Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips

Robert Thomson
Columnist June 1, 2012
D.C. speed cameras

Speed cameras at several dozen new locations in the District are scheduled to stop issuing warnings and start issuing fines Wednesday. The cameras have been issuing warning notices since the sites were established early in May.

The locations are all over the District, and the speed limits in those areas range from 25 to 40 mph. But I think the location that might get particular attention from drivers is on the Southwest Freeway (Interstate 395) near Exit 4, on both sides of the highway.

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

Drivers get very upset when the District places cameras along highways where they think the speed limits are too low. Near Exit 4 , which is east of the 14th Street bridge in the vicinity of Maine Avenue SW, the speed limit is 40 mph.

D.C. police say the locations were chosen based on the number of crashes and injuries, the number of calls for police service and the number of vehicles traveling at high speed. Police say they also consider recommendations from the District’s Transportation Department, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and civic groups.

Virginia E-ZPass

Virginia’s Transportation Department will accept public comments through June 12 on its proposal to impose a monthly fee of about $1 per transponder on its E-ZPass accounts. VDOT says the account fees will go to cover the rising cost of operating the program, which will expand in Northern Virginia later this year with the opening of the 495 Express Lanes.

A final decision on the fees is likely by the end of this month.

Comments can be e-mailed to vdotinfo@vdot.virginia.gov or mailed to: Office of Communications — Third Floor/Annex Building, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, Va. 23219.

HOT lanes work

The Capital Beltway seems like one continuous work zone this spring.

On Friday night, Virginia’s Transportation Department plans to close all lanes of I-395 North near the Springfield interchange. The closing, part of the 495 Express Lanes project, is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. and continue until 7 a.m. Saturday. Workers will be putting down pavement stripes for a traffic shift.

That night, I-395 North traffic will be detoured to Exit 170 (the Beltway’s inner loop). Drivers will swing around at Exit 52A and get back on the Beltway to Exit 57B for I-395 North. The traffic delays are likely to add about 20 minutes to regular travel times.

Beltway Bridge update

The Maryland State Highway Administration has modified its plan to maintain traffic during the reconstruction of the University Boulevard bridge over the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring.

Community groups were concerned about the potential for extra traffic on local streets if the exit from the Beltway’s outer loop to eastbound University Boulevard is closed during the lengthy reconstruction.

Project managers have reworked the plan to keep the ramp open for the duration of the project. The signal that controls traffic from the ramp onto University Boulevard will have to be moved, then put back when the work is done. The ramp will be reduced from four lanes to two.

The project probably will get started next spring.

Route 5 plan

It’s the season for roadwork, and it’s also the season to talk about roadwork.

Maryland’s Highway Administration plans to hold a public hearing Thursday night in Clinton on a plan to improve traffic flow in the Route 5 corridor.

The session will be held at Surrattsville High School, 6101 Garden Dr.

People can see displays about the project at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m., highway officials will spend about a half-hour describing the project before opening the meeting for public comment.

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

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