The Washington Post

The week ahead: bus route changes, road work delays

Military units and marching bands pass the Capitol on Sunday as they rehearse for next Monday’s presidential inauguration. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

The week leading up to Inauguration Day and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday begins with many changes in local bus services. Travelers should expect light rain through Wednesday, but mostly sunny skies after that, along with a cooling trend, the Capital Weather Gang says.

Join me at noon Monday for a discussion of our local traffic and transit issues, including inauguration travel topics. Here are some of the developments that could affect your commutes this week.

Beltway buses starting

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation plans to begin its new Express Connector bus service for commuters Monday, taking advantage of the new express lanes on the west side of the Capital Beltway.

Initially, the rush hour service will link Burke and various destinations in Tysons. The first bus scheduled to leave Burke Centre VRE station at 5:35 a.m. weekdays. The last morning run leaves at 9 a.m. The weekday rips from Tysons Corner Center to the Burke station will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 7 p.m.

The one-way fare will be $3.65 using a SmarTrip card or $4 in cash, but the trips will be free through Jan. 25.

The plan calls for adding Tysons routes from Springfield and Lorton this spring. I hope this program works. The 495 Express Lanes can’t really be a success unless they serve transit users as well as car drivers.

Omniride’s Tysons Express began using the express lanes in November for its route from Woodbridge to Tysons.

Other Fairfax Connector changes

Here are the details of other route and schedule changes in the Fairfax Connector bus system starting Monday:

  • Route 304:  Route eliminated and service replaced by new routes 372 and 394.
  • Route 333: Modified to provide bus service to the new Saratoga Park & Ride and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.
  • Route 371:  Modified service provided in the early morning, midday, evening and weekends.  Rush hour service will be provided by Routes 372 and 373.
  • Route 372:  New rush hour service along Alban Road and Backlick Road to link the Lorton Virginia Railway Express station to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. This route replaces Route 304 along Alban Road.
  • Route 373:  New rush hour service along Rolling Road, Fullerton Road and Boston Boulevard to link the Lorton VRE station to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.
  • Route 394:  New peak-period express service from the Saratoga Park & Ride to the Pentagon Metro station. One-way fare is $5.35 with either cash or SmarTrip. This route replaces Route 304 in the Saratoga neighborhood.

Ride On changes

Montgomery County has made some changes in Ride On bus service. The county says this will add service to new population centers, and make routes operate more efficiently.

Daily service will be added to Potomac Park Park Potomac, a new residential and commercial area off Seven Locks and Montrose roads and Interstate 270. Route 98 will expand to serve several areas, including the Cinnamon Woods neighborhood during peak periods, the Germantown Community Center during midday and the Maryland SoccerPlex on weekends. Service will be provided to a new area at Watkins Mill Road and Route 355 in Germantown. Service within Olney will be restructured, the county said.

The changes affect these routes: 2, 9, 17, 33, 34, 38, 42, 47, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 61, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 98 and the Saturday Z2 service. Use this link to see the new schedules.

Arlington Boulevard interchange

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans lane closings on both sides of Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) from 10th Street to North Rhodes Street over the next week as a part of the Arlington Boulevard/Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange reconstruction.

Monday through Thursday, lane closings will occur on westbound Arlington Boulevard from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the eastbound side from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Friday, closings are scheduled on westbound Arlington Boulevard from 6:30 a.m. to noon and the eastbound side from 9 a.m. to noon.

Mark Center work

This coming week, the left turn lane on Seminary Road (Route 420) west to Mark Center Avenue will be temporarily closed for the construction of two concrete medians and installation of storm drain piping. This is part of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s program to ease traffic congestion around the Mark Center stemming from the transfer of workers as part of the base realignment program.

The turn lane will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and also each of those nights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Next Friday and Saturday nights, the lane will again be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., and then next Sunday night from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The detour will take drivers past Mark Center Avenue to a left turn on North Beauregard Street, then a left on Mark Center Drive. From there, follow signs to Mark Center Avenue.

Merrifield intersection done

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced that it has finished rebuilding the intersection of Lee Highway and Gallows Road in Merrifield. Lee Highway has been widened from two to three lanes for a half mile in each direction between the Capital Beltway and Merrilee Drive. Gallows Road now has three lanes for nearly a mile between Gatehouse Road and Prosperity Avenue.

Dual left-turn lanes were added on Lee Highway. On the westbound side of the highway, there’s now a six-foot-wide sidewalk, and a five-foot-wide sidewalk on the other side. Gallows Road has a 10-foot-wide asphalt path on the west side and a six-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side.

Inauguration Day schedules

Plans continue to fall into place for next Monday, Inauguration Day. I had some travel tips on Sunday’s Commuter page in The Post and will have some more this coming Sunday. Here’s an announcement from Loudoun County Transit about its service plan for Inauguration Day, which also is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

Loudoun County Transit buses will operate between several park and ride lots in Loudoun County and the West Falls Church Metro station. Morning buses to West Falls Church will depart as early as 4:10 a.m. Buses will return to the county at regular intervals between 3 to 7:45 p.m. Transit representatives at the Metro station will direct passengers to their buses. Bus rides will cost $2.50 in cash or $2 with a SmarTrip card.

Here are the details:  

  • Harmony Park and Ride Lot (Hamilton): Departures from 39464 E. Colonial Highway every 30 minutes between 4:15 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Returns from West Falls Church Metro every 30 minutes between 3 and 7:45 p.m. 
  • Leesburg Park and Ride Lot: Departures from 19730 Sycolin Road every 10 minutes between 4:10 and 7:10 a.m. Returns from West Falls Church Metro every 15 minutes between 3 and 7:45 p.m. 
  • Dulles North Transit Center: Departures every 5 minutes between 4:15 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. Returns from West Falls Church Metro every 10 minutes between 3 and 7:45 p.m. 
  • Cascades Area: Five scheduled departures from Broad Run Farms, Cascades and Lowes Island to West Falls Church between 4:39 and 7:10 a.m. Five scheduled returns between 3:10 and 6:55 p.m.  


Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.



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