[This post has been updated. Most recent update: Friday at 7:55 p.m.]
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The big transportation story of the weekend was supposed to be the official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall. Instead, the region is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.
It’s clear that the hurricane is going to have at least some impact on the area. While storms can be unpredictable, we’re going to see rain and wind, which in turn leads to flooding, downed trees, downed wires, power outages and related problems.
(Nobody knows just yet what the storm will do to the Washington area this weekend. The tropical storm watch for the D.C. and Baltimore areas has been upgraded to a tropical storm warning. A flash flood watch has been issued from Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning. Keep your eyes on the Capital Weather Gang and PostLocal for the latest details.)
Here’s what you need to know:
The memorial’s dedication, originally scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed , while a rally and march planned for Saturday have been called off. As a result, all of the planned street closures stemming from these events have been canceled.
The Metro system was originally going to open at 5 a.m. on Sunday due to the memorial dedication, but now it will open at the regular weekend time of 7 a.m. No weekend track work is scheduled.
More than 2,000 sand bags are being placed at some Metro stations to prevent water from getting in: stations include Cleveland Park, King Street, Southern Avenue, Navy Yard, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, Largo Town Center and Stadium-Armory, which have all had flooding issues before. Metrobuses and MetroAccess will tour around downed trees and flooded streets, so add extra time to any trips.
Amtrak canceled some train service around the East Coast for this weekend due to the Hurricane
The cancellations include service along the Northeast Corridor (Washington – Boston), the Keystone Corridor (New York – Harrisburg, Pa.), the Springfield Line (New Haven, Conn. – Springfield, Mass.), the Empire Service (New York – Albany), the Vermonter (St. Albans, Vt. – Washington), the Piedmont Service (Raleigh – Charlotte), the Northeast Regional services in Virginia and several long-distance trains.
Some airlines are being surprisingly benevolent as the storm approaches, letting passengers change flight plans without paying the usual financial penalties that come with changing flights. At least 6,100 U.S. airlines flights will be canceled. JetBlue has already canceled 880 flights due to the looming storm.
If you’re flying this weekend, some resources:
After the jump, what to do if you spot downed trees or other debris, need to report a power outage and much more:
Generators are being deployed across the District to provide back-up power for traffic signals, according to the District Department of Transportation. Personnel and contractors will be on call throughout the weekend to clear downed trees and debris.
Here are some resources for reporting power outages, downed trees and debris in roadways.
-- BGE outages: 877-778-2222; downed wires: 800-685-0123; outage map
-- Dominion outages and downed wires: 866-366-4357; outage map
-- Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative outages and downed wires: 703-335-0500; outage reports
-- Pepco outages: 877-737-2662; downed wires: 202-872-343; outage map
-- Washington Gas: 800-752-7520
Downed trees and debris in roads
Anne Arundel County: After hours, 410-222-6120; northern district, 410-222-6120; central district, 410-222-7940; southern district; 410-222-7940; Annapolis; 410-263-7870.
Arlington County:703-228-6527; after hours, 703-558-2222.
Calvert County: 410-535-1600.
Charles County: 301-932-3450 or 301-870-2778.
The District: 311; clogged storm drains, 202-612-3400.
Fairfax County: 703-324-5033 (Public Works); 571-350-1000 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
Howard County: 410-313-3440.
Loudoun County:703-777-0333 (Emergency Management); 703-383-VDOT.
Maryland state: 800-543-2515.
Montgomery County: 240-777-6000.
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/state/dc/
Prince George's County: 301-499-8520; after hours, 301-499-8600.
Prince William County: 703-792-7070 or 703-383-VDOT.
Virginia State: 703-383-VDOT.
UPDATE: The District Department of Public Works gave out 5,000 sandbags on Friday by 5 p.m. For Saturday, another 2,700 bags will be given out on a “first-come, first-served basis.” Some good news for people caught up in the traffic problems around New Jersey Avenue and K Street in Southeast Washington today: Pickup will resume at RFK Stadium, Lot 7, at 8 a.m. Get there early to snag a bag.
Original Text: The District Department of Public Works will distribute sandbags at their site on New Jersey Avenue and K Street in Southeast Washington. The sandbags weigh between 40 and 50 pounds and there’s a limit of five per household. Residents will need to load the sandbags. Those will be given out on Friday from noon to midnight and Saturday from 8 a.m. to midnight.
In Alexandria, officials began giving them out this morning at 11 a.m. The three locations where you can get them:
• The intersection of King and Lee streets in Old Town.
• George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mount Vernon Ave.
• Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, 3600 Commonwealth Ave.
The Virginia Railway Express is currently fueling up their fleet of trains for Monday morning’s commute, reports Jennifer Buske. There could wind up being delays if massive flooding occurs or debris lands on the tracks. Riders should get updates by 6 p.m. on Sunday regarding Monday’s service. Check Train Talk or call 800-RIDE-VRE (743-3873) for service updates.
MARC management will work with Amtrak and CSX to judge the conditions of all three MARC lines over the weekend, according to the Maryland Transit Administration. The agency also hopes to provide information about Monday morning’s commute by 6 p.m. on Sunday. The information will be sent out via e-mail, on Twitter and on the MTA site.
Students were scheduled to move into dorms at several area colleges this weekend. A few colleges have already changed their plans, Jenna Johnson reports at Campus Overload. (Remember, students moving in can create traffic problems around a campus, so try to avoid the areas around these schools if you can.)
• The University of Maryland, George Washington University and Catholic University are all opening residence halls Friday instead of Saturday to let students get settled before the storm hits.
• George Mason University is encouraging students to arrive on Friday and, if students still arrive on Saturday, to expect large groups of people when the weather permits it.
• Towson University is postponing move-in and orientation events. First-year students are now scheduled to move in on Monday (rather than Sunday), while returning students are moving in on Tuesday (rather than Sunday).
• Gallaudet University was supposed to reopen for returning students on Sunday, but dorms opened for returning students on Friday.
• Georgetown University students were supposed to move in all weekend, but now the school is allowing students to arrive late and move in after Sunday when the storm has passed the region.
If you have a bus booked for the weekend, be in touch with the company to make sure your trip hasn’t been canceled or altered.
Megabus has canceled some service on routes heading south out of Washington for Friday night and Saturday. Riders on those routes may rebook or have a refund. And service to Atlantic City has been canceled until further notice. Keep up with Megabus on their site, through Facebook and via Twitter.
The Bay Bridge will remain open until sustained winds reach 55 miles per hour, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. Current forecasts have wind speeds reaching that point by Saturday afternoon, so drivers heading from the Eastern Shore to the Western Shore are encouraged to do so Friday night or no later than early Saturday morning.
The Maryland Transportation Authority plans to conduct a trial period of extended hours at its Bay-Bridge Stop-In Center from Aug. 29 through Oct. 1. (The extended hours are still set to begin on Monday, regardless of Hurricane Irene.)
The trial hours are Mondays through Fridays: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday: 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
The address of the center is 850 Revell Hwy., Annapolis.
And this isn’t hurricane-related, but: Schools are currently scheduled to reopen on Monday in Montgomery and Loudoun counties, so remember that starting Monday you’re going to encounter school zones again.