In the Oct. 21 Dr. Gridlock column, completion dates for the Route 28-Route 606 (Old Ox Road) interchange loops were incorrect. Five of the eight new loops opened Oct. 9, and the other three are scheduled to open early next year. (Published 10/24/04)
Here is a progress report from the Virginia Department of Transportation about new interchanges underway in the Route 28 corridor in Loudoun and Fairfax counties. These improvements could be significant for Loudoun commuters.
* Route 28 interchanges -- A public-private partnership is building six interchanges in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. They are:
1. Air and Space Museum Parkway: completed.
2. Route 625 (Waxpool and Church roads): fall 2005.
3. Route 606 (Old Ox Road): winter 2004 to spring 2005.
4. Westfields Boulevard: fall 2005.
5. Route 846 (Sterling Boulevard): fall 2006.
6. McLearen Road: fall 2006.
These interchanges, involving overpasses and underpasses, will eliminate most traffic signals at what are now heavily congested choke points on Route 28.
The joint venture, involving VDOT, Clark Construction Group and Shirley Contracting Co., is designed to show that public-private partnerships can get large projects done more quickly and cheaply than VDOT alone.
These construction timetables certainly seem aggressive. Hopefully, they are realistic.
Here also are some of the latest construction projects (and their estimated completion dates) underway in Fairfax County, as provided by VDOT:
* Burke Lake Road -- Widening from two to four lanes from Lee Chapel Road to the Fairfax County Parkway (1.2 miles). Completion: fall 2005.
* Dulles Toll Road -- Sign improvements. The signs have been a problem for some readers, who complain that the printed toll information is too small and not provided until the collection points and that the Smart Tag lanes are not clearly marked. Completion: June 2005.
* Dulles Toll Road/Beltway -- Widening connecting ramps from one to two lanes. This should ease congestion for traffic getting on and off the Beltway. Completion: September 2005.
* Interstate 395 -- Sign improvements between the Washington Boulevard exit and the District line. Some readers have complained about the absence of a destination sign for the George Washington Memorial Parkway. That will be addressed in this project. Completion: end of 2005-spring 2006.
* Lorton Road -- Widening from two to six lanes between Route 1 and Silverbrook Road, including a new bridge over Pohick Creek (1.06 miles). Completion: August 2006.
* Route 1 -- Widening to six lanes, divided, with a trail on the east side and an extra turn lane, from Telegraph Road to Armistead Road. Completion: November 2005.
* Route 123 widening, Phase 3 -- Widening to four lanes, divided, from North Davis Drive to Route 722 (1.9 miles). Completion: May 2006.
* Springfield Interchange -- The final phases of the project are underway. The project is on schedule for completion in 2007. For lane closures, maps, photos and commuter options, visit www.springfieldinterchange.com.
* Telegraph Road -- Construction of retaining walls between Newington Road and Beulah Street to correct a landslide. Completion: December.
* West Ox Road -- Widening from two to four lanes between Ox Trail and Lawyers Road (1.1 mile). Completion: September 2006.
* Woodrow Wilson Bridge -- Replacement project is on schedule, with two six-lane drawbridges to be in place in 2008; the Interstate 295 and Route 210 interchanges in Maryland completed in 2008; and the two Virginia interchanges, at Route 1 and Telegraph Road, completed by 2012. For more information, visit www.wilsonbridge.com.
It is good to see that VDOT is making so many needed improvements and that the present highway commissioner, Philip Shucet, has made it a point to keep projects on time and on budget.
For more information about construction projects in Northern Virginia, visit www.virginiadot.org/projects/nova/nuts-and-bolts-PWC.asp.
'Yellow Ribbon' Magnets
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
You asked where you could purchase the magnetic yellow ribbon that is seen so much on the backs of cars [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 19].
There is a store called Abe Lincoln Flags on Route 29 in Fairfax, about a mile from the Nutley Street exit off Interstate 66. The store itself is small but has just about anything you want in flags, be it college, decorative or state, and all types of patriotic items and even flagpoles.
It also sells service flags that families can hang in their windows. The phone number is 703-204-1116.
Some Ticketing Unjust
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I'm a taxpayer who is opposed to unjust ticketing, so I had to write in support of Pat Julien's letter to you about speed traps [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 16].
Ticketing drunk drivers is not the same as ticketing a careful driver going with the flow of traffic at 40 mph in a 35 mph zone on a four-line highway.
Part of the problem is that many speed limits are unjustly low. On some roads, 90 percent or more of the cars are technically speeding. That is a sign that the speed limit on those roads is too low. Very few of those drivers will get tickets, but a speed trap could be set up at any time to bring in revenue to the government.
That is unjust; the speed limits should be fair, rather than artificially low, and should be enforced fairly.
If you disagree, I challenge you to watch your speed closely over the next few days, and see whether you are always driving under the speed limit. If not, you are a criminal, along with most drivers in the area -- or the country, for that matter. Is that right? I don't think so.
To be fair, many police officers do use good judgment in deciding when to ticket. But artificially low speed limits are still unjust, do not affect the flow of traffic and only make it easier to ticket safe drivers.
Tickets should be given to stop unsafe drivers, not given arbitrarily to bring in revenue.
I haven't heard of police ticketing a driver for going only 5 mph over the speed limit. Those who are going faster are subject to a speeding ticket, and that represents only a small portion of those who are speeding.
Many readers of this column support more enforcement of traffic offenses, not less. Please read on.
Caught, but Not Trapped
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Pat Julien's note about the high number of traffic courts (four) to handle traffic offenses seemed to contain the same old complaint that the public is being gouged by speed or red light camera "traps."
Which part of "speed limit" don't people understand?
A limit is the highest speed one is supposed to achieve.
How can it be a "trap" for law officials to notice that someone exceeded a limit and to cite them for it?
Red light cameras have reduced red light runners in every intersection where they are deployed. Radar guns have detected speeders. There's no entrapment. The limit is posted, people ignore it and there are consequences.
If people see it as a game and want to try to beat the "system," the courts will continue to take their money. If people obeyed the limits, the courts would be penniless. It's very simple.
Save your money; obey the limits.
Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in Extra and Sunday in the Metro section. 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 telephone numbers.