Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: What’s happening with ‘single-tracking?’

Robert Thomson
Columnist August 3, 2013
Weekend Metro Riding

Metro riders are noticing that the announcements about weekend work contain fewer references to “single-tracking.” But that’s not because of a decline in the number of work zones where trains must share tracks.

Two things are happening: First, Metro is trying harder to communicate the information about the disruptions in a way riders can understand. And second, the track-work system for weekends has changed.

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

Announcements used to say that there’d be single-tracking between Station A and Station B, so anticipate delays of X minutes through the work zone. It was difficult to figure out how long a trip would take.

Now, Metro tends to say more simply that trains all along a line will run every however many minutes. Metrorail increased the space between trains.

So, if the plan works, there should no longer be delays where trains line up for their turns on the track. Once you board, you should encounter no delay.

Paving progress

During Monday’s online discussion, a traveler asked about the repaving on heavily traveled Connecticut Avenue near Jones Bridge Road and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said all work on the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.

This past week, overnight crews began the final resurfacing. The paving should be done by mid-month, weather permitting.

After that, the final work will include upgrades to the traffic signal on Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road/Kensington Parkway. This will include audible signals and countdown signs for pedestrians.

ICC bus changes

The Maryland Transit Administration’s new plan for bus service on the Intercounty Connector has taken effect. While three of the five routes were threatened with cancellation because of low ridership, only one got chopped.

That was Route 205, which operated between Germantown and College Park via the ICC. Two others were modified: Midday service on routes 202 and 203 was canceled, but a later afternoon run was added on Route 203 between Columbia and Bethesda.

I-95 alternatives

A couple with family in Raleigh, N.C., is looking for an alternative to Interstate 95 for the trip south from the D.C. area. A longtime commenter on the Dr. Gridlock blog who used to live in Durham, N.C., offered this:

Take Route 29 south past Charlottesville and Lynchburg to the Danville area. Exit onto Route 86 and follow it to Hillsborough, N.C. You then have a choice: Stay on Route 86 through Hillsborough and follow signs to Interstate 40 for the trip east to Raleigh. Or get on I-85 north toward Durham and take the exit for Route 147, the Durham Freeway. It puts you onto I-40 near the Research Triangle Park, and you then follow I-40 east to Raleigh.

Where’s I-695?

The traffic backups along the Southeast-Southwest Freeway for the District Department of Transportation’s sign-installation project really upset many drivers, but a side issue arose when DDOT referred to the work as affecting “Interstate 695.”

Isn’t that the Baltimore Beltway?

Yes, it is. And it's also the official designation for the D.C. freeway between the area south of the Third Street Tunnel and the Anacostia side of the 11th Street Bridge. New York drivers know I-695 as the Throggs Neck Expressway.

The District’s 695 designation goes back decades and stems from the original interstate plan for the region.

But it didn’t appear on highway signs until the rebuilding of the 11th Street Bridge created new freeway links that DDOT officials thought required the additional signs.

For bonus points: Where is D.C. 295?

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

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