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Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Parkway backup, new bikeway, E-ZPass offer

GW Parkway

A relatively small project is causing extensive backups for commuters, especially during the afternoon and evening rush. It’s the rock stabilization program that has shut the left lane on the northbound George Washington Parkway in Rosslyn.

Since the construction started last month, outbound traffic has been stalling all the way back to E Street in downtown Washington, one driver told me last week. It may take half an hour to get from K Street to the Roosevelt Bridge, he said, adding that it used to take about 10 minutes.

This project, intended to prevent rocks from falling onto the parkway, is scheduled to continue almost till the end of the year.

new D.C. bikeway

After much planning, the District Department of Transportation hopes to complete the L Street NW cycle track for bicyclists in November. Cycle tracks separate bikers from motorists and pedestrians, for the most part. There’s a two-way version downtown on the west side of 15th Street NW. They take some getting used to for all travelers.

The new cycle track will occupy a lane on the north side of four-lane L Street between 25th and 11th streets. The track will be one-way eastbound, as are the other lanes on L Street.

Metro advisory council

The end of this coming week marks the deadline for applying to fill an open seat on the Metro Riders’ Advisory Council. The volunteer citizens panel seeks to fill nine spots.

Members of the 21-person council are drawn from the jurisdictions that support the Metro system.

The nine current openings are: two slots from the District, three from Montgomery County, one from Prince George’s County and two from Fairfax County. There’s also an at-large slot open.

Riders unhappy with the transit service need to get more involved in fixing it, and the council is one way. But it is a creature of the Metro board and sometimes worries too much about the board’s feelings instead of getting in its face.

Metro is accepting applications until 5 p.m. Friday. The easiest way to apply is to fill out the online form available on Metro’s Web site at www.wmata.com.

Intersection law

After the June 29 derecho caused widespread power outages, it was disheartening to see so many drivers just sailing through intersections, oblivious to pedestrians and other motorists as if they were guaranteed the right of way.

In a law that took effect this month, Maryland has broadened and clarified its law on how drivers should behave when they reach an intersection where the signals are dark.

Approaching from any direction, they must stop at a stop line before entering a crosswalk or before entering the intersection. (Just depends on the design of the intersection.) After the stop, drivers must yield to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection and wait till it’s safe to enter.

That sounds simple enough. A driver caught violating those rules is subject to a $90 fine and two points on a license. If the violation contributes to a crash, it’s $130 and three points.

New E-ZPass offer

The operators of the 495 Express Lanes have a new offer on E-ZPasses. Drivers who open a Virginia E-ZPass account in October can qualify to get one week of toll-free travel in the express lanes when they register on the 495 Express Lanes Web site (www.495
ExpressLanes.com/offer
.) Drivers who took the deal in September qualified for two free weeks.

The free week for the October participants would be Jan. 21 to 27.

The new lanes are scheduled to open by the end of the year, and drivers will need an E-ZPass for travel at any hour.

Virginia’s E-ZPass program got a lot of extra transponders to accommodate drivers who want to use the new lanes. The incentives were designed in part to spur early sign-ups and limit a last-minute rush before the lanes open.

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

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