The Inner Scoop

AAA: Speed limit increases in D.C. lead to fewer speed camera tickets

Posted on: Tuesday 9/10/2013 5:59am

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The speed limit was increased on some D.C. roadways in late 2012. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - The number of speed camera tickets issued to motorists in portions of the District has decreased, new numbers show.

At multiple sites in D.C. where the speed limit was increased in late 2012, AAA found both the number of tickets issued and revenue from them have decreased.

On Canal Road, for example, 11,000 tickets were issued in a period prior to the speed limit increase. In the corresponding period after the increase, only about 1,900 tickets were issued.

At one camera location on southbound Interstate 295 near Exit 1, tickets dropped 51 percent and revenue went down 60 percent.

"Drivers for a generation have complained about the artificially low speed limits on D.C. 295," says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, D, says speed limits in the District have sometimes been set too low, and the numbers show the need to set speed limits correctly.

"Otherwise, motorists feel the cameras are unfair -- acting like speed traps," Mendelson says.

D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, says he is glad the numbers are going down, but thinks they might be indicative of another issue.

"The decline in revenue is good news because it means fewer people are speeding, but Maryland and Virginia charge between $40 and $60 for speeding -- D.C. the average ticket is now around $120. Seems like it's just a way to get into people's pockets," Wells says.

According to AAA, the city lowered the average speed camera ticket from $100 to $92 in April.

D.C. police did not comment on the data and referred WTOP to the D.C. Department of Transportation. A DDOT spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

A camera that issued an increased number of speeding tickets is located in the 2700 block of westbound New York Avenue NE. That device saw a 43 percent jump in citations and a more than 16 percent increase in revenue.

Ari Ashe contributed to this report. Follow @AriAsheWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

Redskins' home opener to cause major traffic delays

Posted on: Monday 9/9/2013 10:03pm

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Quarterback RGIII and Redskins fans are ready for the home opener, but commuters may not be as excited. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - The Redskins home opener on Monday Night Football will put a crimp in many commuters' plans that evening as the 'Skins host the Eagles.

"It's the regular Monday afternoon rush hour coupled with the Monday Night Football game at FedEx Field could be very ugly on Monday," says WTOP director of traffic and transit Jim Battagliese.

The start time is moved up to 6:55 p.m., which pushes up the opening of the gates and parking lot. Fans can access the parking lots around FedEx Field starting at 3 p.m. and the gates open at 5 p.m.

The best advice from the Traffic Center: leave as early as possible and expect delays if you're heading in the direction of the burgundy and gold.

"This is a Monday evening rush hour, so it's going to be nasty heading to FedEx Field or if you're heading home through that area," Battagliese says.

The Redskins have set up stadium traffic updates to help fans navigate their way to and around the stadium on game days. Fans can text RSTRAFFIC to 44636 or sign up for mobile text alerts.

Fans can review directions to FedEx Field in case they want to try another route or need to access a different parking zone.

Below is a map of FedExField:


View Larger Map

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Classes cancelled at U. of Md. Largo for Redskins traffic

Posted on: Monday 9/9/2013 1:10pm

WASHINGTON - The anticipated gridlock for Monday night's Redskins game is already having an effect.

Night classes at the University of Maryland University College's Largo campus have been canceled.

A spokesman from the school says only a small number of classes were scheduled for Monday night and they didn't want students and faculty caught in what could be a traffic nightmare.

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Jackknifed semi causes delays on Inner Loop of Beltway

Posted on: Monday 9/9/2013 10:22am

WASHINGTON - In Prince George's County, a jackknifed semi on the Inner Loop of the Beltway caused delays before Rt. 201/Kenilworth Avenue.

Emergency crews responded to the scene to evaluate a possible fuel spill caused by the crash.

It is not yet clear if the driver of the semi or any other motorists sustained injuries in the crash.

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Weekend Wakeup: Road races, festivals to close roads

Posted on: Saturday 9/7/2013 2:03am

WASHINGTON - Seasonal temperatures and moderate humidity will present ideal conditions for the many races set to take place around the Washington area this weekend.

Driving anywhere near these events, however, could be very challenging. Motorists will encounter numerous road closures related to the Nation's Triathlon, the Parks Half Marathon, the Arlington 9/11 5K and others at various times throughout the weekend.

Beat the Deadline 5K

The Beat the Deadline 5K, benefiting the work of the National Press Club's Journalism Institute, starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Portions of Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue will be closed roughly between Freedom Plaza and the U.S. Capitol through late morning. Most of the closures should be lifted by 9:30 a.m.

Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff Memorial 9/11 5K

On Saturday afternoon and evening several streets around the Pentagon and Crystal City will be closed for the 2013 Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff Memorial 9/11 5K race. Most of the closures are scheduled between 5:45 and 6:30 p.m. but could last longer depending on when the last participants cross the finish line near the DoubleTree Hotel in Crystal City.

Washington Boulevard will be closed from the Memorial Bridge to Interstate 395. Southbound Route 110 will be closed its length from Rosslyn to Crystal City. Portions of Army Navy Drive, South Joyce Street and Columbia Pike will also be closed. The race will also block the I-395 express lanes until at least 8 p.m.

Nation's Triathlon

On Sunday morning, the 8th Annual Events DC Nation's Triathlon to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will bring thousands of athletes into Washington in addition to thousands of spectators. The race course will close numerous routes along the National Mall, Tidal Basin, Potomac Park, Rock Creek Park and even a portion of I-395 in Arlington. Most road closures will be in place by 6 a.m. and will last through the midday hours. Those with travel plans near downtown areas should have a backup plan and an alternate route in mind.

A number of major routes through the District of Columbia will be closed to traffic including Independence Avenue, 14th Street SW, the Potomac Freeway/E Street Expressway, the Whitehurst Freeway, Rock Creek Parkway and Maine Avenue. These closures will be implemented by sunrise and many will be remain in place until 1:00 p.m.

Constitution Avenue is expected to remain open Sunday morning but will likely be very congested. There will be no access to the Potomac Freeway, the E Street Expressway, or Independence Avenue from the inbound Roosevelt Bridge (interstate 66). All inbound traffic from Virginia will be directed onto Constitution Avenue.

The Nation's Tri will block the ramps to lower 14th Street SW and Maine Avenue westbound from I-395 but the freeway itself will be open to traffic.

Parks Half Marathon

Several roads between Rockville and Bethesda will be closed on Sunday morning for the Parks Half Marathon. The north and southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue will be closed to traffic near the intersection of Jones Bridge Road for this race.

The race starts at the intersection of Stonestreet Avenue and Highland Avenue near the Rockville Metro station and heads south to Veirs Mill Road. Look for police direction on Veirs Mill Road between Rockville and Aspen Hill Road and Randolph Road near Dewey Drive early in the race.

Once on the Capitol Crescent/Georgetown Branch Trail, runners will head west and cross Connecticut Avenue near Chevy Chase Lake Drive. Connecticut Avenue will be closed in both directions from 8:00 a.m. to 9:37 a.m. in this area. Small warning signs have been posted along Connecticut Avenue for a few weeks but many drivers will still be caught off-guard. Delays are likely between the Beltway and East-West Highway. Drivers are urged to take Georgia Avenue or Wisconsin Avenue to bypass this closure.

Howard County Police Pace 5K Race & 1 Mile Fun Walk & Run

The 2nd Annual Howard County Police Pace 5K Race & 1 Mile Fun Walk & Run, sponsored by the Howard County Police Foundation, will take place Sunday morning at 8:30.

The 5K course includes a portion of Route 108/Clarksville Pike near Centennial Lake, part of which will be blocked for the runners.

Other Events

The 11th Street Local Bridge between the Navy Yard and Historic Anacostia will be closed for a celebration and bridge dedication from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature family-friendly activities, music and food. The closure is not expected to have a major impact on traffic because the main spans of the 11th Street Bridge between the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and Interstate 295 will be open.

The Frederick Douglass Bridge swing span is up for its monthly testing this weekend from 4 to 9 a.m. Sunday. The bridge will be closed to traffic between the Suitland Parkway and Nationals Park during this time.

The Pepsi Fan Festival and AT&T Nation's Football Classic will take place at RFK Stadium from late morning through the evening Saturday. Expect heavy traffic on D.C. Route 295/Kenilworth Avenue a times throughout the day.

Sunday is also Adams Morgan Day. Food, families and music will keep 18th Street NW closed all day long between Florida Avenue and Columbia Road. Parking will be limited on the side streets and in the nearby neighborhoods.

Metrorail Delays and Closings

Weekend track work will close a few stations on the Orange and Red lines. Those with travel plans that involve a connection at Washington's Union Station should build extra time into their itinerary as Metro trains will not be running. Free bus service will ferry Metro customers around the work zones but delays of up to an hour are possible.

On the Red Line buses replace trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Judiciary Square. The Union Station and NoMa-Gallaudet stations will be closed. Local and express buses will be available outside the affected stations. Trains are expected to run at normal intervals on the Red Line outside of this work zone.

On the Orange Line buses replace trains between Vienna and Ballston. The Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church stations will be closed. Local and express buses will be available outside the affected stations. Trains are expected to run at normal intervals from Ballston to New Carrollton.

There is no scheduled work on the Green and Yellow lines. Customers on the Blue Line who depart Franconia-Springfield will experience some delays.

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Buses replace trains on 2 lines for weekend work

Posted on: Thursday 9/5/2013 7:07am

WASHINGTON (AP) - Free shuttle buses will replace trains on sections of Metro's red and orange lines this weekend.

Metro says that beginning at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing through closing Sunday, buses will replace red line trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Judiciary Square. Metro will operate nonstop buses between the two stations as well as buses that stop at intermediate stations. Metro says travelers taking the express bus should add about 15 minutes of travel time. Local bus riders can expect an additional 10 minutes per stop they are traveling.

On the orange line, free shuttle buses will replace trains between Vienna and Ballston. Four stations will be closed. Metro says travelers using nonstop buses between Vienna and Ballston can expect to add 25 minutes to their travel time.


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

After long holiday comes the traffic blues

Posted on: Thursday 9/5/2013 4:49am

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Shorter days and longer commutes are ahead. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - Like WTOP Traffic has reported, the roads seem even more congested after the long Labor Day weekend.

It's because they're back: Shorter days and longer commutes.

Terrible Tuesday, Wicked Wednesday, Tumultuous Thursday -- no matter how it's sliced, the week after the holiday has a reputation of being unpleasant on the roads. And next week will be even worse.

"It's going to gradually build up, especially with Congress coming back next week," says Jim Battagliese, Director of Traffic for WTOP.

Daily routines also start to change this time of year with BRAK impact, a new school year and vacations coming to a close. And with those changes come shifts in travel patterns -- and increased gridlock.

"The sun angle is getting lower...During morning rush hour it's right in your eyes as you head east, going home [it's] in your eyes as you head west," says Battagliese.

But, hopefully, relief should come by the third week of September. As everyone adjusts to their new schedules, traffic patterns should start to ease.

"I'd say by the third week of September we should have all adjusted to getting back to work and school and you should start to see traffic patterns ease a little bit," says Battagliese.

WTOP's David Dildine contributed to this report.

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Overturned truck causes delays on SB I-95 in Md.

Posted on: Wednesday 9/4/2013 7:38am

I 95 crash (Courtesy of News Chopper 7)
An overturned paving truck caused major delays on SB I-95 in Maryland. (Courtesy of News Chopper 7)

WASHINGTON - An accident involving an overturned paving truck caused major delays on southbound Interstate 95 in Maryland Wednesday morning.

The southbound lanes of I-95 past Rt. 32 in Maryland were closed to traffic after a paving truck overturned on an uneven part of the road, causing the driver to be entrapped in the truck.

The lanes close to traffic at about 5:30 a.m. when a helicopter responded to the scene to transport the victim. The closures persisted as emergency crews worked to clear the scene.

All lanes reopened before 7 a.m. -- more than an hour after the original closure. Even after the accident was cleared, delays persisted for drivers on southbound I- 95.

Authorities have not released information about the extent of the driver's injuries.

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Study: Higher toll prices attract drivers to HOT Lanes

Posted on: Tuesday 9/3/2013 4:21am

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A study found a higher toll price actually leads to more drivers using the HOT Lanes. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - It's the question that drivers on the Virginia side of the Beltway face every day: are the Express Lanes worth it?

A study of similar lanes in Minnesota finds that a higher toll price actually leads to more drivers using the lanes.

"This positive relationship between price and demand is in contrast with the previously held belief that raising the price would discourage demand," the study says.

The researchers say they think drivers may not realize that the prices fluctuate based on how many cars are in the Express Lanes without regard for the congestion in the free, general purpose lanes.

The University of Minnesota study finds that drivers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area consistently paid between approximately $60-120 per hour of travel time savings, much higher than the average value of time.

High occupancy toll lanes (HOT Lanes) operate on the idea that higher prices will discourage drivers from using the lanes. The idea is that by raising tolls until fewer drivers enter the lanes, the operators can guarantee a speedy commute.

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What's open and closed on Labor Day

Posted on: Monday 9/2/2013 7:00pm

WASHINGTON - To help you plan for your Labor Day, WTOP has a list of what's open and closed in your area Monday, Sept. 2.

Closed:

  • Federal and local government offices
  • Schools
  • Post offices
  • Libraries

Open: According to The Washington Post, most grocery stores and major box stores are open, some with a holiday schedule. Liquor stores in Maryland and Virginia are open Monday. In the District, liquor stores are open based on the owner's discretion.

For a more detailed rundown of what county parks, recreation centers and services are open:

D.C. pools

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation says eight pools are open across the city Monday. The pools open in Northwest Washington are the Wilson Aquatic Center, Banneker Pool, East Potomac Pool, Francis Pool and Upshur Pool. In Northeast Washington, the Rosedale Pool is open. And in Southeast Washington the Barry Farm Pool and the Oxon Run Pool are open.

All recreation facilities will open Tuesday at their regularly scheduled times. Almost all outdoor aquatic facilities, children's pools and spray parks will be closed after Labor Day.

Trash and Recycling:

District: No collection Monday, all pick-ups move to the next day throughout the rest of the week. For more information, check the DC Department of Public Works Facebook page.

Maryland: No collection. Trash pick-up moves to the next day in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. Collection moves to the next scheduled day in Prince George's County.

Virginia: Normal pickup in Arlington and Fairfax counties. Collection moves to the next day in Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the City of Fairfax.


Traffic and Parking

District: Most parking enforcement in the District is suspended on Monday.

Maryland: Parking meters won't be enforced in Montgomery County and Prince George's County, except for the New Carrollton garage and National Harbor lots.

Meters will be in enforced in Howard County and Annapolis.

In Maryland, the HOV lane restrictions have not been lifted.

Virginia: Most road work is suspended on Labor Day. In Virginia, the HOV lane restrictions are lifted on I-66, I-95 and I-395. Reversible lanes on I-95 and I-395 are northbound through 11 a.m. Tuesday. Find more information on traveling in Virginia here.

Parking meters won't be enforced in Arlington, Va., on Labor Day.

In Alexandria, parking restrictions are lifted at metered spaces, as well as time restrictions in residential permit parking districts and other areas with signed parking time limits.


Public transportation:

Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight. Trains and buses run on a Sunday schedule and MetroAccess subscription trips are canceled.

Off-peak fares are in place all day.

On the Orange Line, trains will run every 24 minutes. On the Red Line, buses replace the trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Forest Glen stations.

Silver Spring, Takoma and Brookland stations are closed. And Fort Totten is open for Green and Yellow lines only.

ART routes 41 and 51 runs on a Sunday schedule. Other ART routes are not operating.


The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.
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