Bikeshare rolls into Montgomery County, could bring changes for motorists

Posted on: Thursday 9/26/2013 4:25am

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This Capital Bikeshare station on Cordell Street is one of two along Norfolk Street in the Woodmont Triangle section of Bethesda, Md. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

SILVER SPRING, Md. - Capital Bikeshare's sturdy red bikes roll into Montgomery County on Friday.

Their arrival signals not only a new transportation option for local neighborhoods, but also a glimpse of changes still to come for drivers and pedestrians in the area.

The popular bike sharing program, already well established in the District and Arlington County, launches in Maryland with three locations: Silver Spring, Bethesda and downtown Rockville.

"We get it now," says Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who started working toward the bike sharing program in 2007. "We have trails that were never completed, and so we have lots of very frustrated residents."

Now, the influx of new bikes adds some urgency to shore up the county's infrastructure to match the new demands for safe places to cycle.

"Our streets are not striped everywhere like they are in D.C., our motorists and our pedestrians are not used to sharing the roadways and the sidewalks yet and we have some very interesting laws that allow bicyclists to be on sidewalks with pedestrians," Ervin says.

Also, she said she hopes for some uniform policies across the county that address issues like riding a bike on the sidewalk.

"Montgomery County is not as biker-friendly as Washington, D.C., and Arlington are, but we're getting there quickly," she says.

One significant change could affect those who prefer to get around on four wheels.

"For safety purposes we want to look at preventing right turns on red [lights] just in the most densely populated areas of the county," Ervin says.

"We know that there are going to be a lot of unhappy people, but Montgomery County is growing up," she says.

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Overturned truck, fuel spill close NB I-95 in Howard County

Posted on: Tuesday 9/24/2013 8:40am

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The crash caused fuel to spill onto the roadway. (Courtesy of TrafficLand)

WASHINGTON - An overturned truck caused delays for commuters on northbound Interstate 95 Tuesday morning.

A box truck overturned on northbound I-95 before 7 a.m., causing all lanes to close to traffic after Route 100 in Howard County. All lanes reopened to traffic about two hours later.

The crash caused fuel to spill onto the roadway. Crews cleaned up the spill and reopened all of the lanes.

It is not yet clear if anyone sustained injuries in the crash.

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Delays expected on blue and orange lines

Posted on: Tuesday 9/24/2013 6:10am

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Metro riders traveling on the orange and blue lines this weekend can expect longer wait times because of improvement work being done on the system.

Metro says beginning at 10 p.m. Friday night and continuing through closing on Sunday, orange line and blue line trains will operate every 16 minutes. That's as opposed to every 12 minutes when no work is being done on the weekend. Metro says that it's doing work on both lines to upgrade track infrastructure, make structural repairs, plug leaks and install new ceiling tiles.

Riders can expect regular service on the red, yellow and green lines.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tractor trailer crash causes NB I-95 delays

Posted on: Monday 9/23/2013 11:14am

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The crash is blocking the right lane of I-95 before Route 619/Triangle exit out of Quantico in addition to the exit ramp for Triangle/Quantico at about 6:45 a.m. (Courtesy of VDOT)

WASHINGTON - A crash involving two tractor trailers caused delays on northbound Interstate 95 before Route 619 Monday morning.

The crash, which happened at about 6:45 a.m., blocked the right lane of I-95 before Route 619/Triangle exit out of Quantico.

Emergency crews responded to the scene, although it is not yet clear if there are injuries.

At 7 a.m., the crash caused a 10-mile delay from Stafford to Triangle. The crash was later cleared and the lanes reopened.

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Tags: i-95

Tractor trailer fire causes delays on Beltway's Inner Loop in Maryland

Posted on: Friday 9/20/2013 6:56am

WASHINGTON - A tractor trailer fire caused delays on the Beltway in Maryland Friday morning.

A tractor trailer crashed into an abandoned vehicle on the Inner Loop of the Beltway in College Park, Md., at about 5 a.m. The collision caused the tractor trailer to catch fire.

No one sustained injuries in the crash, according to Maryland State Police. Fire crews responded to the scene and worked through the morning to extinguish the blaze.

The accident caused lane and ramp closures in the area. By 7 a.m., the through lanes had reopened, but the ramp to Route 1 remained closed.

It is not yet clear what caused the tractor trailer to hit the abandoned vehicle.

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Chips and dings: Filing complaints for damage due to road work

Posted on: Friday 9/20/2013 5:23am

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''2 cracks in the windshield, one just a month ago. I commute from Arlington to Alexandria, 395 has lots of trucks not covered properly,'' Duke Myers says in a post on WTOP's Facebook page. (Facebook/Duke Myers)

WASHINGTON - Driving through the multiple repaving projects across the region is not for those who kiss their cars goodnight. Chances are, the windshield and the hood have a few dings, cracks or chips.

Some drivers who commute through road construction daily have damage to their car and have been unsure of where to go to file a complaint.

Adrian Kessler, of Lorton, Va., has been trying to figure out what construction company to contact as his Subaru is riddled with dings and dents.

"You can't fault the driver in front of you for kicking up the stuff that's on the ground. I'm just annoyed by the lack of clean-up every night," Kessler says.

He takes issue with the repaving project on Interstate 495 by FedEx Field between Landover, Md., and Joint Base Andrews.

While the Maryland Highway Administration says the shoulder and ramps of that project should be completed by late October, Kessler is not alone. Drivers' vehicles take little hits traveling through construction all around the area.

On WTOP's Facebook page, Richard Freeman says he has two recent nicks to his windshield from work between Route 50 and Route 4.

"It appears they are not been doing as good of a job 'sweeping' after tearing up the pavement and cleaning the debris left over. Is there a way to get the state to repair the nicks," Freeman says.

While the state doesn't promise any compensation, the Maryland State Highway Administration allows drivers to file complaints, where they can list the damage done to their car and the specific area where it occurred.

On each contracted job, an MTA engineer is on the site, responsible for managing the timeline of work and things like clean-up.

"The inspector will generally ride through the area afterwards. We do have a little precaution there built-in to do the right thing, for best practices," says state highway spokesman Charlie Gischlar.

Clean-up is part of the job, Gischlar says, but there is the chance of some debris left on the roadway.

"Whenever you have a job, there is a possibility of having a minor pebbles stuff like that. We advise our contractor, they have to run a street sweeper through there. And then after that, it's the brand new pavement," Gischlar says.

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Survey: Mass transit more popular, but most still drive by themselves

Posted on: Thursday 9/19/2013 5:04am

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WASHINGTON - Most people continue driving to work, but more and more are looking to telework and mass transit options, a new survey finds.

From the Transportation Planning Board's Commuter Connections program, the new survey finds mass transit and teleworking are becoming more popular, but most still drive a car into work and are the only occupant in that car.

However, the survey finds that the numbers vary greatly depending on where you live.

In D.C., Arlington and Alexandria, 45 percent commute alone in a car, with 34 percent using mass transit options and 8 percent biking or walking to work.

"It makes sense to see these numbers because there are so many options in the inner core to get around," says Nicholas Ramfos, director of commuter connections.

All three jurisdictions have Metro, VRE and Capital Bikeshare. With rail, bus and bicycle options, commuters have several options at their disposal that are close to their homes and convenient to use to get to their office.

But in Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax counties, the numbers drastically change. According to the survey, 70 percent drive alone into work, whereas only 15 percent take mass transit. The numbers could be considered a little surprising only because there are mass transit options in the three suburbs from Metro, MARC and VRE, as well as local commuter bus systems like Montgomery County Ride-On and the Fairfax Connector.

"There are a lot of Metro stations, but you also have to look at the population base, too. The population base is much larger than you would maybe see in some of the inner core," says Ramfos.

Three counties have about three million residents combined, compared to about one million in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. Also, while several parts of Montgomery, Prince George's and Fairfax counties do have easy access to Metro, MARC or VRE, there are other locations where that's not the case.

"There a lot of factors that go into what mode of transportation you use to commute into work. It depends on where you live, where you work, what your work hours are, and the availability and convenience of different travel modes near you," says Ramfos.

For example, the survey finds that in the inner core (Arlington, Alexandria, D.C.) 84 percent of people live less than a half-mile from a bus stop, whereas the number in the inner suburbs is 53 percent. When you expand it to the outer suburbs like Loudoun and Prince William counties and Viriginia and Charles, Calvert and Frederick counties in Maryland, the number is 15 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the survey finds a vast majority of commuters from those outer suburbs drive into their office. The survey finds 75 percent drive, whereas only 8 percent use mass transit. While there are commuter bus options in these counties, along with VRE in Prince William County and MARC in Frederick County, these options are not nearly as popular as taking the car.

"The bigger message here is giving people options, so that you're really not just boxed into just getting into my car and being stuck in traffic for an hour-and-a-half each way," says Ramfos.

It's a popular idea in the transportation community to fund projects to make mass transit options more attractive, hoping it'll convince drivers to shed the car for a bus or train. For Loudoun and Prince William counties, such an achievement could make a big difference on the congestion problem along Interstate 66, Virginia Route 7 and U.S. Route 1. In Frederick County, it could result in drastic improvements in the congestion problem along Interstate 270 each day.

"While there has been a lot of work on offering better options for commuters from these outer suburbs, the trend that more people will drive the farther out you go will likely continue in the future," says Ramfos.

The "State of the Commute" survey is done every three years and helps the Transportation Planning Board and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments predict future travel patterns and suggest ways to better tailor transportation to the growing population.

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Overturned vehicle causes delays on I-495

Posted on: Tuesday 9/17/2013 10:29am

Inner Loop crash (TrafficLand)
A look at the delay and lane getting by after the overturned vehicle. (Courtesy of TrafficLand)

WASHINGTON - In Maryland, an accident involving an overturned vehicle caused major delays for commuters on Interstate 495/Beltway Inner Loop.

The accident caused back ups on I-495/ Beltway Inner Loop between Rt. 650 New Hampshire Avenue and Interstate 95. For some time, only a single right lane got getting by the large emergency response.

By 10:50 a.m., all lanes had been cleared.

Officials have not yet said if anyone was injured in the crash.

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DDOT: Streets near Navy Yard reopen after shooting

Posted on: Tuesday 9/17/2013 9:00am

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Transportation officials say streets and bridges around the Washington Navy Yard have reopened after a deadly shooting rampage there.

Authorities closed roads and bridges in the Navy Yard area on Monday after a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding several more before being killed in a shootout with police.

The District Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that all streets and bridges near the Navy Yard have reopened for the morning commute.

The Navy announced that access to the Navy Yard would be restricted to mission essential personnel on Tuesday.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Weekend Wakeup: Express Lane closures and downtown D.C. events might cause congestion

Posted on: Friday 9/13/2013 3:08pm

WASHINGTON -- As the summer travel season begins to wind down, construction of the new I-95/395 Express Lanes is heating up. Full closures of the Express Lanes are set to begin this weekend. But unlike in weekends past, the lanes will remain closed all day Saturday and through most of Sunday.

Weekend drivers on I-95 should brace for delays during the daytime hours.

On Friday night, the Virginia Department of Transportation will close the reversible HOV lanes on I-95/395 from south of Route 236 to Dumfries. They will remain closed on Saturday. The lanes are expected to reopen to northbound traffic by 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Similar closures will take place every weekend this month. In October, as highway volume further wanes, the Express Lanes will be closed all weekend through to the Monday morning rush hour. Crews will use the extra work space to complete tasks like milling and paving the new road surface as well as overhead sign, drainage, and barrier installation.

In an effort to alleviate some congestion on the mainline, VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation will begin offering a Saturday bus service between the Potomac Mills Mall and the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station. The Saturday bus service will be free for a three-month period. Buses will also make stops at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Transit Center in Dale City, offering additional transfer opportunities. Here's the schedule.

Navy-Air Force Half Marathon

Expect street closures in Northwest Washington around 5 a.m. Saturday for the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. The runners will hit the pavement shortly after 7 a.m. The Navy-Air force Half Marathon and Navy 5 Miler is hosted by Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

The entire length of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway will be closed to traffic. Beach Drive will remain open but traffic south of the National Zoo will be diverted into Woodley Park.

Arlington Memorial Bridge, Memorial Circle, and Lincoln Circle will be closed to traffic for much of the morning. Arlington National Cemetery will be accessible from Route 110 and the southbound George Washington Parkway.

The race course includes Ohio Drive, Independence Avenue, Maine Avenue, and 15th Street NW near the Tidal Basin and Potomac Park.

Most streets will be open by 11 a.m. except in the area around the awards ceremony on the National Mall.

Metro will open its doors early at 6 a.m. for participants and spectators. The closest Metro stop to the start of the race is Smithsonian Station.

9-11 Heroes 5K Race Street Closures

There will be several street closures on Saturday morning in Crystal City for the 9-11 Heroes 5K Race. The run starts at 8:30 a.m.

A portion of South Glebe Road northbound will be closed between 8:15 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. Other streets affected include 23rd Street, South Eads Street, South Fern Street, and Arlington Ridge Road. Parking near the race course will be restricted.

Weekend Fairs and Festivals

Doug Hill in the WTOP Weather Center predicts picture-perfect weather for fairgoers this weekend. The Maryland Renaissance Festival and the Anne Arundel County Fair in Crownsville, the Charles County Fair in La Plata, and the Great Frederick Fair in Frederick will draw crowds. Expect some congestion on the routes near the county fairgrounds.

Frederick's 31st annual In The Street Celebration is this Saturday. Market Street, All Saints Street, Church Street and more will be closed. Patrick Street and 7th Street should remain open to traffic.

Follow police direction and expect some delay if you plan to travel through downtown Frederick. Pets or animals of any kind are not allowed at the event. Due to expected large crowds, bicycles will be prohibited inside the event area.

In Arlington Heights, the street fair known as Prio Bangla Potho Mela will block South 9th Street from Walter Reed Drive to South Highland Street on Saturday. Street parking in the area will be restricted. Expect localized congestion and plenty of foot traffic.

D.C. Roadwork

Repairs to the old Arizona Avenue Railroad Bridge over Canal Road will be conducted this weekend. Crews will block a lane of Canal Road between Arizona Avenue and Chain Bridge between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Work on the New York Avenue Bridge over the rail yard north of Union Station continues this weekend. A single lane will be blocked on the inbound side of New York Avenue between Penn Street and Florida Avenue Friday night until 12 p.m. on Saturday. For more on the new sculptures above New York Avenue, read this story.

Metrorail Track Work

Track Work will result in service delays on the Red, Orange, and Green lines this weekend but all stations will remain open. A portion of the Blue and Yellow lines will be closed. Those with plans to take Metro to National Airport should plan ahead for delays. The Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations will both be closed from 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, reopening Monday morning.

Buses will be replacing Blue and Yellow line trains between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Riders detouring around the work zone on buses may experience delays of up to 20 minutes. Trains will run at normal intervals outside the work zone.

Red Line trains are expected to run on-time between Shady Grove and Medical Center. Brief delays are possible for riders between Grosvenor and Shady Grove.

Track work on the eastern side of the Orange Line will cause Orange Line trains to operate every 20 minutes throughout the weekend.

Green Line trains will operate every 16 minutes throughout the weekend.

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