Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why do Metro trains sometimes stop at the station only to move up another six feet before the doors open? Doesn't the conductor know where to stop?

Dominic Russoli


Trains are supposed to stop at certain points along the platform for maximum entry and exit by passengers. Devices positioned under the platform edge tell operators whether the train has stopped at the proper place, according to Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

Trains enter a station on automatic pilot, but if they stop short of the designated position, usually because of a malfunction, the train operator takes over and moves the train up to the proper mark, he said. "It doesn't happen very often," he said.

Dr. Gridlock would like to hear from regular riders about how often it happens and any consequences. For instance, lurching into a station might cause some standing passengers to fall.

Park at Your Own Risk

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

While trying to find parking near American University, I came across a broken parking meter. I decided to park in the spot but wasn't sure if I would receive a ticket. Luckily, I did not.

What are the guidelines regarding broken meters?

Brandie Ratcliffe


You can be ticketed for parking at a broken meter. I am told, however, that if you park at one and immediately report it, by calling the telephone number on the meter or 202-727-1000, you improve your chances of getting the ticket dismissed during adjudication.

Of course, if you don't want to risk a ticket and adjudication, don't park at a broken meter. Easy to say, with parking spaces at a premium in the District.

Wipers and Lights

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why don't some drivers turn on their headlights when using their windshield wipers, as required by law?

Possibly because some of them have recently moved here from another state where there is no such law.

I moved to the area from Kansas City. Neither Kansas nor Missouri had such a law when I left. I only learned of Virginia's law by seeing it posted on a road sign.

Bretton Zinger


It amazes me how few road signs there are to tell people about the "wipers on, headlights on" law. Highway officials could educate recent arrivals by posting this and other traffic laws on overhead variable message signs.

It Takes a Funeral

For months, readers complained to Dr. Gridlock about Waterside Drive NW, which connects the northbound Rock Creek Parkway to Massachusetts Avenue NW. It was in such bad shape that Dan Tangherlini, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, volunteered to have his department resurface the road for the National Park Service.

"There are so many potholes and patches, it is the worst non-dirt road I've ever driven," wrote Ralph Lusby of Bethesda last month.

The Park Service still hadn't gotten around to resurfacing the road when officials planning the route for former president Ronald Reagan's cortege to and from Washington National Cathedral decided they wanted to use Waterside Drive. Presto, the road was resurfaced in a matter of days.

One Way to Avoid I-95

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In a recent column, a reader gave an alternative route for trips to Florida, avoiding much of the I-95 corridor.

You said you wanted to hear the difference in miles and driving time. I've measured them, from the I-66 interchange at the Beltway to the I-26 exit at I-95 in South Carolina. The alternate, using I-66 west to I-81 to I-77 to I-26 is about 88 miles longer, and about 90 minutes extra than using I-95 all the way.

Worth it? Your call.

Bill Redisch


I'd probably try this at least once because it is different. Other readers have reported that although I-81 is legendary for heavy truck traffic, it is less annoying than the ever-present I-95 congestion between the Beltway and Fredericksburg.

Anyone else have comments?

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at: 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail ( or faxes (703-352-3908). Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.