Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I work at the Federal Center in Suitland and regularly use Interstates 395 and 295 for work and personal trips.
I cannot figure out why there is no seamless method for taking I-395 all the way through the city to link up to D.C. 295 north on the east side of the Anacostia River.
It seems as though that could be made possible at relatively little cost. Just install a cloverleaf interchange to go from Pennsylvania Avenue east onto D.C. 295 north. There is already room to put it in.
It also makes no sense to have no ramp to get onto Pennsylvania Avenue westbound when taking D.C. 295 south. For all the grand improvements talked about (like the disastrous Mixing Bowl), these small improvements could exponentially help traffic in this area.
I guess since Prince George's County and environs have very little political impact, this idiotic situation will forever get overlooked.
Even the Federal Highway Administration's Web site maps show a dotted line linking those highways. Why has it never been completed?
This has nothing to do with Prince George's County. The areas on both sides of the Pennsylvania Avenue (Sousa) bridge are in the District.
The District had a plan, about 20 years ago, to build a freeway connecting D.C. 395 and D.C. 295 via a new bridge upstream from the Sousa Bridge. It was -- and is -- badly needed.
The $200 million cost was to be covered by the federal government. The work would have meant thousands of jobs for District residents. The sitting mayor, Sharon Pratt, and the previous mayor, Marion S. Barry, endorsed it. It would have taken traffic off D.C. streets.
What happened? Special interest groups went to court and blocked construction. Eventually the city gave up, and the $200 million was spent for street repairs. Too bad.
Meanwhile, northbound I-395 traffic can cross the Sousa Bridge and turn left onto D.C. 295 north immediately at the end of the bridge. Southbound D.C. 295 traffic can exit at "Howard Road-Downtown." Turn right at the base of the ramp, then right again at the next traffic light and move onto the South Capitol Street (Frederick Douglass Memorial) Bridge. I-395 south is dead ahead.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I appreciate that you posted my complaint about sidewalk parking in The Washington Post on July 25.
However, I must tell you that complaining to the city's call center (202-727-1000) works only in certain situations.
It can work for reporting the discovery of a dead animal, a fallen tree, a leaking fire hydrant, a blocked storm drain and potholes.
But not for illegally parked cars, because the cars are usually not there by the time the complaint is relayed and the police get to the scene (if they respond at all).
Also, the call center operates only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Otherwise, calls are taken for emergency purposes only.
I have called the center several times about sidewalk parking (not to mention written letters to the police, mayor, etc.) but to no avail.
If it is acted on, a complaint such as sidewalk parking would take days to investigate because of the transfer of information.
Also, the police apparently do not monitor sidewalk parking because they consider itto be one their lowest priorities. Besides, they will say that if pedestrians can get around the car parked over the sidewalk, the police can't do anything about it.
As I write this, a van is parked at 911 26th St. NW, obstructing about half of the public sidewalk.
Milton O. Maeda
My condolences. Laws prohibit vehicles from blocking sidewalks, but there seems to be no practical enforcement effort.
I recall that some of your concern was the difficulty that handicapped people have getting around cars parked on sidewalks. I wonder if it would be worthwhile for you to visit your district police station and make an appointment with the traffic chief about the matter.
Flee Maniac Motorists
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
On Interstate 66 the other day, with most traffic doing 75 mph in a 55-mph zone, a loaded tractor-trailer came speeding up in the lane to the right of me. The car in front of the trucker was going slower (probably 70!), forcing him to either slow down or change lanes, so he abruptly moved in front of me and almost caused an accident.
The trucker kept weaving in and out of traffic at nearly 80 mph. A mile or so down I-66, traffic slowed to a crawl. I passed him, but not before getting his contact information and license plate number. Turns out he is an independent trucker from Madison, Va.
The next day I looked up his address and phone number on the Internet and called him. I asked him if he was aware of how he was driving, and I described what he had done to me. He replied that other drivers are rude to him, "so I guess that makes us even."
I asked how that justified his reckless driving and endangering me. All he could muster was that I must have cut him off somewhere, or that I "must be exaggerating."
It is amazing the extent to which people will go to rationalize their ugly behavior.
It's unusual for a motorist to track down another and have a dialogue about the miscreant's driving habits.
It's hardly surprising, though, that the trucker did not concede the error of his ways (speeding, unsafe lane changes).
My advice is to get away from these drivers, pronto. Get off the freeway or slow down (in the right lane) until they are out of view. Call the state police at #77 if you have a cell phone.
Bad Image for Police
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
There it was on the front page of the Aug. 7 Washington Post: seven lanes of Beltway traffic backed up as far as the camera could see, multiple cars trying to change lanes to the left and, at the front of it all, two cops talking to each other and doing nothing to help traffic move.
Too many times I have been stuck in traffic jams like that. When I finally get to the front, I see an accident in one lane, police cars in a second lane, a third lane blocked off, and police officers talking to each other and not helping traffic move around the problem.
When multiple police respond to an accident, how about assigning one to direct traffic?
It's a constant problem: officers standing around, and no one directing traffic. If police only knew what bad public relations stemmed from such apparent indifference -- in addition to gridlock.
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 at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at email@example.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.