Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wonder if there are any regulations on the placement of reflectors on the huge construction bins (also known as dumpsters) that are sometimes left in the street to hold trash while homes are being remodeled?

My Bethesda neighborhood is one of narrow streets and no sidewalks, and at night, cars often don't see those bins until they are almost on top of them. This strikes me as a potentially dangerous situation, one that could be easily corrected by placing some kind of reflectors on the bins.

Rosalyn E. Jona


Montgomery County requires that anyone using one of these construction trash bins get a permit. Only if the bin can't be placed anywhere else will a county inspector allow placement on a street. Even then, the container must be surrounded by lighted barricades, according to Nick Kotzalas, a construction plans analyst for the Department of Permitting Services.

"I suspect that what the lady is seeing are construction trash bins placed without a permit. That means we haven't had a chance to check for safety," Kotzalas said.

If you see one of these in a street, without lighted markings, let Kotzalas know at 301-217-2111. After June 28, when the county changes phone numbers, the new number for Kotzalas will be 240-777-6295.

He said he thought there had been traffic accidents involving these containers, but Dr. Gridlock was unable to track down any through Montgomery County police.

If you are aware of any such problems in your jurisdiction, please let Dr. Gridlock know. These are a potential danger on our roads.

Taking HOV Lanes to Dulles Airport

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I hope you can clear up some confusion about this: I have been told that vehicles with single occupants are permitted to use Interstate 66 during the HOV-2 (car-pool) restrictions if they are traveling to an airport to catch a flight.

Does this apply to Dulles International and Reagan National airports? Does it apply to all HOV lanes? Do you have to be catching a flight, or can you be driving from the airport after arriving? If stopped, how are you going to prove you are catching a flight if you have an electronic ticket, which means nothing on paper?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

Bob Wolfinger


You get an exemption from HOV restrictions only on I-66 inside the Capital Beltway, and only if you are conducting business at Dulles Airport, according to Joan Morris, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

These exemptions do not apply to the Dulles Toll Road, or to use of National Airport.

State police are used to talking with drivers who claim to be on airport business, and the police have a pretty good instinct whether they are hearing the truth, according to Lucy Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

The Widening of Route 355

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The widening of Frederick Road (Route 355) in the Gaithersburg area has been going on for some time. We badly need this improvement. Can you provide a status report?

Karl and Cathy Jacobson


Route 355, between Route 124 and Middlebrook Road, is being widened from a two-lane road to six lanes, divided, plus left turn lanes. It is 2.7 miles long. With the completion of bridge work and a final resurfacing, the project should be completed by October, according to David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

A Pedestrian's Plea

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Please remind our area drivers that they have to yield to pedestrians! When the crosswalk sign changes from WALK to DON'T WALK, that doesn't mean open season on people in the crosswalk.

I can't tell you how many times drivers have nearly run me down as they yell and point to the DON'T WALK sign as proof they are within their rights to thread through a string of pedestrians.

Joe Shepherd


Okay, drivers, please yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. It is the law, as well as common courtesy. Drivers in this metropolitan area seem to be particularly rude to pedestrians.

And pedestrians, please don't step off the curb after the DON'T WALK sign is displayed. It's not your turn anymore.

Board Member Asks for Ideas

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been an avid reader of your column since you started it. Now that I have been appointed by the governor as Northern Virginia's representative to Virginia's Transportation Safety Board, I read it with an eye toward ideas for our board.

If you or other readers have any suggestions, please let me know. I can be reached at 703-502-0161, or by mail at P.O. Box 5557, Arlington, Va. 22205, or by e-mail at Thank you.

James Parmelee


Here's a suggestion: Those treadlike impressions at the edges of some interstate highways can provide a rumbling sound that will wake up drivers who have nodded off. This seems like an inexpensive and valuable safety improvement. Parker F. Williams Jr., head of the Maryland State Highway Administration, is installing them on all new interstate road projects. (Mr. Parmelee said he would look into this for Virginia.)

It's unusual to have an appointee solicitous of what the public thinks or wants. Thank you, Mr. Parmelee.

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or email him at The Doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.