Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I started parking in the garage at my office building in Northwest Washington. I pay almost $200 a month, three times as much as the cost of commuting on Metro. But I have a new baby and think the ability to get to the caregiver at a moment's notice is worth the additional cost.

Having said that, the parking garage is the most stressful part of my day. Every space, ramp and aisle is so full you can barely drive. I spend 15 to 20 minutes most days waiting for the parking attendants to move cars so I can get mine out.

One day at lunchtime, I went to retrieve something in my car. If there had been an emergency and I had to get to the babysitter's to get my daughter, the attendants would have had to move 15 cars (not in spaces) so I could have gotten mine out.

Mary K. Dillon


My sympathies. Contact Commuter Connections, 800-745-RIDE or Ask about the guaranteed ride home in emergencies.

If you take public transit or carpool to work, this program will pay for a ride home by taxi or some other method, up to four times a year, for a home emergency or unscheduled overtime.

You can take Metro, or they'll match you up with a carpool, which should be easy in Arlington. You can easily save more than $1,000 a year, wave goodbye to that stressful garage situation and contribute to cleaner air.

Let me know if this works out.

Route 110 Updates

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I noticed an inquiry in your April 26 chat online asking about the construction on Route 110 near the Pentagon.

There's a Pentagon renovation and construction Web site that has information about that and the other projects at the Pentagon: Scroll down to "Projects" and click on "Roads, Grounds and Security." That will take you to the section that describes what's planned and what's completed. It also offers other information, including maps of the project.

David Beck


Thanks for the tip. Several readers have been asking about the status of the Route 110 construction around the Pentagon.

I've talked to Department of Defense officials. The Pentagon has marked more than $100 million for transportation security improvements since Sept. 11, 2001. Part of that package is rerouting Route 110, which is a major access road to the Pentagon and a link between Interstates 395 and 66.

The new Route 110 will be built farther from the Pentagon. Work there should be completed in early July, well ahead of schedule. The old road will be converted to parking.

A new transit center has been built near Pentagon parking. Buses used to be able to park within a few feet of the Pentagon building.

A new truck interchange has been built along Route 27, to go with a remote truck center for pickups and deliveries.

Once Route 110 is relocated, the Pentagon will no longer need to pay Virginia State Police overtime to block trucks from using the road. That had been costing the Defense Department more than $3 million a year.

Paying for Order

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding grocery stores that use the quarter deposit system to get customers to return their carts: I lived in San Francisco, and all the Safeway stores I frequented used that system. It worked great, though not perfectly. I'm not sure why Safeway hasn't brought that system here.

Debra Goldstein


XM Radio

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was happy to see your suggestion of XM Satellite Radio for its 24-hour traffic updates [Dr. Gridlock, April 8]. I began subscribing to it six months ago and have never thought twice about the $9.95 monthly fee.

I carry the portable unit from my home stereo to my car to my office. I listen to it all day. I always find a station to suit my mood.

The addition of XM instant traffic and weather has been great. Once I know the status of my commute, I like to listen to the rush-hour information for other cities -- and, in most cases, be glad I'm not there!

Susan Zelenka


For more information, visit

Taillights Needed for Visibility

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

It's not the lack of headlights that bothers me during rain, but rather the fact that when the headlights aren't lighted, the taillights aren't, either. Taillights are most important during poor visibility.

With all the other safety features required on vehicles today, why not the simple one of automatically turning on headlights (and taillights) when the wipers turn on?

Emil Klingenfus


No argument here.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.