THE REGION

New Rte. 1 Ramp to Beltway Opens

A new ramp to the Capital Beltway's outer loop from northbound Route 1 in Alexandria opened about 1 p.m. yesterday. It will help motorists make their way around construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The ramp lets Route 1 north traffic to directly merge onto the Beltway instead of having to merge with Route 1 south traffic.

Escalator Smoke Shuts Metro Station

Smoke from a malfunctioning escalator motor forced authorities to close the Capitol South Metro station yesterday afternoon for about an hour, fire officials said.

No one was hurt in the incident, which happened at 2:45 p.m., fire officials said. Trains continued to run along the Orange and Blue lines but were not permitted to pick up or drop off passengers at the Capitol South stop, fire officials said. The station reopened at 3:50 p.m.

VIRGINIA

Death of Woman Found in Pool Suspicious

Police yesterday identified the woman found dead in a North Arlington swimming pool Sunday afternoon as Megan Criste, 22, who was last seen alive in that neighborhood several hours earlier.

Criste, a Burke resident, was found by the owner of the home in the 1700 block of North Adams Street, in Lyon Park, about 3:45 p.m. An autopsy is being completed.

Matt Martin, an Arlington County police spokesman, said the homeowner did not know Criste. It was unknown how long Criste had been in the pool, but she was last seen alive between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. in Lyon Park.

Martin said detectives are investigating the death as suspicious. He asked that anyone in the Lyon Park, Clarendon-Courthouse or Lyon Village areas between 1 and 6 a.m. Sunday who might have seen Criste call Arlington police at 703-228-4195.

Election Charge Against Chapman Dropped

A felony charge of election fraud was dropped yesterday against Steve H. Chapman, the Manassas businessman who found himself in court this spring during his unsuccessful campaign against longtime state Del. Harry J. Parrish (R-Manassas).

Chapman, 27, was accused of lying about where he lived when he registered to vote in fall 2004. He was also charged with voting illegally, a misdemeanor, when he cast his ballot that November. That charge was not dismissed, and a trial was set for March 22.

Chapman's legal worries began in late April after a paid consultant to Parrish's campaign contacted Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert (D) to discuss Chapman's residency. Chapman, also a Republican, has said that he purposely moved out of his Woodbridge home and rented a room in a Manassas house in Parrish's district to run for delegate.

Chapman accused Parrish of using his influence to get the charges filed. Ebert and all Prince William Circuit Court judges recused themselves from the case.

Chapman expressed relief yesterday. "We maintained our innocence the whole time," he said.

Plane Returns After Landing Gear Mistake

A United Express airplane leaving Dulles International Airport with 54 passengers on board returned to the airport yesterday shortly after takeoff after its pilot reported that the landing gear would not retract. The plane landed safely.

The call from the Hartford-bound plane, which came at 12:43 p.m., caused the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire Department to go on alert until the plane was down safely, said authority spokeswoman Courtney Prebich.

United spokesman Jeff Green said that while the airplane is on the ground, a pin is inserted in the landing gear to ensure that it does not retract. The pin is to be removed by ground personnel before takeoff but was accidentally left in place.

Green said the pin was quickly removed after the airplane's return. The plane took off again shortly, landing in Hartford 46 minutes late, he said.

Loudoun Teenager Killed in Car Accident

A Loudoun County student died in a single-car accident in the Cascades section of Sterling yesterday morning.

According to authorities, Anjan Bhattacharya, 18, drove a 1990 Volvo in reverse through his home's closed garage door, down the front lawn, across the street and into a tree. Bhattacharya, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the car, they said. The car continued through the neighbor's lawn, coming to rest back in the street.

Bhattacharya was airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office said the department is investigating why the teenager, who did not have a driver's license, was behind the wheel. Bhattacharya was a junior at Potomac Falls High School, where school officials said grief counselors were on hand yesterday to talk to classmates.

Track Work Likely to Cause VRE Delays

The final phase of some major track work on a Virginia Railway Express line began yesterday, and it is likely to cause delays.

The work is being done on the Fredericksburg Line, from Rippon south. VRE officials said morning trains could be up to a half-hour late. Minor delays are possible north during the evening rush; Train 311 and Amtrak Train 85 will have 30-minute delays tonight and tomorrow night. The track work is scheduled to end in early November. THE DISTRICT

School Voucher Demand Skyrockets

The D.C. school voucher program has reached full capacity in its second year of operation, with 1,733 students attending private schools through the taxpayer-funded scholarships, officials said yesterday.

But 47 students who won vouchers this spring were unable to use them because there were not enough high school spaces. And program administrators said the shortage could worsen, hurting efforts to evaluate the impact of vouchers on achievement.

Under the $14 million-a-year program, low-income D.C. children receive federally funded grants of up $7,500 each to cover tuition and other expenses at private and religious schools in the city. About 700 vouchers went unused in the 2004-05 school year because of a lack of applicants. Administrators said they had little time to publicize the program. This year, there were 1.7 applications for each voucher.

"He was a piece of living history."

-- Mary E. Brown, a friend of Mark Matthews, a 111-year-old Buffalo Soldier

who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Del Quentin Wilber, Jamie Stockwell, Nikita Stewart, Rosalind S. Helderman and V. Dion Haynes and the Associated Press.