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Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips: Silver Line progress, track work, freeway closings

Workers make their way through a tunnel under the Tysons Corner area of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project in Virginia, in this Wednesday, September 28, 2011 file photo. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Silver Line testing

If you were stranded on the Green Line on Wednesday night, the last thing you need is a reminder about the role third rails play in Metro train operations. But I did notice one bit of encouraging news on this topic.

Workers on the Dulles Metrorail project energized a portion of the third rail for the Silver Line on Wednesday so they could begin testing this essential part of future train operations. The first section being tested is between the Silver Line’s future link to the Orange Line and a point just north of Magarity Road in McLean. Testing of various sections will continue into March.

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. View Archive

Metro officials hope to get the new line in operation by the end of the year, but that depends on the results of a lengthy testing period that eventually will involve trains too.

Fairfax bus meetings

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation has begun public meetings to discuss proposed bus links with the Silver Line. These are the remaining meetings, all of which are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.:

Monday, a discussion of Vienna service at Westbriar Elementary School, 1741 Pine Valley Dr., Vienna; Tuesday, a discussion of Merrifield-Tysons service at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church; Wednesday, a discussion of Herndon service at the Town Council Center, 765 Lynn St., Herndon; Thursday, a discussion of Reston service at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, Jo Ann Rose Library, 1609A Washington Plaza, Reston; Feb. 11, another Reston service discussion at Lake Anne Elementary School, 11510 North Shore Dr., Reston.

Thinking long term for Metro
Presidents’ Day weekend

Metrorail has big plans for track work over the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend, Feb. 16 to 18. On the Blue and Orange lines, free shuttle buses will replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly and Largo Town Center. The Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Benning Road, Capitol Heights, Addison Road, Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center stations all will be closed for this switch replacement project.

On the Green Line, buses will replace trains between the College Park and Greenbelt stations. The Greenbelt station will be closed to rail passengers. This is the area where Metro is building a test track for the next generation of rail cars.

95 Express Lanes

During Monday’s online chat, we discussed the high-occupancy toll lanes already open on the Capital Beltway and under construction on Interstate 95 in Virginia. Travelers’ comments continue to remind me that these lanes are a big departure from the styles of highway driving we’re used to in the D.C. region.

This was one question: “We drive from D.C. to Dumfries (weekends mostly) and try to take advantage of the HOV [high-occupancy vehicle] lanes, which are free now. Will we have to pay to use them in the future?”

Yes. The 95 Express Lanes will be very similar to the 495 Express Lanes on the Beltway. Tolls will be in effect all day, every day. Drivers who meet the HOV3 requirement and have an E-ZPass Flex transponder can ride toll-free.

D.C. freeway closings

The District Department of Transportation has taken the next step in rebuilding part of the Southeast Freeway by closing the eastbound lanes between Eighth Street SE and Pennsylvania Avenue. Late last year, the westbound lanes were closed.

This portion of the freeway on the south side of Capitol Hill is being raised up and rebuilt into a boulevard, with better connections to the adjacent neighborhood. Barney Circle, on the east end of the project, eventually will be rebuilt into a real traffic circle.

Meanwhile, the freeway section will be closed for about a year and a half. Eastbound freeway traffic heading toward I-295/
DC 295 or Pennsylvania Avenue SE should continue across the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River.

For more transportation news, go to

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