WASHINGTON — The start of Metro’s major round-the-clock track work this weekend is prompting warnings about the potential for significant traffic jams across the region.
“The project will affect every single commuter. And no matter if the surge is happening in the District proper or not, we think that Washington, D.C., will be affected by all 10 months of the work,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters.
The first phase of work beginning Saturday will reduce train service for riders along the Orange and Silver lines and some portions of the Blue Line. And the Virginia Department of Transportation warns that roads like Interstate 66, the Capital Beltway, Braddock Road, Leesburg Pike (Route 7), Lee Highway (Route 29), Columbia Pike, Georgetown Pike, Chain Bridge Road and Gallows Road could see heavier traffic.
A number of Metrobus routes in Northern Virginia will have extra service, and Fairfax Connector has added temporary shuttles from several spots at or near end-of-the-line Metro stations to the Pentagon. Commuters could also consider VRE, commuter buses or carpooling.
Bowser urges anyone coming into the District to avoid driving alone.
“We are preparing to have more cars on already congested roads,” she said.
“East, west, north, south, rush hour, non-rush hour, early and late, you know that there are already a lot of cars on the road and we already experience a lot of congestion at certain times,” she said.
Capital BikeShare has added a new option beginning Saturday for infrequent users to pay $2 for a single trip. Riders who become regular BikeShare users will still benefit from longer-term memberships. The system is also adding about 250 bikes to the fleet and will try to accelerate the installation of new stations and docks.
District Department of Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo said that when Metro completely shut down for a day in March, the number of people biking across the region matched levels typically seen on the annual bike-to-work day.
At least Monday and Tuesday, the first two days with planned service reductions during the rush hour, BikeShare will have corrals set up to allow commuters to drop off bikes at the Ballston and East Falls Church Metro stations. A separate corral will be set up at Farragut Square in addition to the regular corrals at Foggy Bottom and 13th Street NW and New York Avenue near McPherson Square.
To address the end of late-night trains on weekends, Bowser said D.C. is looking into extending DC Circulator hours on weekends. But no decision has been made yet.
D.C. is also extending rush-hour parking restrictions along key bus corridors.
The track work begins with trains using a single track for 13 days on the Orange and Silver lines in Northern Virginia. Riders should expect fewer trains and longer waits between Wiehle-Reston East and Largo Town Center and between Vienna and Stadium-Armory.
The next work zone also impacts Blue, Orange and Silver line stations. A complete shutdown of the tracks is scheduled from June 18 to July 3 between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road/Minnesota Avenue and between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery.
“We anticipate that the second surge alone will affect more than 230,000 riders,” Bowser said.
That estimate includes riders that usually use stations where train service is eliminated or reduced.
“We really want to encourage people to think about their commutes,” Bowser said.
“Sometimes people put off thinking about things that seem far out or seem like they don’t affect them. So we’re asking them to pay attention, because it is going to impact every aspect of commutes in the region,” she added.
Metro will offer shuttle bus service to and from Eastern Market during the second work zone. But there will be no Metro service between Rosslyn and Pentagon.
The round-the-clock workzones are in addition to regular track work on weekends, in the middle of the day and beginning as early as 8 p.m. on weeknights.
Metro Chief Operating Officer Jack Requa urged Metro riders to find other options.
“We can help get people there, it just can’t handle everyone,” he said.
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