The Inner Scoop

Bus crashes beg question: How safe are they?

Posted on: Wednesday 4/2/2014 3:51pm

WASHINGTON -- Travel season means tour buses crisscrossing the country. They're already parked on the Mall bringing tourists to see Washington's world-famous cherry blossoms. But after a number of high-profile bus crashes, more and more riders have asked: How safe are they?

There's a quick and easy way to check the safety record of bus companies, says Anne Ferro, administrator with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It's called the Safer Bus app, and it's free.

"It's a quick and easy look-up for the authority of that company that you may be choosing to book," says Ferro.

The app has been around for a couple of years, but Ferro uses the start of the spring and summer travel season to remind riders they should check the records of any bus company they may travel with.

Ferro also announced that Union Station would now be used as a site for on-the-spot bus inspections. The FMCSA and the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department are teaming up to carry out the inspections, which include checking the vehicle and the driver's information.

"We want to be sure the driver is rested and obeying the law," Ferro says.

Ferro encourages potential riders to use the Safer Bus app and says her administration is working hard to ferret out fly-by-night companies.

"We shut down 100 motor coach companies in the last year," she says. "The key for us is to make it more difficult than ever before to operate unsafe equipment."

Here's a link for information on the Safer Bus app.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.

Freezing roadways a danger to Wednesday morning commuters

Posted on: Wednesday 3/26/2014 6:56am

WASHINGTON -- We've all seen the signs: "Bridges freeze before roadway." Well, WTOP traffic reporter Bob Marbourg says that's especially true for Wednesday morning.

Marbourg says Tuesday night's strong winds helped temperatures plummet after a day of snowfall. The result is wet roads and frigid temperatures for Wednesday morning, which may mean dicey roads for morning commuters.

That means the roads are freezing before the winds can dry them off, Marbourg says, and some bridge decks, particularly in Montgomery County and areas to the north and west, are already freezing.

A man died after an ice-related single-vehicle crash in Prince George's County Wednesday morning.

At least six crashes were reported in Montgomery County as of 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, including ones on Viers Mill Road and University Boulevard, and at Georgia Avenue and Laytonsville Road.

Bridges get cold air from above and below, so they freeze before surface roads.

"That's what the signs say," Marbourg says, "and this is why it happens."

Most of the pre-treating of area roads in preparation for the snow was washed away in the course of Tuesday snow and wind, Marbourg says.

"There are crews out on the roads doing some salting [Tuesday night], but not nearly a full-scale mobilization."

His advice?

"Everybody take in a breath, back off on the speed, and consider that the next overpass you find may be slippery."

Some schools are delayed Wednesday morning because of the road conditions. See the full list on WTOP.com.

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Rock 'n' Roll Marathon creates weekend closures in D.C.

Posted on: Friday 3/14/2014 8:16am

WASHINGTON -- It's that time of year again: The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is coming to town.

The cross-city trek, the first of many annual road races in Washington, usually takes drivers by surprise.

The 2014 Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon and the CareFirst Rock 'n' Roll USA Half Marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15. Many streets throughout the D.C. will close for the race course from early morning through early afternoon.

This year's course starts on Constitution Avenue and routes runners along the National Mall, back-and-forth across the Memorial Bridge, on Rock Creek Parkway into Woodley Park, and along streets through Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Capital Hill, the Navy Yard, Anacostia and River Terrace. The Half-Marathon and Marathon end at Lot 7 at RFK Stadium.

The first portion of the race will affect drivers in Northwest Washington. As the last runners pass across the Memorial Bridge and Rock Creek Parkway, police will likely reopen the roads.

The routes near the end of the marathon course between the Frederick Douglass Bridge and RFK Stadium will remain closed the longest.


The map above illustrates the 2014 race course and offers estimated duration of closures and a few alternate routes.

On Saturday, Metrorail opens its doors two hours early, at 5 a.m., to accommodate runners and spectators. Participants traveling by train should use the Federal Triangle, Smithsonian or Archives stations to access the start line.

Metro says the Orange, Blue, Yellow and Green lines will operate on their regular weekend schedules, except for the Greenbelt Station on the Green Line and Franconia-Springfield station on the Blue Line

Trains on the Red Line will run every 16 minutes between Shady Grove and Glenmont. Metro says additional trains will provide service from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. between Farragut North and Silver Spring.

Several Metrobus routes are affected by the race closures. Buses won't proceed beyond most race closures until they're lifted.

In addition to the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, the Four Courts Four Miler Race will block roads in northern Arlington, Va. Arlington County Police report Va. 110 North and portions of Wilson Boulevard will be blocked from mid-morning until 11 a.m.

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High-speed chase involving young adults ends in crash

Posted on: Tuesday 3/11/2014 11:27am

WASHINGTON -- A police pursuit of a minivan filled with young adults ended with a serious crash that closed the Virginia I-95 ramp to Dale Boulevard for several hours Tuesday morning.

Ft. Belvoir police attempted to pull over a 2009 Toyota Sienna minivan for a possible DUI on the Fort Belvoir base at about 2 a.m., but the car with seven passengers in their teens and 20s fled from police, according to Sgt. C.W. Davis with Virginia State Police.

Police say the minivan was speeding at 100 mph on southbound I-95 when the driver attempted to take the exit ramp, but lost control. The minivan skidded off the left side of the ramp, struck a guardrail and overturned onto the left shoulder.

Four of the minivan's passengers were ejected. One passenger was in the middle of the road and another was in the woods, Davis says.

Emergency crews flew all of the seven occupants of the vehicle to nearby hospitals -- Inova Fairfax and MedStar Washington.

A 15-year-old passenger flown to Inova Fairfax is being treated for life- threatening injuries.

The other six are being treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Police closed the ramp following the crash and reopened it to traffic at about 7 a.m.

The female driver is believed to be in her early 20s, the passengers include a 23- year-old man, 21-year-old man, 17-year-old male and three 15-year-old females.

WTOP's Jamie Forzato contributed to this report. Follow @JamieForzato and @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

Southbound I-270 reopens after crash

Posted on: Monday 3/10/2014 8:07am

WASHINGTON -- All lanes of southbound Interstate 270 in Montgomery County have reopened after a crash caused delays for commuters Monday morning.

All lanes on southbound I-270 were blocked after Shady Grove Road, but before Md. 28 because of a crash that happened at about 5:50 a.m. All lanes reopened by 8:30 a.m.

Officials say that at least one person is injured.

Officials have not yet said what caused the crash.

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New flyover ramp connects 11th Street Bridge and SE-SW Freeway

Posted on: Thursday 3/6/2014 2:27pm

11thStRAMP2.png
DDOT says crews will open a high-capacity flyover ramp that connects the 11th Street Bridge to the westbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway early Friday. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON -- After enduring years of painful morning delays along D.C. 295 and Interstate 295, a new connection for inbound drivers is expected to open at the 11th Street Bridge.

The District Department of Transportation says that construction crews will open a high-capacity flyover ramp that will connect the 11th Street Bridge to the westbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway early Friday.

On Thursday night, all access to the inbound main span of the 11th Street Bridge will be blocked to tie the new ramp into the westbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway. All lanes are expected to be open in their final configuration in time for the Friday morning rush hours.

The new ramp is expected to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the recurring rush-hour delays that are the result of a temporary traffic pattern put into place to accommodate work on the $390 million bridge improvement project. The traffic pattern reduced from four to two the number of lanes able to cross over M Street SE, crimping the traffic flow.

Drivers had been using an old, structurally deficient flyover bridge to access to freeway. The old bridge connection will be closed permanently and scheduled for demolition after the new bridge opens to traffic.

Drivers destine for Capitol Hill and downtown areas will be able to use three of the four travel lanes on the 11th Street Bridge to access the Southeast-Southwest Freeway (I-695/I-395).

The new connection will further reduce delays resulting from vehicles weaving from lane to lane by splitting the right-center lane, allowing those drivers to either continue onto the freeway or take the ramp to M Street SE. A fourth lane will bear directly onto M Street SE.

In February, crews set the eastbound freeway into its final alignment by opening a brand new connection to outbound drivers.

Along with the inbound connection, both of these ramps will mark the first time all of the freeways linked by this pair of ramps will be able to travel at their full capacity.

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All lanes of Outer Loop reopen after multiple-vehicle crash

Posted on: Monday 2/24/2014 9:35am

WASHINGTON -- All lanes on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway have reopened in Prince George's County after a crash caused delays for Monday morning commuters.

A multiple-vehicle crash occurred on the Outer Loop at Md. 5/Branch Avenue (Exit 7) in Prince George's County at about 6:25 a.m. All lanes are open as of 10 a.m.

One of the vehicles involved was a propane truck.

Prince George's County Fire Department Public Information Officer Mark Brady says the crash trapped a woman in a vehicle. Emergency crews extricated the woman and transported her to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Officials have not yet said what caused the crash.

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Mulit-vehicle crash closed I-95 in Stafford Co.

Posted on: Thursday 2/20/2014 1:37pm

UPDATE: Thursday - 2/20/2014, 1:58pm ET

WASHINGTON - All northbound lanes on Interstate 95 in Stafford County had reopened to traffic as of 2 p.m.

Drivers should expect residual delays.

The crash and lane closures caused a six-mile backup at one point and also diverted traffic onto U.S. Route 1, according to the WTOP Traffic Center.

The crash occurred after 11 a.m.

EARLIER: Thursday - 2/20/2014, 12:28pm ET

WASHINGTON -- The right lane of northbound I-95 north of Va. 610 in Garrisonville now gets by a crash involving a tractor-trailer and eight vehicles.

Susan Michlik, traffic information coordinator for the Virginia Megaprojects program, says emergency services are on the scene of the crash.

The WTOP Traffic Center recommends drivers find an alternate route.


View Larger Map

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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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