The Inner Scoop

Popular stretch of Metro's Red Line could face closure

Posted on: Monday 8/26/2013 4:55pm

WASHINGTON -- Structural and maintence problems at Metro's Friendship Heights and Medical Center stations could force a weeks-long shutdown of a portion of the Red Line, NBC4 reports.

Metro tells NBC 4 the issue is with water seeping into the two stations as a result of natural, geological conditions.

Currently, metal drip pans fastened to the ceiling of the area near Friendship Heights station serve as a "Band-Aid" for the problem.

One source told NBC 4 the repairs could take up to six weeks, and that both stations could be closed for the duration.

Metro released a statement Friday acknowledging challenges along that portion of the Red Line.

"While this is not a safety issue, Metro engineers are considering comprehensive long-term solutions to improve the reliability of the Red Line for years to come," it read.

"Any decision around the appropriate long-term repairs, including timeline and possible effects on service, will be made only after final engineering designs are submitted in the coming months."

On Monday, Montgomery County councilmember Roger Berliner released a letter he sent to Metro General Manager Richard Sarles expressing his disappointment on learning about the issues in the media and asking Metro to discuss matters with Montgomery County moving forward.

"In my view, this possibility should not have advanced this far along without consultation with our County," Berliner wrote.

"Going forward, I have two requests: (1) that WMATA in fact consult with Montgomery County prior to making any final decision, including a full briefing after the engineering analysis is completed; and (2) that you instruct your engineers to explore all possible options for addressing this issue, with a particular emphasis on those options that would not result in a shut-down of this key segment of the Red Line."

For more information, check out NBC 4.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

Weekend Wakeup: This weekend, just avoid driving downtown

Posted on: Saturday 8/24/2013 9:59am

WASHINGTON -- Expect crowded crosswalks, closed streets, and congestion downtown on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Metro will accommodate expected crowds by keeping track work at a minimum.

In addition to congestion on the inbound roads, there are several major construction projects set to take place this weekend. New York Avenue will be closed in Northeast; Interstate 95 will be closed for overnight work in Virginia; and the Route 29 interchange project in Gainesville will reach a major milestone.

50th Anniversary of March on Washington

The Realize the Dream March, Rally, Global Freedom Festival and the "Let Freedom Ring" commemoration will cause delays and crowded conditions downtown on Saturday.

The National Park Service will block the Memorial Bridge between Memorial Circle and the Lincoln Memorial beginning at 6 a.m. Park police say they will keep access to Arlington Memorial Cemetery open by way of Route 110. Memorial Circle, they say, will be kept open from Washington Boulevard and the George Washington Parkway as long as foot traffic remains manageable.

Driving downtown will be difficult and in some cases impossible. As with any large event on the National Mall, the best way to get there is by taking Metro. Metro trains will be crowded, but WMATA says track work will be kept at minimum, delaying only customers departing Franconia-Springfield. Buying a fare card in advance may save you some time. The best stations for the day's events: Farragut North, Farragut West, Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery for a scenic walk toward the Lincoln Memorial.

The day's events will close streets on the south side of the National Mall between the Potomac River and Maine Avenue to the east of the Tidal Basin. The streets and parking areas near West Potomac Park and the Jefferson Memorial will also be closed.

Constitution Avenue is expected to remain open but will likely be slow as Independence Avenue will be closed for the march itself.

All Potomac River bridges will remain open except for the Arlington Memorial Bridge.

For more on the 50th Anniversary March on Washington click here.

Interstate 95 Express Lanes

Heavy work this weekend will close the southbound lanes on I-95 Friday between Springfield and Newington, Va.

Michelle Holland, spokesperson for VA MegaProjects, says to expect delays late Friday.

"We are continuing to work steadily on the 95 Express Lanes. Tonight we're lifting a large steel girder that's going to support one of the flyover ramps that will be built to take traffic into the Express Lanes from I-95 south."

All southbound lanes will be shut down overnight Friday to safely hoist this material over and across the mainline.

"We will be diverting long distance traffic, or "thru" traffic, into the Express Lanes just south of the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. Drivers are encouraged to get into the HOV lanes earlier to avoid the congestion, to build in extra travel time and to expect delays," Holland says.

Crews plan to close one lane south of the Beltway (near mile marker 169) at 9:30 p.m., a second lane at 11 p.m. and all lanes at midnight. The full closure will be lifted by 6 a.m. and all lanes should be open by 9 a.m. Holland says the HOV lanes will be closed on Saturday and Sunday night, but she says that daytime closures of the facility will not take place.

"We will not have closures on the HOV lanes for the next two weekends due to the heavier end-of-summer travel."

New traffic pattern in Gainesville

VDOT warns that motorists could encounter major delays in Gainesville this weekend. Beginning at 9 p.m. Friday through most of the weekend, only one lane in each direction will be open on Route 29 near Linton Hall Road as crews prepare to shift traffic onto the new, highly anticipated elevated bridge over the railroad tracks.

Motorists can avoid delays of up to an hour through Gainesville by using I-66 and Route 15.

In addition to the traffic switch, crews will be paving and striping various segments of the connection to the new overpass. Police will be on the scene to assist with traffic control.

Consider bypassing the work zone by using Route 15 through Haymarket.

New York Avenue closure

New York Avenue will be closed both ways beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday for continuing bridge work. Crews will also be erecting a large sculpture on the north side of the overpass.

No major track work on Metro

Metro will not perform any significant track work this weekend. Only customers departing the Franconia-Springfield station will face delays with trains running at 24 minute intervals. All Metro stations will remain open throughout the weekend.

Metrorail information direct from Metro:

  • Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at 3 a.m.
  • Trains will operate on a regular Saturday schedule throughout the day.
  • The only scheduled track work will affect Franconia-Springfield Station, where trains will depart every 24 minutes, rather than every 12 minutes. The other 85 Metrorail stations will have normal service with no track work. Riders should consider using stations other than Franconia-Springfield. (Huntington or Van Dorn Street stations are good alternates for Franconia-Springfield.)
  • For the safety and comfort of all Metro passengers, standard-frame bicycles will not be permitted on Metrorail between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

Passenger dies in crash that closes BW Parkway

Posted on: Thursday 8/22/2013 7:59am

traffic cam (trafficland)
The traffic on MD 296 at MD 32 at about 7:10 a.m. (Courtesy of TrafficLand)

WASHINGTON - A passenger died in a one-vehicle crash that closed the Baltimore-Washington Parkway at Route 198 for about two hours Thursday morning.

The crash, which occurred at about 6 a.m., closed the southbound lanes of the parkway. They reopened at about 8 a.m. after officials predicted the lanes would be closed through rush hour.

Officials say the vehicle overturned and caused a female passenger's death.

Emergency crews transported the passenger and the driver to an area hospital, but the passenger died from her injuries. The driver sustained minor injuries, according to officials.

Authorities have not released the names of the passenger who died or the driver. Officials are working to determine what caused the accident.

Traffic was detoured onto 198 as officials investigated the accident.

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Back ups on Md. Rt. 32

Posted on: Wednesday 8/21/2013 9:31am

WASHINGTON - Drivers experienced delays on Md. Rt. 32 through Wednesday morning.

The delays were on westbound Md. Rt. 32 from I-97 to Fort Meade.

There is no specific traffic issue causing the back up, but a military judge said she'll announce at a Fort Meade courtroom on Wednesday the sentence for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who gave reams of classified information to WikiLeaks.

A WTOP listener reported heightened security on the roadway.

To read more about the Manning case, click here.

Below is a map of where the delays occurred:

View Rt 32 to Ft Meade in a larger map

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

All lanes of NB I-95 reopen after tractor trailer crash, fire

Posted on: Tuesday 8/20/2013 10:33am

A tractor-trailer fire blocks I-95 in Baltimore County. (Maryland State)

WASHINGTON - All lanes of northbound Interstate-95 have reopened between I- 195/BWI Airport/Exit 47 and I-695/Exit 49 after a tractor-trailer crash and fire early Tuesday morning.

The accident occurred at about 3 a.m. between I-195 and I-695/Baltimore Beltway and all lanes reopened at about 10 a.m.

Maryland State Police say the blaze started after the tractor trailer hit a disabled tow truck being towed away by a second tow truck. A WTOP listener reported the truck struck a jersey wall as well.

The tractor trailer driver was able to get out before his vehicle was engulfed and no injuries were reported. Maryland traffic officials say the truck was carrying orange juice.

A Maryland Department of Environment hazardous materials crew responded to clean up gas and juice spilled on the highway.

Traffic was diverted onto I-195.

The southbound lanes of I-95 were also blocked so that traffic stopped beyond the I-195 exit can be turned around.

If you're heading to BWI Marshall Airport, give yourself extra time.

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

Follow @WTOPtraffic on Twitter.

Express Lanes to be closed

Posted on: Saturday 8/17/2013 1:47pm

Dave Dildine and Amy Freedman,

WASHINGTON - Travel volume on Interstate 95 through the Washington area is at its height. Weekend motorists can expect major volume delays and long stretches of slow moving traffic during the daylight hours on Interstate 95.

The monster Express Lanes Extension Project between I-395 and Stafford County has worsened summer delays in Virginia on the I-95 corridor, among the busiest thoroughfares on the East Coast.

The I-395/I-95 HOV highway is being converted into a dynamically-tolled expressway. Construction is expected to wind down by early 2015.

Weekend Express Lanes Construction

The Express Lanes will be closed for road work Saturday night. The lanes will open around 8 a.m. Sunday to southbound traffic from the 14th Street Bridge to Va. 236/Duke Street.

A section of the highway will remain closed on I-395 from Duke Street to near mile post 161 on I-95 in Woodbridge. Southbound drivers who wish to access the Express Lanes south should look for a new temporary slip ramp that exits the fast lane of the mainline after the exit for U.S. 1/Woodbridge. This ramp is difficult to spot and it will be the only opportunity to enter the Express Lanes on Saturday until they reverse to serve northbound traffic around 4 p.m.

All lanes on the mainline of I-95 will be open by sunrise, but delays are still likely by late morning since volume is generally on the higher side during the summer months.

The Express Lanes will be open to northbound traffic from Sunday through the Monday morning rush hour.

Metrorail Track Work

Red Line riders will catch a break this weekend as trains are expected to run on time. There will be rail reconstruction on the Orange and Blue lines.

Orange and Blue line trains will run at 24-minute intervals throughout the weekend. Crews will be fixing circuit modules between the Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian stations.

No work is scheduled on the Green or Yellow lines.

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, Perry Parkway and Md. 355

The annual week-long event features carnival rides, live animals and a variety of food and entertainment runs through this Saturday. Anticipate heavy volume on Route 355 through Gaithersburg.

Jimmy Buffet at Jiffy Lube Live

Jimmy Buffet always draws a crowd so if you're planning a westbound ride on I-66 Saturday afternoon or early evening don't be surprised by the extra volume headed toward Bristow, Va. If you're attending the concert and haven't been to Jiffy Lube before just know that getting in and out (especially out) of this venue can be challenging and take longer than you may anticipate.

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Weekend Wakeup: County fairs, 95 work top potential delays

Posted on: Friday 8/9/2013 4:09pm

WASHINGTON - The biggest delays this weekend may come on Interstate 95 and near two local county fairs.

Lines of cars headed to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair will likely back up on state Route 355 in Gaithersburg, and could lead to backups on Interstate 270 as well. The fair runs Friday night through Saturday, Aug. 17 at the county fairgrounds off of Frederick Avenue.

The Prince William County Fair includes a demolition derby, tractor pull and rodeo in addition to other traditional events. The fair opens at noon Saturday and Sunday. It also runs from Friday night through next Saturday. It's held at the county fairgrounds in Manassas about one mile off of the Prince William Parkway.

The Nationals host the Phillies this weekend with games Friday and Saturday nights and a rare 5:05 p.m. start on Sunday.


All Metro stations are open this weekend, but there will be delays due to track work on the Red, Blue and Orange lines.

Red Line trains will single-track along two stretches. Trains will run every 20 minutes all weekend with extra trains running between Dupont Circle and NoMa-Gallaudet from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Switching to the Yellow or Green line at Fort Totten could be a better bet than waiting to get to Gallery Place.

Orange and Blue line trains will run every 20 minutes all weekend.

Work that had been scheduled on the Green Line has been cancelled, so both the Green and Yellow lines will have normal weekend service.

I-95/395 work

Lanes will be closed overnight this weekend at several points on I-95 and I-395 in Northern Virginia as part of widening work.

In addition, the I-395/95 reversible HOV lanes will be closed from just north of Edsall Road to Route 1 Friday and Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. the next morning.

Next Week

Weather permitting, VDOT says three lanes of I-95 north will be closed at night from Monday, Aug. 12 through Saturday, Aug. 17 for bridge work tied to the 95 Express Lanes project.

Lanes will be closed one-by-one beginning at 9 p.m. north of the Pohick Road overpass near the exit for the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. All lanes will be open just past the Springfield interchange.

The I-95/395 reversible HOV lanes from Duke Street to Dumfries Road are scheduled to be closed next week from Monday through Saturday nights. During night time construction hours motorists will be able to access the I-395 HOV lanes north to D.C. at Seminary Road and Shirlington. All HOV lanes will be open to traffic by 5 a.m

Silver Line construction impacts roads

Lanes will be closed overnight on the Dulles Toll Road, Dulles Access Road, Route 7, Route 123 and other streets in the Tysons Corner and Reston areas because of Silver Line work this weekend.

Crews will start repaving Route 7 now that the Metro line's construction is wrapping up. Paving will beginning Monday between the Dulles Toll Road and Route 123. The work is expected to continue into the fall. The initial milling of the road could lead to some rough rides during daytime hours, but the majority of the actual work and lane closures will happen at night.

Other lane closures are expected over the next few weeks on Chain Bridge Road, the Dulles Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road. The lane closures will be overnight and in early morning hours, or in the middle of the day.

Other road work

In D.C., traffic will share a single lane along a short stretch of Oregon Avenue NW Saturday between Beech and Tennyson streets because of maintenance work.

DDOT has just given permission for streetcar construction to continue on Saturdays, so drivers can expect activity along H Street, Benning Road and at the Car Barn Training Center. Noise restrictions for the project have been waived from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, when the heaviest construction is likely to occur. The Saturday construction was authorized to help keep the project on schedule.

A planned closure of Maryland Route 97 north of Westminster this weekend has been postponed.

U.S. 50/301 interchange project

The ramp from northbound U.S. 301 to both eastbound and westbound U.S. 50 in Bowie and the ramp from westbound 50 to southbound 301 will be closed this weekend.

The closure starts at 9 p.m. Friday, and should be lifted no later than 5 a.m. Monday. The State Highway Administration says the paving project means drivers should use the Belair Road exit from 301 and follow the detour to eastbound or westbound 50. Drivers on 50 should make a left onto state Route 197 (Collington Road) and follow the detour to southbound 301.

Southeast/Southwest Freeway

Southeast/Southwest Freeway (interstate 695) lane closures could impact travel to Nationals games.

The left lanes in both directions are closed while crews install new signs. An additional left lane is scheduled to be closed Saturday morning. The right lane heading westbound approaching the Third Street Tunnel is scheduled to be closed until Sunday, with an additional lane closed Sunday morning. On Sunday, a right lane on eastbound 695 is scheduled to be closed from the South Capitol Street Exit to 6th Street SE.

Work begins Sunday night in Bethesda

Major resurfacing work on Wisconsin Avenue (state Route 355) in Bethesda begins Sunday night. The State Highway Administration says up to two lanes may be closed between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and one lane may be closed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The work is scheduled to last through late fall. It focuses on a one-mile stretch of 355 from Montgomery Avenue to Jones Bridge Road, and the stretch from the D.C. line to Bradley Boulevard. The project also includes new traffic signals at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Circle.

The week ahead

In Seat Pleasant, the State Highway Administration has just started a two-year improvement project on the Martin Luther King Jr Highway (state Route704) from the D.C. line to Hill Road. The work will include some midday and overnight lane closures as new crosswalks are added along with other improvements.

In the District, there will be temporary closures of the northbound lane of Beach Drive near Harvard Street NW during the middle of the day from Tuesday, Aug. 13 to Friday Aug. 23.

Starting on Monday, Aug. 12 through Friday, Aug. 16, expect single lane closures on eastbound and westbound Maine Avenue SW between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Also during midday hours, lane closures will resume next week on Rock Creek Parkway from P Street to Beach Drive.

Waterside Drive will be closed in both directions from Massachusetts Avenue to Rock Creek Parkway on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for tree maintenance work

On Monday, Aug. 12, expect single lane closures on eastbound Suitland Parkway between Alabama Avenue and Southern Avenue and between Silver Hill Road and Meadowview Drive between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. for underground utility upgrades. One lane of traffic will remain open during the work period.

The next day, Tuesday, Aug. 13, expect single-lane closures on eastbound Suitland Parkway between Alabama Avenue and Southern Avenue between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Work will also occur westbound between Suitland Road and Meadowview Drive between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for underground utility upgrades. One lane of traffic will remain open in each direction during the work period.

On Monday night, expect detours where I-270 meets Interstate 70 in Frederick. The SHA says a paving project means detours will be posted for traffic accessing southbound I-270 from eastbound I-70, and for traffic accessing eastbound I-70 from northbound U.S. 15/U.S. 340 or northbound state Route 351. Weather permitting, the detours will be in effect from 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Weekend Wakeup: Expect I-95 Express Lanes construction

Posted on: Saturday 7/27/2013 3:25pm

WASHINGTON - The construction of Interstate 95 Express Lanes and Metro rail rebuilding work could alter travel plans over the weekend. The Express Lanes work started Friday, July 26, and will continue through Monday, July 29. Southbound traffic on parts of I-95 will be impacted.

I-95 South:

On Sunday and Monday, there will multiple lane closures and detours near exit 148, Quantico:

  • Single lane closed - Sunday and Monday 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m
  • Two lanes closed - Sunday and Monday between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Full closure of all I-95 southbound lanes, detour in effect, Sunday and Monday between 1 a.m. - 3 a.m.

Detour: I-95 southbound traffic will be detoured to Exit 148, USMC Quantico, (Russell Road) east to Route 1 south to Garrisonville Road, (Route 610) and back to I-95 south.

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes will also be affected by the I-95 road work.

Saturday morning by 10 a.m.:

  • HOV lanes open to southbound traffic from Washington, D.C. to the Turkeycock exit (Edsall Road) where all commuters must exit the HOV lanes and merge onto the I-395/95 south lanes.

  • HOV lanes closed between Turkeycock (Edsall Road) and Exit 161, U.S, Route 1.

  • Southbound 95 drivers may reenter the HOV lanes just south of Route 1 exit via a new dedicated temporary left lane slip ramp, which will be open only on Saturday mornings during construction.

Saturday afternoon by 2 p.m.: HOV lanes closed to reverse the direction of the HOV lanes.

Saturday afternoon by 4 p.m.: HOV lanes open northbound from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

Saturday night by 11 p.m.: HOV lanes closed from Dumfries (Route 234) to Washington, D.C.

Sunday morning by 10 a.m.: HOV lanes open to northbound traffic.

The Washington Nationals play home games at Nationals Park both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and the road work on I-395 coming from Virginia toward Nats Park could pose a traffic problem. Lanes on I-395 Northbound will narrow from three to two between the U.S. Capitol Exit and South Capitol Street.

On Metro:

The agency is continuing its $5.5 billion rebuilding work along each of the system's five service lines this weekend as well.

Four stations along the Orange Line will be closed through Sunday: Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church. Express bus service will replace trains between Vienna and Ballston.

Along the Green line, trains will operate at regular weekend intervals between College Park and Branch Ave stations. During the daytime hours, every other Green Line train will begin and end at College Park, rather than Greenbelt.

  • Blue Line: Regular service (no scheduled work)

  • Yellow Line: Regular service between Huntington and Fort Totten

  • Red Line: Between Shady Grove & Glenmont: Every 16 minutes throughout the weekend.

  • Additional trains between Van Ness and Silver Spring: Service every 10 minutes 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

How to escape a submerged vehicle

Posted on: Tuesday 7/23/2013 2:06pm

WASHINGTON - Survival experts say extreme luck allowed a young woman to escape when her car plunged off the Bay Bridge last week.

In an interview with NBC 4, Morgan Lake says she didn't want to drown and was able to swim out the window and then to the surface of the water last Friday night.

So what would you do if your car was suddenly in the water, sinking? Experts say to stay calm and help any children escape the vehicle first.

If the vehicle is still partially above water, open a window to escape. But if the vehicle is completely submerged, experts say the best option is to wait until the vehicle almost completely fills with water.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the doors and windows won't open until the pressure inside the car matches the pressure outside the car.

AAA also says passengers should move to the rear of the car because the air pocket will be larger there while you wait for the water to rise.

Ken Burton with Stark Survival says drivers should keep a hand planted on the steering wheel and keep their seatbelt on to fight off disorientation in the dim light and murky water.

"Once its filled up, then you're good to go through that window," Burton says. "Wait until the water gets up about your chin. Take several deep breaths and hold it."

Then release the seatbelt, use your arms to pull yourself out of the car. Try not to kick to avoid becoming tangled in seatbelts or other floating objects.

AAA recommends pushing off the car to help speed your route to the surface, as Lake did. In deep water, swim with the current. If you can't swim, try to float.

Other tips from AAA:

  • Remove heavy clothing before attempting to swim to safety.
  • Keep a tool in the car such as a screwdriver to help break a window.
  • Unbuckle children or remove them from their car seats. Free older children first.
  • If side windows are blocked, try to break the front or rear windshield.
  • Most vehicles will float for several minutes before they start to sink.
  • Power windows will continue to work for as long 10 minutes

Fewer than .5 percent of all vehicle crashes involve a car submerged under water. But almost 10 percent of all drowning deaths in the United States can be attributed to being submerged in a car, according to AAA.

Related Stories:

WTOP's Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow @kingWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

Man in toga greets Beltway commuters

Posted on: Tuesday 7/16/2013 3:05pm

A man dressed in a toga or white cloth walks along the Outer Loop of the Beltway Tuesday morning. (Courtesy of Brie Rizzo Hall)

WASHINGTON - Beltway commuters are used to traffic snarls in the morning and they hardly put anyone in a good mood. But Tuesday's backups offered a bit of levity even for a woman who was late to her first day at a new job.

A man dressed in a toga or wrapped in some sort of sheet or cloth, was seen walking along Interstate 495 in Prince George's County. His stroll included a police escort and caused traffic backups about eight miles on the Outer Loop, according to commuter Brie Rizzo Hall.

Hall tells WTOP that when she encountered the man, he was walking in the shoulder and was carrying a large stick. Maryland state troopers were following him.

"The traffic made me late for work on my first day at a new job but it made for a funny story," she says.

State police say they received a report of a man walking on the shoulder near Exit 15 about 8:15 a.m. He was claiming to be Jesus and officers planned to give him a ride off the Beltway. State police did not report any notes about traffic delays related to the man.

However WTOP's Traffic Center heard complaints of rubbernecking delays related to drivers spotting "toga man."

Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

  • 10