Dear Dr. Gridlock:
You asked for ideas as to how your Web site, www.washingtonpost.com, can help readers with instant traffic information. Here's an idea: Set up a system where readers can request e-mail alerts focusing on traffic tie-ups in a particular commuting corridor.
For instance, I'd want alerts related to Maryland Route 50 and I-97, as I live in Annapolis. Someone else might sign up for Beltway alerts, or Woodrow Wilson Bridge alerts, etc.
It is important that the information be targeted because I don't want irrelevant alerts coming over my BlackBerry. But, boy oh boy, would I love to have my lil' old BlackBerry vibrate in my holster warning me of impending trouble on the routes I travel most frequently.
This would be a wonderful service. As it is, we have to wait for WTOP's "Traffic on the 8's" if we're traveling, often not getting vital information about traffic delays until we're in the midst of them.
I've checked with the folks at washingtonpost.com and they say we already offer such a service.
To set up your personal e-mailed travel alerts, they say, please visit www.washingtonpost.com/traffic. Click on the "Personal Alerts" tab, then follow the instructions to create alerts for up to eight routes that you drive frequently.
There is no charge, and you don't have to be a Washington Post subscriber.
The Web site has several other traffic projects in development and appreciates your suggestions and feedback.
Let Dr. Gridlock know how this system works for you and any other ideas where we can electronically supply you with instant, relevant traffic news.
A Little More Green Time
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
The last stop for the Manassas Virginia Railway Express train is at Broad Run, and the exit from that station is a one-lane road called Piper Lane.
This road joins Route 28 at a traffic light and, as expected, when a train comes in (every half-hour in the evening) the line to get out of the station can back up for almost a mile and take 20 to 30 minutes to get through one traffic light!
Why not add 15 to 20 seconds to our green light? The time spent getting out of the Broad Run Station negates the attraction and convenience of mass transit (the VRE). It's a rather simple fix, and refusal or inability to do something causes us to live like cattle.
Good letter. Our officials should be doing all they can to aid mass transit.
Mark Hagan is the Virginia Department of Transportation's regional traffic signals chief and is arguably the most powerful person in Northern Virginia. He sent a crew to the site and it agrees with you, Mr. Cioni. It has added 30 seconds of green time (in evening rush hours) for exiting VRE passengers and promises to revisit the site to see whether more should be done.
Thanks for writing, and it's awfully good to see such a swift and caring response from VDOT.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
The traffic signal for southbound New Hampshire Avenue NW, on the north side of Dupont Circle, is turned 90 degrees the wrong way (it faces toward the circle, not toward New Hampshire Avenue traffic).
It has been this way for months now. Could you please forward this to the applicable department in the D.C. government?
Certainly. City crews are pretty good about instant fixes for twisted traffic lights. They fixed this one within 24 hours of my call, according to Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation.
Recently, they quickly repaired a darkened "No Left Turn" light from eastbound K Street NW onto 14th Street NW. That situation was causing traffic to back up on K Street.
The city welcomes your observations about twisted traffic signals. You can also report them by calling 202-727-1000.
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 to email@example.com or faxes to 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.