Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I'd like to pose a question to some of your readers: What is going through your mind when you zoom around a line of cars and cut in at the front?
I drive to the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington every day by taking Route 4 in Calvert County and then turning left onto the Suitland Parkway in Prince George's County. Most mornings, there are long backups waiting to make that turn.
Every single day, I watch drivers come up on the right and cut in at the head of the line. This slows down those of us who have waited our turn to make the left.
Why do you do this? What makes your appointment or job more important than mine?
I would love to hear from line cutters. One of them once told me that it was the fault of all the victims because they let him in. If they didn't do that, he wouldn't cut in, he explained.
Maryland State Police advise that you report such chronic illegal behavior to the barracks nearest the problem, in this case the Forestville barracks at 301-568-8101. Or call #77 on a cell phone. Line-cutting in traffic is no more acceptable than cutting in a line of people at a bank or a fast-food restaurant -- or anywhere else.
Green Line Progress Report
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Could you provide us with the latest timetable on the new Green Line Metro stations and the surrounding road improvements?
Already we've had one problem: Traffic on Branch Avenue into the District used to fill two lanes on an extra-wide, unmarked lane approaching Southern Avenue. One of the lanes would turn right onto Southern Avenue, and one would continue into the District.
Workers have put barrels on this wide lane, and now we have only one lane into the District. Traffic is backed up as early as 6 a.m. Will we get our Branch Avenue lanes back at Southern Avenue?
Yes, but first this: Five Green Line stations -- Congress Heights in the District and Southern Avenue, Naylor Road, Suitland and Branch Avenue in Prince George's County -- are scheduled to open in the spring of 2001. That will mark the end of construction on the original 103-mile Metrorail system.
Work is underway now on the reconstruction of nearby Branch Avenue (Route 5) between Southern Avenue and Silver Hill Road (Route 458).
Branch Avenue will be widened, with an additional southbound lane installed between Southern Avenue and Silver Hill Road. New curbs, gutters, sidewalks and road surface also will be provided in this corridor. Naylor Road between the District line and Branch Avenue also is scheduled for curb, gutter, sidewalk and resurfacing improvements.
All this work is scheduled to be completed by next spring. Construction is supposed to take place around rush hours. Although Branch Avenue is a major corridor into the city, the Maryland State Highway Administration does not expect enough congestion from this work to warrant establishing a detour.
And, yes, Mr. Alton, you will get your wide lane back on inbound Branch Avenue at Southern Avenue. The state is going to stripe that area so that you have two lanes.
Please keep Dr. Gridlock posted with your observations on this major construction project.
A Bike Commuter No More
You may recall a commuter named Geoffrey Atkinson (Dr. Gridlock, May 17), who used to travel from Columbia to Northern Virginia. He wrote that after enduring a miserable commute for years, he went looking for and found a job a five-minute bike ride from his home in Columbia. He said his life was renewed because of the time saved commuting, and he recommended that others take such a step.
And now, an update:
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Well, my five-minute commute by bike is over. It seems that the company that I took a job with is in trouble financially, and after two glorious months, I was laid off.
I now have a great job that is 20 minutes away by car. It is no bike ride, but 20 minutes is a cakewalk compared with what I (and many others) used to deal with.
You're still ahead of the game. But it's hard to chase jobs and keep a reasonable commute, as we are finding out.
Standing Up for the Neighborhood
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I read with interest in your May 17 column the item from a disgruntled bar patron in Adams-Morgan and the problem she had with ticket writers. We do not condone overly aggressive ticket writers, but I wanted to point out that this was the second time within recent months you have spoken negatively about our neighborhood.
Mike Gould, president of the Kalorama Citizens Association, responded to you about your recent article on aggressive parking jockeys, which was never printed.
Clearly, in neighborhoods where you have active residents in proximity with the most exciting entertaining and dining area in the city, there are going to be problems, and I want to assure you and your readers that we are all working on those problems:
We continually urge the police to crack down on parking jockeys and panhandlers.
We are about to break ground on a parking facility that will ease parking for visitors in our neighborhood.
The Green Line stop at Columbia Heights will open on Sept. 18, just a few blocks from the Adams-Morgan restaurant district.
A shuttle bus service will begin shortly that will move people from Metro stops into the heart of Adams-Morgan.
We are encouraging Metro to extend its hours beyond midnight to accommodate visitors.
We are proud of the many activities that Adams-Morgan provides but are quite concerned that you have done nothing to encourage people to come into our neighborhood. We are a vibrant, inner-city neighborhood and should get more respect from you. We urge your readers to continue to come to Adams-Morgan.
Executive Vice President
Kalorama Citizens Association
I will continue to carry reader concerns about parking problems and also am happy to write about efforts to resolve them. Please keep me posted on details of the new parking facility and the shuttle bus service.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Thursday in Southern Maryland Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.