Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips

Robert Thomson
Columnist May 4, 2012
baseball

The Nationals wrap up their series with the Phillies at Nationals Park on Sunday night, starting at 8:05. Metro’s weekend repairs will continue to disrupt service on all five rail lines.

The most significant disruption affects fans who normally would park at stations on the north side of the Green Line. Weekend rail service has been replaced by free shuttle buses between Greenbelt and Fort Totten. Metro estimates that using the buses will add 50 minutes to your travel time.

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

Fans who normally park at those north-side stations on the Green Line could consider other transit options, such as the Orange Line’s New Carrollton station or the Branch Avenue station on the south side of the Green Line.

Many fans who might otherwise take transit may choose to drive. There’s more off-street parking than there used to be to the north and east of Nationals Park, but some places are likely to be crowded: areas around South Capitol and M streets; the Southeast-Southwest Freeway; the 14th Street, 11th Street and Douglass bridges; and Interstate 295/DC 295.

Beltway/I-66

Commuters on the Capital Beltway’s inner loop near Tysons Corner should find significant relief this week from a work zone bottleneck at the I-66 interchange.

The Virginia Department of Transportation worked over the weekend to restore the fourth lane on I-495 north at I-66 and open a fifth lane that will benefit drivers coming from I-66 east and heading for the inner loop’s exit to Route 7.

This is in the work zone for the 495 Express Lanes, also known as the high-occupancy toll lanes. Drivers have been shifted around as new work areas were required. But they’re starting to see some benefits, even though the project won’t be complete till the end of the year.

Hybrids can stay

In response to one of springtime’s most frequently asked questions: Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has signed a bill passed by the General Assembly that allows hybrid car drivers continued access to the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on I-95/395 and I-66, even if they don’t meet the other HOV rules.

The big change in what had been an annual extension is that the General Assembly did not include an expiration date for the exemption. Instead, the law’s new version requires the Virginia Department of Transportation to monitor traffic in the HOV lanes and notify the legislature if adjustments in the rules should be made.

This law affects only drivers who have the proper clean fuel license plates issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for use on those highways.

Bike To Work Day

May 18 is your annual chance to see what it’s like to bike to work in the D.C. region, accompanied by a support team.

More than 10,000 commuters will organize themselves into convoys at 58 designated gathering points and make the trip to work. Cyclists can register to get a free Bike to Work Day T-shirt at these pit stops, along with free food and drink and a chance to win a bicycle or other prizes.

To register online and get more details about the pit stops, visit www.biketoworkmetrodc.org.

Shady Grove bike path

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is building a bike path along the east side of the Shady Grove Metro station access road between Shady Grove and Redland roads.

The department says the path will connect to a sidewalk and a nearby bikeway network that will connect with Shady Grove Road, Crabbs Branch Way, Redland Road, Needwood Road, the Midcounty Highway and the Intercounty Connector.

Metro stations take some cars off the road, but they can also contribute to traffic on local streets.

Some commuters drive just a short distance to park at them. Bikes and buses can help ease that congestion.

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

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