THE REGION

More Grasses Growing in Chesapeake Bay A new report from the Chesapeake Bay Program shows that bay grasses have reached the highest levels since tracking began in the late 1970s.

Compared with areas in a 2000 survey, the report shows a 10 percent increase in the upper bay, a 49 percent increase in the middle bay and a 7 percent increase in the lower bay.

Officials say the current drought has reduced the amount of nutrients and sediments that flow into the bay and rivers, and that's good for bay grasses.

The grasses are considered critical to the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, producing oxygen, sheltering fish and shellfish and serving as food for a variety of animals.

VIRGINIA

DMV Cuts Back Office Hours The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has adjusted the hours for its service centers, effective today. The department has closed 12 offices statewide and ordered all offices to shut on Wednesdays because of state budget cutbacks.

The offices in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Winchester, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax-Westfields, Franconia, Leesburg, Manassas, Tysons Corner and Woodbridge will be open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. The Springfield Mall office will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Truck Accident Blocks I-66 A tractor-trailer jackknifed on Interstate 66 in Centreville early yesterday, leaving two people with minor injuries and tying up traffic for hours, Virginia State Police said.

State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said the tractor-trailer, which was carrying drywall from Baltimore to Bealeton, was traveling west near Route 29 about 6:50 a.m. when the driver veered into another lane and struck a Virginia Department of Transportation truck. The tractor-trailer jackknifed, and the VDOT truck spun across the road, Caldwell said.

Kevin Felder, 39, of Baltimore, who was driving the tractor-trailer, was charged with reckless driving, driving on a suspended license and logbook violations, Caldwell said. He was treated and released from Prince William Hospital.

The driver of the VDOT truck, Michael Karbonski, was treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital and released.

Caldwell said traffic was tied up until about 11:30 a.m. A three-car chain-reaction collision occurred in the backup, she said.

MARYLAND

Judge to Rule on Trooper's Conversations A Caroline County judge is expected to rule within the week on whether transcripts from phone conversations can be used at the January trial of a state trooper from Preston.

The calls were made between Alvin Rehn and a 15-year-old girl he allegedly abused.

Rehn was a 28-year veteran of the state police. Charging documents say he and the girl had an improper relationship that involved three sexual encounters between summer 2001 and this spring.

Police say they had permission from the girl and her mother to monitor the calls between them and Rehn.

Rehn is charged with multiple counts of child abuse, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses, possession of child pornography, sexual and physical child abuse involving another 15-year-old girl and first- and second-degree assault charges involving the mother.

Ice Storm Puts Chill on Western Md. The school week is over in Garrett County, where an ice storm has kept schools closed and left thousands without power.

The cancellation of today's classes makes three straight days without school.

Many face an even longer period without electricity. Allegheny Energy spokesman Allen Staggers said it will be tomorrow before power is fully restored.

The company hoped to have the lights back on for all but 4,800 customers by tonight. That's down from more than 12,000.

Pedestrian Killed by Car in Bethesda An elderly woman became the 14th pedestrian killed by a car this year in Montgomery County when she was hit crossing Connecticut Avenue yesterday afternoon.

Montgomery County police said the 76-year-old woman was crossing the busy roadway near Lawrence Avenue in Bethesda about 1:40 p.m. when she was hit. She died of her injuries at Suburban Hospital and was not identified.

Police couldn't immediately say whether the driver involved stopped or whether the woman was in a crosswalk.

In Montgomery County, 14 people were killed by vehicles during all of last year.

THE DISTRICT

Company Loses Bid to Sue City Over Tower A federal appeals court has refused to reinstate a lawsuit filed by a company that wanted to build a 756-foot telecommunications tower in Northwest Washington.

Attorneys for American Towers Inc. wanted to revive a lawsuit filed against the D.C. government over the $5.6 million tower, on 41st Street NW near the Tenleytown Metro station. The company began erecting the tower after securing permits in March 2000 but was forced to stop work when the city revoked its building permit seven months later.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman dismissed the lawsuit -- which sought $250 million in damages -- in June 2001. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the company's challenge of Friedman's decision in a ruling Wednesday.

Three Hurt in Police Car Crash A D.C. police car collided with a vehicle about 12:35 p.m. yesterday at Alabama Avenue and Randle Place SE, sending two officers and the other vehicle's driver to the hospital, authorities said.

Though firefighters used cutting tools to remove one of the officers, none of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

"Everybody who comes in here, it's like they want to celebrate something. Being alive, maybe. Something bad has to happen for people to appreciate what they have."

-- Lati Taghavi, manager of Art Stone, a dancewear store in Fairfax County

that was busy yesterday with last-minute sales of Halloween costumes. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers David A. Fahrenthold, Maria Glod and Arthur Santana and the Associated Press.