Happy holidays and safe travels! The highway departments in the D.C. region have suspended construction work till Tuesday, making the getaway easier. Metro, anticipating an early rush hour Friday, says it will add trains to handle it. Workers will be escaping not just for holiday trips but also for last-minute visits to malls and shopping areas.
Travelers Friday will find the weather mild and partly cloudy, the Capital Weather Gang says. Christmas eve should be mostly clear and seasonable. Christmas day clouds may increase on Christmas Day but rain is unlikely in the D.C. area. Monday should be cool but mostly sunny.
And I keep sayin’: If you’re launching a long holiday getaway trip, check the weather here and the weather there. Many of you will be traveling through interior and mountainous areas where you could encounter very different conditions.
Here are some suggestions for planning your local and long range travels over the next few days.
Starting close into the D.C. area, Metro will be operating normal service Friday, except for those trains it says it will add in the afternoon to help with the early getaway from work.
There's no track work scheduled for this weekend or next. Saturday and Sunday service are as usual. Monday will be holiday service, 7 a.m. to midnight on the rails and a Sunday schedule on the Metrobuses.
The getaway roads
The Christmas weekend getaway is very different from the Thanksgiving getaway. Yes, there’s going to be a lot of traffic, but people tend to spread out their departures. Their schedules are more flexible, and many families like to spend Christmas morning at home, even if their plans call for rendezvous with relatives later on.
The 511 travel information systems in Maryland and Virginia can help with the getaway.
Maryland: Travelers can get current information about traffic conditions by visiting the Maryland Web site at 511md.org. The information also is available by calling 511 from a mobile phone in the state. Use this link to the Maryland 511 Twitter feed. But please either pull over or ask a passenger to do the mobile phone work.
Virginia: For real-time traffic conditions, go to VDOT’s travel information Web site, at www.511Virginia.org. Travelers also can connect with the service by dialing 511 from any phone in Virginia. A mobile version of the 511Virginia Web site, designed for handheld devices, is available at mobile511virginia.org.
Virginia 511 also has a very helpful Twitter account. Travelers can pick a particular one for a corridor that suits their needs by going to this page.
VDOT says the I-95/395 reversible lanes will be open to all traffic:
* Southbound from 6 p.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday.
* Northbound from 4 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Tuesday, when HOV-3 rules take effect.
HOV restrictions on I-95, 395 and 66 will be lifted on Monday, a federal holiday.
Redskins play Saturday
This weekend’s Redskins game at FedEx Field in Landover is at 1 p.m. Christmas Eve. It’s not a barn-burner of a game, but it’s still likely to cause extra traffic congestion on the eastern side of the Capital Beltway in Maryland before and after the game.
If you’re just passing through, stay left around the Landover Road, Arena Drive and Central Avenue interchanges, the ones that fans use to reach the stadium.
The SoberRide program is operating its annual holiday safety campaign for people in the D.C. area who have had too much to drink and shouldn’t drive home. Offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program through a network of cab companies, SoberRide will continue from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night through New Year’s Eve.
Adults who are at risk of driving while impaired can get a free ride home up to a $30 fare value by calling 800-200-TAXI (8294).