Metro weekend work

A traveler asked me to explain why Metro focuses its rebuilding program on the weekends, inconveniencing many thousands of riders. Why not work overnight when the rail system is closed?

Metro’s position is that there aren’t enough hours to get much work done between the midnight closing on weeknights and the 5 a.m. resumption of service. Given the time it takes to reposition trains after passenger service stops and the time for the work crews to set up and later take down their equipment, it’s much less than five hours of unfettered access to the tracks and platforms each night.

Crews do work weeknights, starting at 10 p.m., which results in train delays of about 10 minutes during the final two hours of weeknight service. But the real pain for riders occurs between 10 p.m. Fridays and the midnight closing Sundays. That’s when the transit authority concentrates its major projects, during the hours when ridership is low — at least compared with weekdays.

That’s when Metro figures it can shut entire sections of lines and provide buses to bridge the gaps, or have trains share one of the two tracks to get around the work zones.

Expect this aggressive program to last until 2017.

Monday’s chat

Each Monday, I host an online discussion with travelers about our local traffic and transit issues. Usually, it starts at noon, but this Monday we plan to begin at 1 p.m.

Here’s the link for Monday’s chat: . You can submit questions or comments in advance by visiting that page.

University boulevard

Drivers on University Boulevard, a major east-west link in Montgomery County, have been watching some early work for replacement of the bridge deck over the Capital Beltway in Silver Spring. Other work will include structural repairs, cleaning, painting and resurfacing of the bridge approaches.

The Maryland State Highway Administration estimates that the project will have a moderate impact on traffic along this busy commuter route. Work is scheduled to be done in summer 2015.

The work plan calls for shifting traffic lanes on University Boulevard between Indian Spring Drive south of the Beltway and Lexington Drive on the north side during off-peak hours. Workers also will shift lanes on the Beltway between University Boulevard and Colesville Road overnights Sunday through Thursday.

Metrobus changes

Metro has made some changes in the MetroExtra limited stop bus services on Columbia Pike that take commuters to and from the District.

A later MetroExtra trip has been added on the evening route of the 16X to increase service between the Federal Triangle Metro station and the Culmore community.

Also, a new stop has been added at Columbia Pike and Oakland Street for both the 16X and 16Y MetroExtra routes. The 16Y operates between the Barcroft community and the McPherson Square station.

The MetroExtra buses charge the same fares as the regular Metrobuses: $1.80 in cash or $1.60 using a SmarTrip card.

Ups and downs

A commuter who uses the Farragut West station said he was puzzled to find that during the afternoon rush, there are two escalators going up and only one going down, since down is the most popular direction at that time.

He said the station manager told him it was Metro policy. That’s true.

At some of the busy stations where there are banks of three escalators in working condition, Metro has two going up and one down. It’s a way of slowing the number of people entering the station so that the platform doesn’t become dangerously crowded.

For more transportation news, visit