The last call for New Year's resolutions for our local transportation officials concludes with more suggestions.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Route 50 in Prince George's County is the scene of daily morning tie-ups in the Cheverly area. These jams are caused by a reduction in the number of lanes inbound after Route 410.
Maryland should resolve to either widen Route 50 from Route 410 to Kenilworth Avenue or allow the use of the right shoulder during morning rush hours.
I realize the shoulders are used for disabled vehicles, but the price for that is congestion, and rush-hour shoulder use seems to work in many places, including Northern Virginia.
The Maryland State Highway Administration has spent many years converting Branch Avenue (Route 5) into an expressway. Now you can travel from the Capital Beltway south to Surratts Road without stopping for a traffic light!
There is no more gridlock, but there is a new problem--speeders. The posted speed limit is 55 mph, but drivers regularly go 75 mph. This is a safety hazard for those of us who try to obey the speed limit.
Please resolve to increase law enforcement on this stretch.
Virtually every day I see a Prince George's County police car on the Beltway, speeding past all other traffic. I have even seen a female officer speeding at 70 to 75 mph while putting on makeup.
The simple fact is that no one takes traffic laws seriously because police do not take them seriously. Since there is no expectation of traffic enforcement, there is no incentive to follow traffic laws.
The police should resolve to set an example for us, as drivers and in enforcing traffic laws.
Officials should resolve to synchronize some of the traffic lights in the county.
I drive south on Route 1 to Beltsville three times a week during evening rush hour, and the lights are not synchronized at all. You can sit at a red light at Muirkirk Road and watch the next light turn green and then red just as you get there.
Thomas E. Wilson
Be it resolved that Montgomery County will clear the shrubbery from in front of all signs on Connecticut Avenue between the Beltway and Jones Bridge Road.
Despite the cleanup efforts of the Greater Shady Grove Civic Alliance and the Mellon Bank (who participate in Montgomery County's Adopt-A-Road program), Shady Grove Road between Muncaster Mill Road and Route 355 continues to be blighted with litter on the shoulders and median.
Local and state officials, along with the county police, should resolve to conduct a periodic crackdown on trash haulers and others traveling to the Shady Grove Transfer Station who violate the laws requiring that all loads be adequately covered to prevent trash from blowing off.
How about some big fines for these people? Please help our community.
Christopher Suzich, president,
Greater Shady Grove Civic Alliance
The existing road network needs to be made as efficient as possible. Some suggestions to keep traffic moving more efficiently:
* Use higher-quality lane markings.
* Use reflectors to mark lanes in confusing places.
* Put up road-name signs well ahead of intersections, ideally over the road, so that people can get in the correct lane.
* Introduce "Slower Drivers Keep Right" signs in Maryland to avoid delays in the fast lanes.
* Prosecute red-light runners vigorously.
* Encourage telecommuting.
The state of Maryland should crack down on speeders on Interstate 270. The regular "flow" is creeping toward 75 mph, which is not safe, particularly when you have the occasional person doing 55 mph and far too many going 80 mph and tailgating.
New Year's traffic resolutions:
* D.C. police should vigorously enforce the parking restrictions along Reservoir Road NW during morning and evening rush hours. Traffic comes to a standstill near the Georgetown University Medical Center as cars, trucks and buses funnel to one lane to dodge illegally parked cars.
* Metro should inspect and update all the old, obsolete signs and station designations on its information pylons. For example, there are pylons on the upper platforms of L'Enfant Plaza station that direct riders to Green Line stations that include "Rosecroft Raceway" (deleted from the plans years ago).
* Since you cannot go from southbound Kenilworth Avenue to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, why not make it easier for out-of-town visitors by signing the route intelligently. For example, the exit to the South Capitol Street Bridge (Howard Road-Downtown), gives no indication this is the way to the South Capitol Street Bridge.
Here are my New Year's resolutions for whoever is in charge of buses for the Metro system:
* I resolve to assure that the buses run reliably and to never again skip a scheduled bus. People can't use the bus if they can't count on them coming.
* I resolve to fix the shock absorption on the bus seats so that people with arthritis or other disabilities are not in pain as they ride on the rough streets of the nation's capital.
* I resolve to fix the windows of the bus so that they do not rattle incessantly and noisily.
* I resolve to fix the wheelchair lifts so they work and to discipline drivers who fail to pick up a person who uses a wheelchair.
* I will work with the media so that information about bus schedule changes is shared as widely as information about traffic conditions.
* I will do all that I can to assure that the bus provides a realistic and reliable alternative to the automobile for those who cannot drive, prefer not to drive or even like the bus.
Dale S. Brown
The Alexandria and Arlington police departments should resolve to enforce the "Yield to Traffic in Circle" signs at the Shirlington traffic circle, just off Exit 6 on Interstate 395.
I can't tell you how many times I have almost been creamed by cars whose drivers ignore the yield signs and almost sideswipe cars already in the circle. It's extremely dangerous, especially when you are trying to exit the circle through the herd of crazed scofflaws.
Arlington County officials should either step up enforcement or come up with another way to deal with Columbia Pike traffic merging left onto Route 27 East at the same point where Route 27 East traffic is exiting right to enter the I-395 South access ramp. The yield signs are ignored.
Route 27 is a major road in Arlington. Accidents at this point close down Route 27 both ways to accommodate emergency vehicles.
Let's resolve to stop talking about our transit problems and start solving them! All we do around here is debate, argue, form committees, study issues, protest resolutions, rethink the solutions, etc., etc., etc., but we never seem to actually do anything about it.
The debate should not be whether to build roads or mass transit but how much road and mass transit to build. If we stop wasting money on political infighting, we could go a long way toward solving our transit nightmares.
I'd like to see the City of Fairfax resolve to admit that Fairfax Circle has outgrown its usefulness and needs to be replaced with an interchange (overpass-underpass) that will allow the free flow of the traffic at this critical juncture: Route 29 (Lee Highway), Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) and Route 237 (Old Lee Highway).
Northern Virginia officials should resolve to put easy-to-read overhead street signs at each intersection controlled by a traffic light. It is very difficult to read the small signs posted on the intersection corners.
Since it is always necessary to look up at the traffic light, it would be helpful to have a street sign at the same location, meaning we no longer have to locate a corner sign. Result: Traffic flow and safety would be enhanced.
William E. Stemple
The Virginia Department of Transportation should resolve to post road numbers and road names on highway signs. Most streets and roads are known to people by names (e.g. Old Keene Mill Road) and not numbers (Route 644). Note to traffic reporters: This applies to you, too.
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 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.