plenty of time.

Slippery platforms

During last Monday’s online chat, a reader noted that the new Metro platform tiles at White Flint are much easier to walk on in rain, sleet or snow, and asked if the tiles at Grosvenor station also would be replaced.

Metro is working on many of the outdoor Red Line platforms now, and eventually will replace all of the old-style tiles. The new ones look very similar. There’s still a hexagonal imprint on them, and the reddish color isn’t too different from the terra-cotta originals. But the new ones come in large sections of precast concrete. In addition to being less slippery, they will be easier to replace.

Track work reminder

Next weekend is the long holiday weekend with Presidents’ Day at the end, and Metrorail has big plans for track work. On the Blue and Orange lines, free shuttle buses will replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly and Largo Town Center. The Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Benning Road, Capitol Heights, Addison Road, Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center stations all will be closed for this switch replacement project.

On the Green Line, buses will replace trains between the College Park and Greenbelt stations. The Greenbelt station will be closed to rail passengers. This is the area where Metro is building a test track for the next generation of rail cars.

Annapolis Road project

The Maryland State Highway Administration is starting a safety-improvement project along Annapolis Road (Route 450) between the Capital Beltway off ramp and 85th Avenue in New Carrollton. It’s scheduled to be done in late fall.

A concrete barrier will be installed at the Annapolis Road/85th Avenue intersection and the left turn lane on westbound Annapolis Road to southbound 85th Avenue will be closed during the construction. Watch for detour signs.

Workers also will intermittently close lanes on Annapolis Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights.

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

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