Year ahead: A look at the big stories to come in 2017

The West Front of the Capitol is seen as work continues on the stand for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Trump will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 20, 2017 as America's 45th president. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The Inauguration
The inauguration of Donald Trump will be held at the U.S. Capitol at noon on Friday, Jan. 20. The event will include a parade and three official balls and a series of private dinners. The next day, a series of protests are planned along and near the National Mall. Officials planning security for the event anticipate up to 800,000 people could crowd into the nation’s capital for the Inauguration, parade, protests and balls. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Buttons used to register votes are seen on the desk of a member of the House of Delegates before a session in Annapolis, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013. It's been eight years since Maryland executed a convicted killer, and that could be the last time if the General Assembly, as expected, gives final passage on Friday to a bill to abolish capital punishment. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Va., Md. assemblies convene
Virginia and Maryland’s general assemblies convene in January. One critical issue for the D.C. region will be the compact that would create a separate agency to serve as a safety watchdog for Metro. D.C. Council approved the compact in December; Maryland and Virginia lawmakers must pass identical legislation. Other transportation-related issues will be on the agenda for lawmakers in Virginia and Maryland. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants lawmakers to repeal a bill passed last year that requires the state to score transportation projects based on a variety of factors before they could be funded. Changes to the rules of the road and the fees and penalties that drivers pay are among the transportation bills filed by Virginia lawmakers. The general assembly will also grapple with a $1 billion budget gap. In Maryland, another push to limit standardized testing is expected. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
This photo shows Montgomery County police Lt. Chuck Carafano wearing a body camera. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Body cameras come to Prince George’s County
After some delays, the Prince George’s County Police Department plans to roll out a body-worn camera program sometime in the first quarter of 2017. The department will test three styles of cameras and study just how much server space will be needed to store the video they generate. One squad in each of the county’s seven police districts will be equipped with the cameras. Police officials expect to run the study for six months to a year before the county would consider expanding the program to the entire department. Police departments serving Montgomery County and D.C. both expanded the use of body cameras in 2016. (WTOP/Kate Ryan) (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Traffic flow on Interstate 270 between Montrose Road the lane divide in this WTOP file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Improvements to I-270
A contract is expected to be awarded by March to make $100 million worth of improvements along Interstate 270. The state wants to ease congestion near the intersection with the Capital Beltway and solicited ideas to fix the traffic crunch. Some of the proposed solutions included adding express toll lanes on I-270, creating a rapid bus transit system and making other transportation improvements along the corridor. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The man charged with the 1975 murder of Sheila and Katherine Lyon is expected to plead guilty Tuesday,
 in Bedford, Virginia.
 (WTOP File Photo)
Lloyd Lee Welch trial
The man charged with abducting and killing two Montgomery County girls who disappeared four decades ago is set to go on trial in April in Bedford County, Virginia. Lloyd Lee Welch, 60, was indicted in 2015 on two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths and disappearance of Katherine and Sheila Lyon. The girls were last seen at the Wheaton Plaza Mall in March 1975. He could face the death penalty if convicted. (WTOP File Photo) (WTOP File Photo)
Crews make repairs along the Orange Line - part of Metro's ongoing SafeTrack rebuilding project. Tracks are taken out of service for weeks at time to complete overdue maintenance and critical safety fixes. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The end of SafeTrack
Metro’s ongoing rehabilitation work is expected to wrap up this spring. Dubbed “SafeTrack,” the project has closed stretches of track for weeks at a time in order to accelerate overdue maintenance and critical safety fixes. Metrorail ridership has continued its downward spiral since the repairs and earlier weekend closing times began in June. Metro is expected to announce the schedule for the four remaining work zones this month. The transit agency has said previously that the final work zone would last into April, but that could change once the new schedule comes out. The transit system’s budget, funding shortfall and ridership will continue to make headlines. In July, a new, shorter service day begins: The rail system will close at 11:30 p.m. on week nights and at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Sundays trains will run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Ford brothers’ trial
Three brothers charged in connection with an ambush that resulted in the fatal shooting of a Prince George’s County police officer are set to go on trial in May. Michael Ford, 23, was indicted on 55 counts including second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and conspiracy to commit murder. His brothers Malik and Elijah Ford each face 33 counts including attempted murder, first-degree assault and handgun charges. Detective Jacai Colson was shot by another officer during the shootout outside a police station in Landover. (Courtesy Prince George’s County Police Department) (Courtesy Prince George's County Police Department)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during his closing speech to the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 in Ocean City, Md. Hogan is pushing schools to delay their start dates until after Labor Day. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
New school calendar in Maryland
Under an order from Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland schools must start classes after Labor Day and wrap up no later than June 15. Montgomery County Public Schools plans to comply with the order beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. That means students wouldn’t go back to class until Sept. 5, and the calendar change could also affect spring break vacations. (AP Photo/Brian Witte) (AP/(AP Photo/Brian Witte))
The Wharf will feature year-round waterside activities and events. "Even the buildings and the cafes, they all open up within 40 feet of the water," said P.N. Hoffman CEO of Monty Hoffman, a co-developer of The Wharf. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Wharf grand opening
A mile-long stretch of the Southwest Waterfront is undergoing a transformation. When complete, The Wharf will feature housing, retail, office space, entertainment and restaurants. The $2 billion first phase of The Wharf is set to open in October. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Capitol building is bathed in sunlight in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia governor’s race
After a divisive 2016 election, there’s no break for Virginia voters, who will select a new governor this year. So far, three Republicans are in the running for their party’s nomination: Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart, former Republican National Committee Chairman and previous U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, and Frank Wagner, a state senator from Virginia Beach. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is the only Democrat to enter the race. Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat, has said he’ll run for re-election. Virginia law bars the governor from running for a second consecutive term, effectively limiting the state’s top executive to a single, four-year term. The general election will be Nov. 7. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
I-66 driving express lanes
I-66 Express Lanes construction
Construction is set to begin this fall to build four new Express Lanes along Interstate 66 from Gainesville to the Capital Beltway. Once finished in 2022, drivers will need a E-ZPass or an E-ZPass Flex to use the lanes. Vehicles with three or more occupants and an E-ZPass Flex in HOV mode will be able to use the lanes for free; all others will pay a dynamic toll, much like the 495 and 95 Express Lanes. A private consortium of companies — Cintra, Meridam, Ferrovial and Allan Myers — will build and operate the lanes under a 50-year deal. In addition to the lanes, the firms have pledged to spend another $800 million in transit investments plus $350 million to improve mobility through the congested I-66 corridor. Construction has already begun to add toll gantries over I-66 east of the Beltway. Rush hour tolls for solo drivers are expected to start this summer. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Kirk Cousins contract negotiations

With the end of the Washington Redskins’ 2016 season, the biggest question for fans and the team is whether Kirk Cousins will return as leader of the team’s offense. “I think he belongs in the NFL as a starting quarterback, that’s for sure, and hopefully it’s here,” head coach Jay Gruden said Sunday while commenting on Cousins’ performance in the loss against the Giants. Cousins earned nearly $20 million this season under a one-year deal. The Redskins could put the franchise tag on him again, for about $24 million, sign him to a multiyear contract, or let him walk as a free agent. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Gov. Hogan said public transportation will also play a key role, since the state now has a full funding agreement from the federal government for the $2.4 billion Purple Line light rail project which will run between New Carrolton and Bethesda. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Fate of the Purple Line
A lawsuit filed by the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail delayed construction of the Purple Line in 2016, and could delay it still further, or even kill the project. In November, a federal judge found that the Federal Transit Administration should have a chance to decide whether a revised environmental assessment is needed to consider how Metro’s ongoing safety problems and ridership declines would affect Purple Line ridership. A revised assessment would trigger a new round of public hearings and other feedback and would delay the transit project again. The State of Maryland and the Federal Transit Administration, which approved construction of the light rail project in 2014, have said that a new environmental assessment is not needed and that the state of Metro and its ridership would not affect Purple Line ridership, which is estimated to number 50,000 to 70,000 daily trips by 2040. They’ve requested a summary judgment in favor of the state and FTA and that the FTA’s original approval for the project be reinstated. Responses to the motion for summary judgment are due this month. If the project were delayed indefinitely and the contract were terminated, Maryland could be on the hook for as much as $250 million in penalties based on the agreement with the contractor, Purple Line Transit Partners. Construction was expected to have begun in November. The state has invested $400 million so far on the 16-mile line that would connect Montgomery County and Prince George’s County and tie into several Metrorail lines. (WTOP/Mike Murillo) (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
In this photo taken Nov. 3, 2016, signs supporting DC statehood are on display outside an early voting place on in Washington. District of Columbia voters will decide whether they want the nation's capital to become its 51st state. The D.C. Council choices include former Mayor Vincent Gray, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. seeks re-election.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A new D.C. Council, the push for statehood, and family leave
The D.C. Council welcomes back a familiar face this year: Former Mayor Vincent Gray will resume his political career by filling the council seat he used to hold. And at a swearing-in ceremony for the new council members on Monday, the issue of D.C. statehood was mentioned repeatedly. Although District voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum for statehood in November, Congress would have the ultimate say. Mayor Muriel Bowser has already met with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the issue. Also on Bowser’s plate: whether to veto or sign a bill that would create the most generous family leave benefits in the country. The bill would provide eight weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child to workers of private employers in the District, even those who live in Maryland or Virginia. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (AP/Susan Walsh)
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The West Front of the Capitol is seen as work continues on the stand for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. Trump will be sworn in at noon on Jan. 20, 2017 as America's 45th president. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Buttons used to register votes are seen on the desk of a member of the House of Delegates before a session in Annapolis, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013. It's been eight years since Maryland executed a convicted killer, and that could be the last time if the General Assembly, as expected, gives final passage on Friday to a bill to abolish capital punishment. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
This photo shows Montgomery County police Lt. Chuck Carafano wearing a body camera. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
Traffic flow on Interstate 270 between Montrose Road the lane divide in this WTOP file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The man charged with the 1975 murder of Sheila and Katherine Lyon is expected to plead guilty Tuesday,
 in Bedford, Virginia.
 (WTOP File Photo)
Crews make repairs along the Orange Line - part of Metro's ongoing SafeTrack rebuilding project. Tracks are taken out of service for weeks at time to complete overdue maintenance and critical safety fixes. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during his closing speech to the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 in Ocean City, Md. Hogan is pushing schools to delay their start dates until after Labor Day. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
The Wharf will feature year-round waterside activities and events. "Even the buildings and the cafes, they all open up within 40 feet of the water," said P.N. Hoffman CEO of Monty Hoffman, a co-developer of The Wharf. (WTOP/Kristi King)
The Capitol building is bathed in sunlight in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
I-66 driving express lanes
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Gov. Hogan said public transportation will also play a key role, since the state now has a full funding agreement from the federal government for the $2.4 billion Purple Line light rail project which will run between New Carrolton and Bethesda. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
In this photo taken Nov. 3, 2016, signs supporting DC statehood are on display outside an early voting place on in Washington. District of Columbia voters will decide whether they want the nation's capital to become its 51st state. The D.C. Council choices include former Mayor Vincent Gray, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. seeks re-election.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — What will 2017 bring for the D.C. region?

Here’s a look at some of the big stories WTOP will be covering in the new year.


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