The Inner Scoop

Police identify pedestrian struck and killed near Fort Belvoir

Posted on: Thursday 2/20/2014 12:25pm

WASHINGTON -- Police have identified the man struck and killed by a car on U.S. 1 near Backlick Road in Fairfax County early Thursday.

William Godfrey Jr, 68, of Alexandria, Va. died at the scene of the accident.

Fairfax County police say he was crossing the highway when a Honda Civic driven by a 58-year-old woman struck him around 5 a.m.

The driver was not hurt.

Police say it appears Godfrey had been drinking.

It does not appear that the driver was drinking or speeding, police say.

The investigation closed all lanes of northbound U.S. 1/Richmond Highway after Backlick Road/Fort Belvoir Tulley Gate during part of the morning commute. The lanes reopened but roads feeding into U.S. 1, including Beulah Road and Telegraph Road remained congested late into the morning commute.

ABC7 Photographer Brad Freitas tweeted this photo from the scene:

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Tractor-trailer crash cleared on Outer Loop

Posted on: Wednesday 2/19/2014 8:37am

WASHINGTON -- A crash involving a tractor-trailer has been cleared after it caused delays on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway in Greenbelt Wednesday morning.

A tractor-trailer drove into the woods on the Outer Loop at MD-201 at about 2:45 a.m. The crash blocked the two right lanes of the Outer Loop and the exit ramp from northbound Kenilworth Avenue to the Outer Loop.

The Outer Loop lanes reopened at about 8:15 a.m. and the ramp from northbound Kenilworth Avenue reopened at about 8:40 a.m.

At one point, delays lasted more than 12 miles as a result of the crash.

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Flyover bridge unveiled in Southeast D.C.

Posted on: Friday 2/7/2014 8:59pm

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A new on-ramp from 8th Street SE will allow traffic from the Barracks Row to merge onto the new bridge in the coming weeks. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON - A new flyover bridge on Interstate 695 was quietly unveiled by the District Department of Transportation on Friday in Southeast D.C.

The new bridge provides a smooth connection between the eastbound Southeast Freeway and the outbound span of the 11th Street Bridge.

The 11th Street Bridge Project, the District's largest road improvement project to date, is more than halfway complete. The new configuration sets the outbound side of the road in its final alignment on its approach toward the Anacostia River.

Additionally, a new on-ramp from 8th Street SE, pictured right, will allow traffic from the Barracks Row to merge onto the new bridge in the coming weeks.

Prior to Friday, eastbound drivers relied on a temporary traffic pattern, using a newly constructed inbound bridge. The inbound bridge is now closed. From the 11th Street Bridge, inbound drivers will continue to use an older flyover ramp to access the westbound Southeast Freeway.

DDOT hopes to have this ramp open within four to six weeks.

Chronic delays caused by the temporary traffic pattern have plagued morning commuters since the project began several years ago. By March, crews hope to have the freeway in its final alignment with a total of six lanes open to traffic.

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WTOP beefs up commuter news with new transit updates

Posted on: Wednesday 2/5/2014 5:19pm

WASHINGTON -- Washington's news, traffic, and weather authority, WTOP and wtop.com, today announced the addition of hourly weekend Metro updates to serve area rail users and visitors.

The updates, which will include information on track work and delays for Metro, MARC, VRE and Amtrak, will air at four minutes past every hour weekends from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is in addition to breaking transit information offered around the clock on WTOP as part of "traffic every ten minutes on the 8's."

"Weekends are a busy time for our listeners who use mass transit, and ironically, that's when the bulk of the track work takes place," says WTOP Traffic Director Jim Battagliese. "Our goal is to inform people with real-time rail updates as they're making weekend travel plans."

Metro is the second busiest transit system in the U.S., behind New York's subway system, averaging more than 700 thousand riders a day, and more than half a million weekend riders WTOP Program Director Laurie Cantillo says, "Metro riders deserve the same real-time information that D.C. area commuters have grown to depend on from the WTOP Traffic Center. This is the next step in our evolution as the region's traffic and transit information leader."

Rail riders can access minute-by-minute information by listening to 103.5 FM, by signing up for special text and email alerts on WTOP.com, and by following @WTOPtraffic on Twitter.

About WTOP WTOP Radio has served the Washington region since 1926 and has been Washington's all-news radio station since 1969. WTOP is the most widely listened-to radio station in the nation's capital. WTOP can be heard on 103.5 FM in the metro, 103.9 FM in Frederick, 107.7 FM to the South and West and worldwide at wtop.com. WTOP and its sister station Federal News Radio are owned and operated by Hubbard Radio, LLC.

# # # Contact: Laurie Cantillo lcantillo@wtop.com

Chinese New Year parade street closures

Posted on: Sunday 2/2/2014 11:23am

WASHINGTON - Happy Chinese New Year! But not so happy if you're trying to get around before the Super Bowl.

The Metropolitan Police Department has a press release detailing the parade's route, duration and information on street closures.

Read the whole press release here.

The parade will be from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The following roadways will be closed to traffic:

  • (Start) 600 block of Eye Street, NW

  • West on Eye Street, NW

  • South on 8th Street, NW

  • East on G Street, NW

  • North on 7th Street, NW to H Street, NW

  • Pedestrians in parade will travel east on H Street, NW

  • Floats and vehicles in parade will travel north on 7th Street, NW and east onto Eye Street, NW and disband.

Road closures planned for State of the Union address

Posted on: Tuesday 1/28/2014 12:51pm

Road closures Jan. 28, 2014 (Capitol Police)
This map shows roads that will be closed starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 for President Obama's State of the Union address.

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress is set for 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Capitol.

Some D.C. streets will be closed that evening for the State of the Union address. U.S. Capitol Police released the following list and map detailing what streets will be affected:

Restricted access: Capitol Square

The following area will be restricted to event credentialed and authorized pedestrians only beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 28, 2014:

  • First Street between Constitution Avenue, NW and Independence Avenue, SW
  • Independence Avenue between First Street, SW and First Street, SE
  • First Street between Independence Avenue, SE and Constitution Avenue, NE
  • Constitution Avenue between First Street, NE and First Street, NW

Road closures The U.S. Capitol Police will put the following road closures (affecting vehicular traffic) into effect at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 and will lift these restrictions upon conclusion of the event:

North side of Capitol Square

  • D Street, NE between 2nd Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • C Street, NE between 2nd Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • Constitution Avenue between 2nd Street, NE & Louisiana Avenue, NW
  • Delaware Avenue between Columbus Circle & Constitution Avenue, NE
  • New Jersey Avenue, NW between Louisiana Avenue, & Constitution Avenue, NW
  • Pennsylvania Avenue between 1st Street, & 3rd Street, NW
  • East Capitol Street between 2nd Street, & 1st Street, NE/SE
  • 1st Street between Columbus Circle, NE & C Street, SE
  • 1st Street between Louisiana Avenue, NW & Washington Avenue, SW
  • 2nd Street NE between Constitution Avenue & East Capitol Street NE

South side of Capitol Square

  • Maryland Avenue, SW between 1st Street, & 3rd Street, SW
  • Independence Avenue between 2nd Street, SE & Washington Avenue, SW
  • C Street between 1st Street, SE & Washington Avenue, SW
  • Delaware Avenue between Washington Avenue, SW & C Street, SW
  • New Jersey Avenue between Independence Avenue, & D Street, SE
  • South Capitol Street between Independence Avenue & D Street, SE/SW

Capitol tours

Public and staff-led tours will be suspended at noon Tuesday. The Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) will also close at noon. However, visitors with gallery passes may continue to enter via the CVC main entrance.

The House Gallery will remain open until 5:30 p.m. or until House recesses, whichever is later. The Senate Gallery will remain open until 6:00 p.m. or until the Senate recesses, whichever is later. Tours will resume on a normal operational schedule on Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

Tour buses

Tour buses will be allowed to drop off and pick up in Peace Circle and Garfield Circle until 4:30 p.m.

We appreciate the assistance of our law enforcement partners, event support personnel, and the community in working with us to manage this significant event. Due to road closures, we advise the public to prepare in advance for detours around the Capitol Square area. We thank you for your patience and apologize for any inconveniences in advance.

If there are any questions about this event, please contact the United States Capitol Police Public Information Office at 202-224-1677.

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Weekend Wakeup: Weather affects road projects

Posted on: Friday 1/10/2014 6:00pm

Weekend drivers hibernate during the winter -- or so it would appear. Whereas summer weekends are abuzz with rush-hour-like-traffic, the roads go quiet during the dreary winter months in Washington.

Even recurring congestion like on I-66 and the predictable sluggishness on the B/W Parkway in Maryland diminishes, with any delays amounting to little more than a nuisance. Barring icy weather or accidents, the wintertime weekend commute is usually a breeze.

There are challenges this time of year: It's pothole season. The last freeze-thaw cycle has left many of the roads around the region pot-marked. Highway crews will be out this weekend repairing these road hazards.

Temperatures this weekend are expected to be 10 to 15 degrees above winter norms, so drivers won't have any ice or snow to worry about. The roads will be slick with rain, especially Saturday afternoon. Big puddles are likely. Slow your speeds and turn your headlights on so other drivers around you can see where you are.

Roadwork Ahead

Most of the long-term road projects across the region will put work on hold until the weather improves. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has postponed Friday's overnight closure of I-395 North at Edsall Road until next weekend. Other previously scheduled work zones along the 29-mile-long project area will likely be scrubbed.

Skies should begin to clear by the latter half of the weekend.

VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division are scheduled to close lanes on I-95 South and Backlick Road south of Springfield, for steel beam placement on Saturday night. If the weather cooperates, all lanes will be closed on Backlick Road and three of the four lanes on I-95 South will be closed starting at 10:30 p.m. Temporary stoppages of traffic are possible on I-95. In the case of inclement weather, the work may be delayed until early morning or put off until Sunday night.

On Sunday morning, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) and the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) plan to close a lane on eastbound and westbound Route 50 (John Hanson Highway) between the Capital Beltway and Route 410 in New Carrollton, Prince George's County. The lane closures are necessary for BGE contractors to relocate utility poles and overhead power lines. Crews may hold traffic for up to 15 minutes at a time. The work should be completed by 10 a.m.

Metrorail Rebuilding

Plan for some delays if you're taking Metro this weekend but all stations are expected to remain open. The track work starts at 10 p.m. on Friday and will last through Sunday night.

Red Line trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont will run every 16 minutes throughout the weekend. Trains between Shady Grove and Union Station will run more frequently during the daytime hours.

Orange Line trains will operate every 20 minutes due to continued reconstruction near the Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations.

Blue Line, Yellow Line, and Green Line trains will also run at 20-minute- intervals.

Weekend Events

There are no events this weekend that pose the potential to cause widespread, major delays. The Washington Wizards will host the Houston Rockets at the Verizon Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Metro testing automatic train operation next month

Posted on: Thursday 1/9/2014 5:37pm

WASHINGTON -- More than four years after a fatal Red Line crash, Metro is getting closer to resume automatic train operation, one of the key components of automatic train control.

In basic terms, the automatic train control is a system of circuits, signals and other equipment that relay signals to track every train and ensure two trains do not collide. It has two key subsystems, automatic train prevention and automatic train operation. The latter allows the train to maintain a smooth and consistent speed that keeps it spaced far enough away from trains in front and behind it. The former helps slow down, or even slam the brakes, when a train gets too close to another train in front of it.

Investigators found the fatal 2009 occurred when the system didn't recognize a train near Fort Totten, sending another train crashing into the back of it.

Since then, Metro has aggressively replaced older circuits made in the 1980s and the older 1000 series cars with new 7000 series cars.

While automatic train control has been always working, trains were switched to manual operation after the crash. In 2014, train operators still manually operate trains.

However next month, Metro plans to begin testing the operation subsystem during the overnight hours. It is the first step towards returning passenger trains to automatic operation.

"It's not only about a safer operation, but it's a smoother operation for the passengers. When we went to manual operation, people were complaining that the stops were a little too short, that the accelerations were a little too quick. That is done away with in automatic train operation," says Metro General Manager Richard Sarles.

He would not offer a timeline on when passengers can expect Metro to switch back to automatic mode, saying he didn't want to rush the job to meet a publicly announced deadline. Metro will meet with the National Safety Transportation Board in March to discuss a safety systems analysis on the entire system. The NTSB made several recommendations after the 2009 crash to improve the system and replace older trains.

D.C. region's worst rush hours of 2013

Posted on: Tuesday 12/31/2013 8:19am

WASHINGTON - Washington commuters expect congestion and delays. Crashes, roadwork and police activity are part of the game.

But put all three together at the height of rush hour and the gridlock ripples across the region. These horrific traffic jams can last for hours and scar drivers for life.

Accidents that wreak havoc in a road network involve overturned trucks, large fires, hazmat responses, spills and serious injuries. They often take hours to resolve and lengthy police investigations prolong their grip on traffic. As officials block a heavily traveled road, drivers quickly overwhelm nearby arteries as they scramble to find an alternate route.

Here are WTOP's five worst rush hours of 2013. Each featured major incidents and extreme, widespread delays that affected tens of thousands of motorists far and wide.

Tuesday, Jan. 8

Gridlock in Georgetown, Key Bridge Closes for Hours

All of the bridges that span the Potomac River near Washington are considered vital for the well-being of the traffic flow near the Nation's Capital. Even a minor, short-lived incident on a bridge can clog lanes on other river crossings.

In 2013, an early January afternoon commute turned into a struggle in Northwest Washington and Arlington, Va., when the Metropolitan Police Department closed the Key Bridge during an apparent suicide negotiation.

The bridge was closed to all traffic for more than three hours during the heart of the afternoon commute. It didn't take long for gridlock to build in Georgetown and Rosslyn. The extended duration of the negotiations and continued closure of the Key Bridge put tremendous strain on the other Potomac River crossings and the routes leading to them in Washington and Virginia. Unusual delays were reported on the Roosevelt Bridge, Memorial Bridge, 14th Street Bridge and Chain Bridge.

Woman struck by vehicle on Suitland Parkway dies

Posted on: Friday 12/27/2013 11:27am

WASHINGTON - A woman is dead after she was struck by a vehicle on the Suitland Parkway, which closed the Maryland roadway Friday morning.

A vehicle hit a woman as he was crossing the street on inbound Suitland Parkway near the intersection of Forestville Road at about 6 a.m. Officials have not yet released the name of the woman who died.

The driver stayed on the scene. Authorities say the driver had a green light at the time of the crash.

U.S. Park Police Capt. Steven Booker says the area is not safe for pedestrians.

"There's no cross walk so it's very unsafe for pedestrians to cross here; it's very hazardous," Booker says.

The crash closed all lanes of inbound Suitland Parkway at Forestville Road from Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue. Officials reopened the lanes at about 10:45 a.m.

Officials are investigating the crash and are asking any witnesses to come forward.

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Editor's note: A previous version of this story said a man died in the crash. U.S. Park Police later corrected the report to say a woman died. We regret the error.

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