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.
Green Line Timetable
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 two 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 be 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 three lanes.
Please keep Dr. Gridlock posted with your observations on this major construction project.
'Me First!' on Their Minds
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 establishment--or anywhere else.
Access Road Shuffle
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
A reader's comment about buying gas at Dulles International Airport in order to use the less heavily congested Dulles Access Road instead of the Dulles Toll Road hit a chord with me.
This behavior is not unusual. I have friends who go regularly to Dulles Airport to buy a cup of coffee and a paper so they can be "legal" on the Access Road. Even with this stop, they beat the traffic on the Toll Road.
Others carry Fedex packages to claim they have been to the Fedex offices on the premises. Others have even looped through short-term parking to get a parking receipt and also appear legal.
Another friend of mine used to loop through the airport every day until he got nailed by an unmarked car that followed him through the airport.
When I have been able to use the Access Road, it cuts down the trip from Herndon to Rosslyn by 30 minutes.
Traffic out west is getting worse every day as Loudoun County explodes with more town houses and malls. What's ahead?
Flood waters find the path of least resistance. It is legal to use the Access Road as long as the person has conducted business at Dulles Airport. With the frantic pace of growth in Loudoun County, though, it seems just a matter of time before the Access Road fills up with commuters.
Irked About Escalators
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I take the bus to the Pentagon Metro station and transfer there to rail. I fear my patience with Metro is gone with the closure of the escalators from the bus platform to the train.
A sign says that because of a manufacturing defect, the escalators will be down until October. The sign notes that replacement parts have been ordered.
Can you make any sense out of this? It seems like they could build several new escalators in six months. How long can it take to get replacement parts?
I realize that sometimes use of public transportation requires inconvenience, but this adds five minutes minimum to a commuter's evening rush to catch a bus.
We might also note that the breakdown requires passengers to walk an extra block to another station entrance.
Three so-called heavy-duty escalators were taken out of service at the Pentagon in early April because the steps were cracking so much it became a safety issue. The escalators, costing $491,000 apiece, are unique, built by an English company especially for Metro. Steps made for other escalators cannot be used for them, Alice Reid, a Post transportation reporter, wrote on May 7.
Further, the English company has been sold. After several weeks of negotiations, the successor company has agreed to modify a design to make steps that fit the Metro units, according to Paul Gillum, who heads Metro's escalator program.
Dr. Gridlock receives a steady stream of letters complaining about escalators out of service at particular stations, sometimes for weeks. With construction of the system coming to an end (it should be finished by 2001), Metro is going to have to focus even more time and resources on its escalators.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday and Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at email@example.com. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.