Dr. Gridlock's traffic and transit tips

Saturday, February 12, 2011; 5:41 PM

Metro should keep talking

Metro board members, led by one of their newest members, Tom Downs, engaged in an overdue discussion last week of the transit authority's decision to randomly inspect passengers to see if they are terrorists. While some thought the mention of the word "security" should be sufficient to shut off debate, others like another new board member, Kathy Porter, proved more willing to question authority.

The board should continue this positive trend toward civil dialogue on an issue of great concern to riders, perhaps even involving riders in future conversations. A good start would be for the board's Customer Service Committee to engage with the Riders' Advisory Council and the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Service cut with benefits?

While some Metro boards seemed reluctant to converse with riders about the most reasonable ways to protect them from being blown up, that did not apply to the issue of potential service cuts. The board is very likely to hold meetings with riders about a set of ideas that could save millions of dollars, especially if local jurisdictions fail to increase their Metro subsidies.

There's one service cut that could provide a long-term benefit in exchange. Metro desperately needs to find more time for maintenance over the next few years. Cutting back on the night owl service on Friday and Saturday nights would not only save $5 million a year, but also add the equivalent of 45 days a year to the time available for maintenance. Would such a trade be worthwhile?

Prince William slugs

A big chunk of the park and ride area at the Potomac Mills mall is scheduled to disappear on Monday, and many of the casual carpoolers known as sluggers still will be searching for a new base. The mall's managers announced in January that they would cut the commuter parking area from 1,000 to 275 spaces, to create room for more commercial development.

Prince William County officials are trying to come up with new parking nearby. But in the meantime, they suggest these other parking areas that tend to have space available: The commuter lot on Annapolis Way near I-95 and Route 123, which is served by Lake Ridge OmniRide buses; the Dale City commuter lot at Dale Boulevard and Gemini Way, served by Dale City OmniRide buses; the Lindendale commuter lot at Dale Boulevard and Quate Lane; the Hillendale commuter lot at Hillendale Road near Dale Boulevard; and the Kmart on Dale Boulevard in Dale City.

Beltway in Tysons

Construction of the bridges that will carry the new Metrorail line over the Capital Beltway at Route 123 in Tysons Corner is now set to begin Wednesday night. This will require closing three lanes of the Beltway's inner loop (northbound I-495) overnights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This week's work is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday nights. Then it will continue nightly Sundays through Fridays for the next five weeks. Northbound through traffic will be allowed to use the single open lane only, so expect significant delays.

The exit ramps to Route 123 also will be closed overnights. Drivers who need to reach Route 123 will be directed to continue north on the Beltway, exit at Georgetown Pike (Route 193), turn around at Georgetown Pike, then enter the southbound Beltway, the outer loop. Drivers will be able to exit to both directions of Route 123 from the southbound Beltway.

Burroughs Avenue

The District Department of Transportation is shifting all traffic to the north side of Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE between Minnesota Avenue and 55th Street, to accommodate construction along the southern curb lane of the roadway.

The traffic lane shift will remain in place through May. One through lane in each direction will remain open, and curbside parking will be restricted.

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

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