Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: New walk signal in D.C., Silver Line progress in Tysons

Robert Thomson
Columnist May 4, 2013
New way to cross

The District Department of Transportation has put in an unusual style of pedestrian crossing on Connecticut Avenue at Northampton Street NW, just a bit south of Chevy Chase Circle.

For the pedestrians, it’s rather simple: Just push a button and wait for the walk sign. For drivers, it’s a bit more complicated: The warning signals are dark until the pedestrian hits the button. Then orange lights are followed by solid red lights.

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

At this point, the approaching cars should be stopped to allow pedestrians to cross. The red lights then start flashing, indicating cars can proceed with caution after stopping at the crossing.

Some pedestrians I spoke with there are worried about whether the cars really will stop. They should always be concerned about that, but this warning system should really get drivers’ attention — something that doesn’t always happen on a multilane crossing where motorists tend to get up a good head of steam.

This type of crossing is known as a HAWK, an abbreviation somehow derived from “high-intensity activated cross-walk.” The city’s first one was installed on Georgia Avenue at Hemlock Street NW in 2009.

Roosevelt Bridge closing

The Roosevelt Bridge over the Potomac River is scheduled to close on Sunday from 8:20 to 9:10 a.m. and from 1 to 1:30 p.m. while a movie crew uses it. (My colleague Mark Berman tells me the movie is a “Captain America” sequel.)

Alternative routes include the 14th Street Bridge and the Memorial Bridge.

Purple Line meetings

The managers of the Maryland Transit Administration’s Purple Line light-rail project have scheduled five open houses in May to discuss progress. Here’s the schedule for this coming week:

●Tuesday, 5 to 8 p.m., Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Pl., Silver Spring.

●Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m., Riverdale Elementary School, 5006 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale.

●Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Langley Park Community Center, 1500 Merrimac Dr., Hyattsville.

Silver Line progress

Construction of the Silver Line’s first phase through Tysons and out to Reston is scheduled to end in September, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project says.

Before that, drivers along Route 7 in Tysons will encounter a great deal of roadwork as crews put the roadway into its final alignment, install traffic signals and put in landscaping.

Workers are paving the lanes closest to the median and moving the three left lanes into their final configuration. This will be followed by demolition and reconstruction on what will become the permanent fourth lane and the final curbs and sidewalks.

Dominion Virginia Power will install the streetlight poles.

East-West Highway

The Maryland State Highway Administration is resurfacing a mile of East-West Highway between New Hampshire Avenue and Riggs Road.

The project, which began last summer, is replacing deteriorated pavement on the heavily traveled route between Takoma Park and Hyattsville. Work on this phase should be done in late June. Watch for lane closings Sunday through Thursday nights.

11th Street Bridge Project

The District Department of Transportation is demolishing the old outbound freeway bridge over 11th Street on the Capitol Hill side of the Anacostia River as part of the rebuilding of the 11th Street Bridge. To clear a work zone this weekend, DDOT has closed 11th Street SE between M and K streets from 7 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Mount Vernon Trail

Watch for detour signs on the Mount Vernon Trail between Waynewood Boulevard and Collingwood Road in Fort Hunt. The National Park Service is rebuilding trail bridges in this area.

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

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