Dr. Gridlock's traffic, transit tips

Saturday, January 1, 2011; 3:02 PM

Dulles Toll Road fare increase

Commuters returning to work Monday will find they are being charged an extra 25 cents at the main plaza on the Dulles Toll Road. As of New Year's Day, the fee for cars is $1.25. The car toll at the ramps remains 75 cents.

The tolls are one of the methods being used to finance construction of the new Metrorail line out to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the toll road and is building the new rail line, plans to increase the tolls at the plaza by another quarter in 2012.

Woodfield Road widening

The Maryland State Highway Administration recently completed a $55 million project on Route 24 between Airpark Road and Rosewood Manor Lane in Gaithersburg.

The work, which began in spring 2008, widened Woodfield Road from two to three lanes in each direction, for a total of six lanes. Planners hope this extra capacity will reduce congestion.

The project included installation of sidewalks and ramps along both sides of MD 124 between Airpark Road and Rosewood Manor Lane and the widening of the outside lanes on Woodfield to accommodate bicyclists. The highway administration says an average of 29,000 vehicles a day use that part of Woodfield Road, a number the state expects will rise to 48,000 by 2030.

Paving projects ahead

Maryland doesn't have many roads or interchanges on tap in its 2011 construction program in the Washington area, but there are some roadway resurfacing projects that travelers will welcome. In Montgomery County, for example, University Boulevard will be repaved between Arcola Avenue and Colesville Road, Georgia Avenue between Glenallan Avenue and Connecticut Avenue, and Old Georgetown Road between Rockville Pike and North Brook Lane.

In Prince George's County, the inner loop of the Capital Beltway will be resurfaced between Branch Avenue and D'Arcy Road.

Seasonal signal timing

A sure sign the holidays are over: The Virginia Department of Transportation this weekend is returning the traffic signals to their normal timing in the shopping areas in Northern Virginia. For a decade, the department has reset the lights to accommodate the increased shopping traffic and to minimize backups between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Phone-in parking payments

Montgomery County plans to expand its pay-by-cellphone parking meter system this spring to include 11,000 meters in Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Montgomery Hills and North Bethesda. Drivers will recognize the meters by a decal that includes the telephone number and Web site for the contractor, MobileNow, and the meter number.

To use a pay-by-cellphone meter, call 301-830-7074 and follow the prompts to enter the meter number and the desired amount of parking time.

A voice and text message will confirm the start of the parking session.

The system can generate a text-message reminder when parking time is about to expire.

Expedited escalators

The transit authority says it is trying to speed up the modernization of four escalators at the busy Gallery Place and Union Station Metro stations. Metro said last week that it hopes to get the rehabilitation projects done in eight weeks rather than the usual 12 by working repair crews in two shifts rather than one. The effort is scheduled to begin early this month and continue through February.

The escalators at Gallery Place are at the Seventh Street entrance. The ones at Union Station are near the First Street entrance.

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

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