Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am wondering whether it is legal to post parking restriction signs where people have already legitimately parked and then ticket the cars for violating the restriction.

The location was outside DAR Constitution Hall in Northwest Washington. Montgomery County holds about 18 public school graduation ceremonies there over two weeks in the late spring, with two or three ceremonies on most days. One day, I arrived at noon for a 2:30 p.m. ceremony, the second ceremony of the day.

I drove all around, from 17th Street NW to Virginia Avenue and from C Street to E Street, looking for a parking space, but all were filled due to the earlier graduation ceremony.

When that ceremony ended, many spaces opened up, including a couple of spaces where there were no parking meters or restriction signs. Drivers arriving for the second ceremony took those spaces.

However, at some point after we went into the hall, District employees taped "No Parking" signs on the street poles and on the parking meters. Apparently, the parking enforcement squad then came through, ticketing those who were parked there.

That seemed low, even for the District's traffic enforcement department.

David Eckstein


I am sorry that happened to you. I got a bit of a runaround from various District agencies about it. It seems that several agencies can post these temporary signs, including the police department, the fire department and the Department of Transportation. Further, officers from dozens of agencies can write traffic tickets.

Normally, the Department of Transportation is supposed to allow 72 hours' notice before those signs become effective. But this is a situation that is out of control.

DDOT is trying to implement a system in which all signs display a phone number and date of posting, so there can be some accountability. I remember a time when people could buy such signs at a hardware store and put them up on their own streets to provide more parking.

It seems to me that the issuing agency should have to provide some evidence that its sign was legally posted; that is, with 72 hours' notice or for a genuine emergency.

But Why Drive In?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your response to Francesca Fierro O'Reilly's complaint about illegally parked cars on 19th and 20th streets in Northwest was that she should call the Mayor's Hotline at 202-727-1000 and use 18th and 23rd streets instead [Dr. Gridlock, June 2].

My response is to ask O'Reilly why she really needs to drive "from Arlington to Dupont Circle every workday." Because she has chosen not to travel by readily available public transportation, she is contributing to the problem she bemoans.

I have no sympathy for Arlingtonians who complain about the traffic problems they encounter while bringing their cars into our fair city.

Jim Deutsch


I suspect that Arlingtonians, more than all other suburban dwellers, use mass transit to come into the District. That is because their high-rise residences are built along Metrorail corridors. That's what makes Arlington an attractive place to live.

Perhaps O'Reilly has a genuine need to drive in -- and endure horrendous parking prices and rush-hour gridlock.

Sticker Too Sticky

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing to strenuously object to the adhesive attached to the District vehicle registration sticker. I have just spent an hour trying to remove it from my windshield with a putty knife, pocket knife, pliers, alcohol and a Brillo pad. I finally succeeded, but only after great effort and a scraped hand.

The directions indicate that the sticker should be placed low on the left inner surface of the windshield, which makes it nearly impossible to reach, and the glue is the strongest I have ever encountered. The instructions for applying the sticker note that once it is affixed, it cannot be repositioned, and I would add "or removed."

Recently, when I had my vehicle inspected, I asked the inspector how to remove the registration sticker. He shook his head, replying that a number of people have come to him for help.

Richard H. Schlagel


The kicker is that you can get ticketed for displaying an expired registration sticker that you cannot remove. Diabolical, eh?

I've notified the District DMV that I've received several such complaints, and they said they will contact their vendor and see what is recommended for removal.

A spokesman for the District Department of Transportation suggested a single-edge razor.

Signs Behind the Times

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Metro extended the Blue Line to Largo in December. However, the brown pylons on the station platforms and the large signs over the escalators still list Addison Road as the final destination.

People who are unfamiliar with the system are constantly asking other riders whether the Largo train is the same as the Addison Road train.

When is Metro going to update the signs?

Eric Jackson

Silver Spring

Says Lisa Farbstein, spokeswoman for Metro: "We have not updated the signs. It's very expensive, but it's something we will do, definitely."

Railroad Crossing Rx

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A few years back, I remember reading in one of your columns an address where one could report railroad crossings in need of repair.

What is that address?

The railroad crossing on Route 6 in La Plata is atrocious and in need of immediate attention, with many pieces of metal lying about and holes to suck up tires.

Whom can we complain to?

Andy Andrews

La Plata

CSX Corp.'s headquarters is in Jacksonville, Fla. Call 800-325-8182 with complaints. Please clip this out and put it in the pocket of your vehicle. You may need it again.

Free Newspapers' Cost

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As I pass the piles of discarded Express newspapers every morning in the Farragut West Metro station and see loose sheets blowing around the premises and left on the trains, I wonder how much The Washington Post's free distribution of this publication is costing the Metro system in extra cleaning expenses?

William O. Craig


Metro doesn't sort trash by publication and thus has no answer, according to spokesman Steven Taubenkibel. The Examiner and other handouts are also mixed in with the Express. (Thanks for letting me get out of that one, Steven.)

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.