Changing Tysons signs

After Alyse Steinborn of Rockville noted in last Sunday’s column that drivers could be confused about Tysons Corner exits from the new 495 Express Lanes, I asked Pierce Coffee, an executive with Transurban, if the lanes’ operator shared Steinborn’s concerns.

The express lanes on the Capital Beltway have three exits for Tysons: at Jones Branch Drive, Westpark Drive and Leesburg Pike. But a driver approaching from the north, as Steinborn was, might have difficulty figuring that out without a reference to “Tysons.” There’s plenty of guidance on the operator’s Web site, at, but how many people do online research before taking a drive?

Coffee told me that the operator plans to put some messages about Tysons exits on the signs within the lanes in the hope that this would get the word out to drivers, particularly about the access available from the new exits at Jones Branch and Westpark. As you drive by, see if you think that clarifies the geography.

Still driving trains

During my weekly online discussion Monday, a traveler asked if Metro has made public any plans to return the trains to automated control. No, Metro still has not announced a timetable.

The trains are designed to be operated without drivers, but the automated controls were suspended after the June 2009 Red Line crash, while Metro reviewed the safety issues involved and made fixes to the control system. That’s still a work in progress.

Questions about the controls usually come up after travelers finish a ride aboard a train that lurched its way to the platform. Some train drivers are better than others.

Silver Line meetings

Metro plans to hold three open houses this coming week to answer questions about the Silver Line, scheduled to open by the end of the year. The new Metrorail line, which will provide service between the Reston area in Virginia and Largo Town Center in Maryland, is likely to change the commuting habits of thousands of travelers.

Here’s the schedule for the three meetings:

Tuesday, 5 to 8 p.m.: Faith Temple No. 2 Baptist Church, 211 Maryland Park Dr., Capitol Heights; Thursday, 5 to 8 p.m.: Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Rd., Reston; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington.

St. Patrick’s SoberRide

SoberRide, offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, will once again provide those 21 and older with a safe ride home if they’ve celebrated too much on St. Patrick’s Day. The operation begins at 4 p.m. March 17 and continues until 4 o’clock the next morning.

During that time, residents of the D.C. area can call the toll-free line, 800-200-TAXI, and get a free ride home, up to the equivalent of a $30 fare.

Metro track work

Next weekend is the last before Metro gives riders a month-long Cherry Blossom Festival break from major track work.

But first comes a disruption on the Red Line from 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Sunday, March 17. (Keep this in mind if you are out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.) Buses will replace trains between NoMa-Gallaudet and Takoma. The Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations will be closed, along with the Red Line platform at Fort Totten.

Planning I-66

Reminder: The Department of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation in Virginia will hold two public hearings this coming week on their plans for long-term changes along the Interstate 66 corridor outside the Beltway.

The first hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at Four Points by Sheraton, 10800 Vandor Lane, Manassas, the second for Thursday at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church. Both are from 6 to 9 p.m.

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