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Dr. Gridlock's traffic, transit tips

Saturday, January 22, 2011; 5:24 PM

Foggy Bottom escalators

On Monday, Metro plans to start replacing the three old and often-out-of-service escalators between 23rd Street NW and the station mezzanine at Foggy Bottom. Also, workers will add a staircase to that bank of escalators. Above it all will be a canopy to better protect the works from the weather. This year-long project will cost about $6 million.

Foggy Bottom's escalators have long been cursed by riders, because they must all funnel through one station exit. Frequently, they would find two of the aging escalators out of service for repairs. That would require Metro to turn off the remaining escalator so riders could use it as a staircase. This created long lines on the mezzanine and street as people made their way slowly up and down.

During the escalator replacement, workers will take one escalator out of service at a time. Another one of the three will go up, and the other one down.

Delays in Manassas

For a few weeks, drivers may encounter construction delays in either direction on Route 28 (Nokesville Road) near Wellington Road. One of two lanes will be closed between Technology Drive and Cockrell Road through the first week of February. As an alternative, drivers can use Godwin Drive and Sudley Road.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is building a four-lane bridge on Route 28 over Wellington Road and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks in Manassas to eliminate the at-grade crossing. On a typical weekday, 20 trains and about 23,500 vehicles make their way through that area.

The project is scheduled to be done in November 2012. It was advanced five years on Virginia's long-term plan thanks to the addition of $18.3 million in federal stimulus money. The total price will be about $44 million.

Falls Church cameras

The warning period is over for the red-light enforcement cameras that Falls Church turned on last month at Broad and Cherry streets and at Broad Street and Annandale Road. The owners of vehicles caught running red lights will be fined a minimum of $50.

Montgomery intersection

The construction activity around the very busy intersection of Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road in Montgomery County is preliminary work for the long-planned interchange that should ease that bottleneck.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, which is in charge of the project, closes lanes and shifts traffic to accommodate a very complex set of utility relocations that must precede the start of the interchange construction, which isn't scheduled to get underway till 2013. The utility relocation should be wrapped up by spring.

state of the union

Avoid the streets around the U.S. Capitol building Tuesday evening. Some streets will be blocked off starting at 7 p.m., because President Obama is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address at 9 p.m. This includes blocks of main arteries, such as Constitution, Independence and Pennsylvania avenues. The traffic restrictions imposed by the U.S. Capitol Police will remain in place until the event is over.

Great falls bridge

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to reopen the one-lane bridge on Leigh Mill Road over Difficult Run in Great Falls by noon Thursday. The bridge has been closed to traffic since July 12. It was originally scheduled to reopen by Labor Day, but in August, VDOT said, its engineers determined that the bridge abutments and wing walls were in worse condition than previous inspections revealed, and the entire substructure would have to be demolished and replaced.

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

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