Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Help! How do you get onto the toll-free Dulles Access Road when leaving Dulles International Airport's economy long-term parking lots?

I am an occasional user of Dulles Airport and always have the same problem when leaving the economy long-term parking lots. I can't find a sign for Washington, the Capital Beltway, the Dulles Toll Road or even Vienna. All the signs are for Virginia towns, such as Centreville. I'm not familiar enough with Northern Virginia to know where those towns are. I therefore have no idea which road to take to get on the toll-free Dulles Access Road heading toward Washington.

Last time, I managed to get onto the Dulles Toll Road -- I can no longer remember which sign I followed -- but it cost me $1.50 to get back to the Capital Beltway. It was very frustrating since I should have been on the toll-free Dulles Access Road.

One time before that, returning late at night, I ended up on an unknown road, completely lost. I finally found a gas station and got directions.

Jennifer Brasher


Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, wrote this response:

"We apologize for your reader's difficulty in finding the Dulles [Access Road] after she leaves the Economy Parking Lots at Washington Dulles International Airport.

"Part of the difficulty may have been caused by some work we are doing on Rudder Road, the roadway onto which all vehicles departing the Economy Parking Lots' Central Exit Plaza must use to exit the Airport. The project will improve the roadways in the areas that affect the Economy Parking Lots and rental car facilities. An additional traffic lane has been added to Rudder Road, and a new traffic signal has been installed at the Economy Parking Lots exit onto Rudder Road.

"Here is our recommended exit strategy for leaving the Economy Parking Lots at Dulles:

"All Economy Lots share the Central Exit Plaza. After leaving the plaza, take a left onto Rudder Road at the new traffic light. There is a sign that reads 'Airport Exit,' with an arrow pointing to the left.

"Once on Rudder Road, stay to the left and follow the signs for 'Airport Exit.' The road will merge onto the Dulles [Access Road], eastbound toward Washington, D.C., and all points in-between. Drivers traveling to Washington should merge left to the through lanes of the Dulles [Access Road]."

Thank you, Ms. Hamilton. Hope that is helpful.

Put On That Front Plate

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I live in Maryland and bought a used 2005 Buick Century here. The dealership gave me only a rear temporary tag and is processing my new tag request.

There is no place to put a front plate on my car. There is no frame and, short of getting out a drill and bending the plate (a little), I don't see how I can get one on.

I guess I'll have to wait and see how many plates I receive. Maybe car manufacturers are making models for specific regions. My car was originally from Florida, where they need only one plate.

Patrice Ryan

Great Mills

It's your responsibility to make sure your Maryland-registered vehicle has a front license plate. I would make the dealership install the front and rear frames, with temporary license tags, before I left the lot. I'd write it into the sales contract.

Once you leave the dealer's lot with only a rear tag, you are in violation of Maryland law and can be cited.

Now that you're in this pickle, head immediately to your mechanic and ask him to install a front plate. It doesn't have to be positioned dead center, but it does have to be on the front.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The 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, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.