THE REGION

Red Line Track Work to Lengthen Ride

As track work on Metro's Red Line continues through this weekend in preparation for the Nov. 20 opening of the New York Avenue Station, train trips probably will take 10 to 15 minutes longer than usual, the transit agency said.

Today and tomorrow, trains will share one track between Rhode Island Avenue and Judiciary Square. Red Line trains that usually operate between Grosvenor and Silver Spring will terminate at Judiciary Square and return to Grosvenor. The trains that normally go to the ends of the Red Line will proceed through the work zone.

Metro also plans partial Red Line shutdowns for Columbus Day weekend and the first weekend in November.

Potomac Fisheries Panel Dedicates Site

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission dedicated its new building yesterday in Colonial Beach, Va., marking a milestone for the two-state panel at one of the most challenging times in its 46-year history.

An indication of the the commission's difficulties involving the river is a report showing that the panel has sold no tonging licenses for the oyster season that begins Oct. 1, said Kirby A. Carpenter, the commission's executive secretary. During the 2003-04 season, the total catch was 211 bushels, a record low in a river that has historically supplied oysters to much of the East Coast. The previous season's catch was 2,200 bushels.

The commission, which regulates commercial and recreational fishing on the Potomac, tried to help watermen last season by allowing them to use power winders to dredge portions of the river. That will be allowed again this year, from Cobb Island downriver.

Although scientists won't know how this season is shaping up until surveys are completed in October, not much improvement is expected.

"Given the amount of rain last year and this year in the upper river, the oysters are under a lot of stress due to fresh water," Carpenter said.

For the first time, no oysters were harvested in the Potomac last year by tongers -- a time-honored way of harvesting oysters by hand. When oysters were plentiful, a good tonger could catch more than 20 bushels a day.

The fisheries commission was established by Congress in 1958 to end disputes between Virginia and Maryland watermen. The commission rented space in Colonial Beach until 1973, when it constructed its first building. The new $700,000 building was built next to the old one.

VIRGINIA

Lynne Cheney Marks Constitution Day

The wife of Vice President Cheney helped celebrate National Constitution Day yesterday in Fairfax County at the historic home of George Mason.

Lynne Cheney spent part of the day with 200 elementary school students at Gunston Hall Plantation, leading students in activities that involved costumed reenactors portraying such historic figures as Mason, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

The nation's founders signed the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The inaugural Constitution Day took place in 2002.

Highway Workers Memorial Dedicated

Virginia transportation officials dedicated a granite monument yesterday honoring more than 100 highway workers who have died from job-related causes since the 1930s.

The monument, at a scenic overlook off Interstate 64 east of Afton Mountain, was built with donated funds and services from Virginia Department of Transportation employees, their families, businesses and groups statewide.

The memorial will have 124 names, mostly of employees killed on construction or work sites, and there will be space to add names.

THE DISTRICT

Schwartz Opposes Gun-Ban Repeal

D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) called on the Republican-led Senate yesterday to give the District "the respect we deserve" and oppose an effort by Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) to repeal the city's handgun ban and other gun limits when it takes up the city budget next week.

"It is unfair for Congress to once again attempt to use the District as its whipping post," Schwartz wrote majority Republican and minority Democratic leaders. "No matter where you stand on gun control issues, this is a matter of home rule, and the citizens and elected officials of the District of Columbia have spoken loudly and clearly."

Schwartz, the council's senior Republican member, issued a similar call Tuesday to leaders in the GOP-controlled House against legislation sponsored by Rep. Mark Edward Souder (R-Ind.) that would repeal the city's gun restrictions.

False Bomb Alert Shuts NW Street

D.C. police shut a busy thoroughfare and evacuated a U.S. naval building in Northwest Washington for almost an hour yesterday after a dog mistakenly indicated that a delivery truck contained explosives, authorities said.

The incident occurred about 11 a.m. at the Naval District of Washington complex at 3801 Nebraska Ave. NW. The building also houses some offices for the Department of Homeland Security, officials said.

After a bomb-sniffing dog signaled that a delivery truck might contain explosives, authorities evacuated the complex and shut Nebraska Avenue NW between Massachusetts Avenue and Van Ness Street NW. Police and firefighters reopened the streets and building less than an hour later after determining the truck contained no explosives.

MARYLAND

Ehrlich Finds New Job for Appointee

Floyd R. Blair, the subject of a lengthy battle between Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) over control of Baltimore's social services agency, was appointed yesterday to be a deputy secretary for the state Department of Human Services.

The Ehrlich administration announced that Blair will oversee the 24 local social services agencies and "will continue to serve as a vital link to the Baltimore City Department of Social Services."

O'Malley filed suit last year to block Ehrlich's appointment of Blair as interim director of the Baltimore office. In July, a judge gave the governor and the mayor 45 days to agree on a permanent director. They had not yet done so, and the appointment of Blair to the state agency leaves a vacancy in the city department.

"I trust in the Lord. He woke us up and got us out in time."

-- Wylene Davis, one of those who escaped from a Riverdale Park home where the front door was set afire early yesterday. Authorities suspect it was another attack by a serial arsonist. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Spencer S. Hsu and Del Quentin Wilber and the Associated Press.