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Dr. Gridlock's traffic, transit tips

Saturday, February 5, 2011; 5:30 PM

Delayed gratification

For those of us who favor instant rewards, Wednesday's presentation by Metro General Manager Richard Sarles to the Riders' Advisory Council was downright gloomy. Sarles is focused on fixing things over many years.

For example, he said there's still a lot of work to do on implementing the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations, so don't look for a return to automatic train controls this year. The operators will continue to drive the trains, just as they have since the Red Line crash in June 2009, creating extra wear on the equipment and the passengers. Meanwhile, Metrorail's essential maintenance programs have become more aggressive - and therefore more disruptive - to riders. Metro is ordering new rail cars to replace old ones, but don't look for train capacity to increase significantly.

And don't look for an "Aha!" moment, when riders will discover that everything is better, Sarles said. It's a process. A long process.

Metro in 2011

But not all good things are for they who wait. This year, riders will enjoy new escalators and a stairway at Foggy Bottom Station. The Metrobus fleet is as young as it has ever been, and 100 new buses will enter service this year. Transit police have moved more officers into the system, emphasizing a presence at some stations downtown where more enforcement is needed.

Riders on the sections of the Red Line that are undergoing long-term rehabilitation should begin to experience a smoother, more reliable commute because of track improvements. Sarles describes an overall maintenance program that he thinks will reduce the number of cracked rails. The replacement program for insulators should reduce instances when these third-rail protectors arc and smoke, another source of delays.

Chinatown street closings

The Year of the Hare Chinese New Year Parade and celebration is scheduled for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the District's Chinatown. Gallery Place is the nearest Metrorail station.

These streets will be closed from 1:30 to about 3:30 p.m:

l I Street NW from Fifth Seventh streets NW

l Seventh Street NW from I to G streets NW

l G Street NW from Seventh to Ninth streets NW

l Eighth Street NW from G to H streets NW

l H Street NW from Sixth to Eighth streets NW

l Sixth Street NW from Massachusetts Avenue to G Street NW

I Street NW from Fifth to Sixth streets NW will be closed at 9 a.m. to allow the paraders to assemble and should reopen by 3:30 p.m. H Street NW from Sixth to Seventh streets NW will be closed for the festival at 9 a.m. and should reopen by 5 p.m.

Metrobus routes 70, 80, P6 and X2 will detour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. around the 600 block of H Street NW.

Old Georgetown ROad

The Maryland State Highway Administration is starting a $1 million safety and resurfacing project along a mile of Old Georgetown Road between North Brook Lane and Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Bethesda. The work is scheduled to be completed in the fall.

Sidewalk upgrades are included in the project. Pedestrian access will be maintained on one side of Old Georgetown Road throughout that work.

One lane on Old Georgetown will be closed weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. During the final phase of work, which includes paving, there will be double lane closings Sundays through Thursdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Georgia Avenue

The District Department of Transportation is working along Georgia Avenue NW between Taylor and Upshur streets through Feb. 15. Single lanes on the northbound side will be closed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., weather permitting.

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

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