The Inner Scoop

Weekend Wakeup: Express Lane closures and downtown D.C. events might cause congestion

Posted on: Friday 9/13/2013 3:08pm

WASHINGTON -- As the summer travel season begins to wind down, construction of the new I-95/395 Express Lanes is heating up. Full closures of the Express Lanes are set to begin this weekend. But unlike in weekends past, the lanes will remain closed all day Saturday and through most of Sunday.

Weekend drivers on I-95 should brace for delays during the daytime hours.

On Friday night, the Virginia Department of Transportation will close the reversible HOV lanes on I-95/395 from south of Route 236 to Dumfries. They will remain closed on Saturday. The lanes are expected to reopen to northbound traffic by 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Similar closures will take place every weekend this month. In October, as highway volume further wanes, the Express Lanes will be closed all weekend through to the Monday morning rush hour. Crews will use the extra work space to complete tasks like milling and paving the new road surface as well as overhead sign, drainage, and barrier installation.

In an effort to alleviate some congestion on the mainline, VDOT and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation will begin offering a Saturday bus service between the Potomac Mills Mall and the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station. The Saturday bus service will be free for a three-month period. Buses will also make stops at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Transit Center in Dale City, offering additional transfer opportunities. Here's the schedule.

Navy-Air Force Half Marathon

Expect street closures in Northwest Washington around 5 a.m. Saturday for the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. The runners will hit the pavement shortly after 7 a.m. The Navy-Air force Half Marathon and Navy 5 Miler is hosted by Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

The entire length of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway will be closed to traffic. Beach Drive will remain open but traffic south of the National Zoo will be diverted into Woodley Park.

Arlington Memorial Bridge, Memorial Circle, and Lincoln Circle will be closed to traffic for much of the morning. Arlington National Cemetery will be accessible from Route 110 and the southbound George Washington Parkway.

The race course includes Ohio Drive, Independence Avenue, Maine Avenue, and 15th Street NW near the Tidal Basin and Potomac Park.

Most streets will be open by 11 a.m. except in the area around the awards ceremony on the National Mall.

Metro will open its doors early at 6 a.m. for participants and spectators. The closest Metro stop to the start of the race is Smithsonian Station.

9-11 Heroes 5K Race Street Closures

There will be several street closures on Saturday morning in Crystal City for the 9-11 Heroes 5K Race. The run starts at 8:30 a.m.

A portion of South Glebe Road northbound will be closed between 8:15 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. Other streets affected include 23rd Street, South Eads Street, South Fern Street, and Arlington Ridge Road. Parking near the race course will be restricted.

Weekend Fairs and Festivals

Doug Hill in the WTOP Weather Center predicts picture-perfect weather for fairgoers this weekend. The Maryland Renaissance Festival and the Anne Arundel County Fair in Crownsville, the Charles County Fair in La Plata, and the Great Frederick Fair in Frederick will draw crowds. Expect some congestion on the routes near the county fairgrounds.

Frederick's 31st annual In The Street Celebration is this Saturday. Market Street, All Saints Street, Church Street and more will be closed. Patrick Street and 7th Street should remain open to traffic.

Follow police direction and expect some delay if you plan to travel through downtown Frederick. Pets or animals of any kind are not allowed at the event. Due to expected large crowds, bicycles will be prohibited inside the event area.

In Arlington Heights, the street fair known as Prio Bangla Potho Mela will block South 9th Street from Walter Reed Drive to South Highland Street on Saturday. Street parking in the area will be restricted. Expect localized congestion and plenty of foot traffic.

D.C. Roadwork

Repairs to the old Arizona Avenue Railroad Bridge over Canal Road will be conducted this weekend. Crews will block a lane of Canal Road between Arizona Avenue and Chain Bridge between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Work on the New York Avenue Bridge over the rail yard north of Union Station continues this weekend. A single lane will be blocked on the inbound side of New York Avenue between Penn Street and Florida Avenue Friday night until 12 p.m. on Saturday. For more on the new sculptures above New York Avenue, read this story.

Metrorail Track Work

Track Work will result in service delays on the Red, Orange, and Green lines this weekend but all stations will remain open. A portion of the Blue and Yellow lines will be closed. Those with plans to take Metro to National Airport should plan ahead for delays. The Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations will both be closed from 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, reopening Monday morning.

Buses will be replacing Blue and Yellow line trains between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Riders detouring around the work zone on buses may experience delays of up to 20 minutes. Trains will run at normal intervals outside the work zone.

Red Line trains are expected to run on-time between Shady Grove and Medical Center. Brief delays are possible for riders between Grosvenor and Shady Grove.

Track work on the eastern side of the Orange Line will cause Orange Line trains to operate every 20 minutes throughout the weekend.

Green Line trains will operate every 16 minutes throughout the weekend.

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Capital Bikeshare coming to Montgomery County at end of September

Posted on: Thursday 9/12/2013 10:51am

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This Capital Bikeshare station on Cordell Street is one of two along Norfolk Street in the Woodmont Triangle section of Bethesda, Md. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

BETHESDA, Md. - As Capital Bikeshare stations are popping up in Bethesda, Silver Spring and Takoma Park, an event to formally launch the program is set for the end of September.

"To see that it's going to be close to my house is great. This would actually cut down my commute because it takes me 20 minutes to walk from my house to Metro and this would cut it down by at least 10 minutes. So I'm super excited to see Bikeshare in Bethesda," says Stephanie Kara-Jordan, who works near the Metro Center station.

"I've been actually following Bikeshare online, so I knew it was coming soon. But when I saw the station here, I said to myself 'Oh it's really close. That's great!' I'm very happy it's at a location I can walk to and hop on a bike," she says after taking pictures of a station outside the Elm Street garage.

Other Bethesda stations are already installed at Norfolk Street at Fairmont Avenue and Cordell Avenue.

In total, 51 Capital Bikeshare stations will be installed in Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center with a combined 500 bicycles.

Montgomery County transportation officials concede that not all 51 stations will necessarily be open after the initial launch, but all should be available soon after.

Dan Reed of Silver Spring, who's a transit advocate, says he is very excited about the program launch as well.

"Since all of the stations in Silver Spring, Bethesda and Takoma Park are in the downtown area, I might use them to run errands like if I had something to do on one side of downtown and wanted to go to the other side of downtown, or if I want to go from Silver Spring to Bethesda or Takoma Park I might do that instead of driving there," he says.

Reed said he'd be interested in bicycling from Silver Spring to Friendship Heights, eventually connecting up with the Capital Bikeshare system in the District of Columbia. Other bicyclists at the Action Committee for Transit of Montgomery County agreed that such a trip would interest them.

"I've got my fingers crossed that it will be very favorably received. Other communities have had very favorable responses and I think our community will as well," says Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, D-District 1.

"We really do want to become a very bikeable community and I think we're on the path towards that result," he says.

Scott Brownell noticed the new stations during a roundtrip on his bicycle from Alexandria to Bethesda and back.

"It's nice that they're expanding it. Bikeshare used to be just in D.C. and they've taken it near my home in Alexandria. I think it's also a good idea that they're bringing it here because now you can get to more places with it," he says.

While Montgomery County officials will not give a specific launch date, WTOP has learned it will be after County Executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett and members of the County Council return from a 10-day trip to China beginning next week.

Leggett returns on Sept. 24, which means the formal event will take place on a weekday between then and Sept. 30. Regardless of the specific date, it means bicyclists will only have to wait another two weeks.

"I feel as we kick start the effort towards a more bikeable community we will evolve organically. When you start putting more bikes on the road, then you will see what you have to do and where you have to do it to make the experience safe for riders," says Berliner.

Montgomery County transportation officials are working on how to enhance safety for the new riders, including bike lanes in certain locations and shared lane markings, also known as sharrows, to remind motorists that they have to share the road.

"I'm super excited. I have a bike, but I prefer the convenience of walking down the street and on a whim get on a bike. I have my [key] fob on me at all times, so to be able to grab a bike is awesome," says Kara-Jordan.

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Fairfax County develops plans to target speeders

Posted on: Thursday 9/12/2013 4:20am

WASHINGTON - Cars speeding through Fairfax County's residential areas is a top complaint in many neighborhoods and now county officials are stepping up to address the problem.

The county plans to spend $350,000 to try to get motorists to slow down. But Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova says the plans will not include speed cameras.

"We don't have speed cameras, but we do have devices that clock your speed and let you know how fast you are going," she says.

Bulova says the county will also increase the number of both stop signs and speed bumps in an effort to educate the public.

"Britain has a word for speed humps, they call them 'sleeping policemen,'" she says.

The county will also step up a public safety campaign aimed at speeding in residential neighborhoods.

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, who requested the money, says this is just the beginning of the campaign. Cook wants to increase traffic enforcement and give police access to new technology to help curb speeding in the future.

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9/11 motorcycle ride denied permits for non-stop trek in D.C.

Posted on: Wednesday 9/11/2013 10:06am

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Bikers prepare to ride into D.C. to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Dick Uliano and Amanda Iacone, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Thousands of motorcyclists are expected to ride in the D.C. area Wednesday as part of a trek to honor those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But the blogosphere has been abuzz with outraged talk that D.C. denied the riders a permit. The WTOP Answer Desk set out to learn what happened.

The group called 2 Million Bikers to D.C. requested police escorts and no-stop permits. They wanted to be able to go without stopping through red lights and intersections on D.C. streets, near the monuments and on Capitol Hill.

But the bikers have been denied those permits by both the National Park Service and the Metropolitan Police Department.

The ride would have been hugely disruptive to traffic on a regular workday, says National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson.

Granting the organizers a permit would have meant road closures in the middle of the day, including on Memorial Bridge and Constitution Avenue. Past motorcycle rallies have been held on weekends, Johnson says.

In a statement released to WTOP, D.C. police say that ride organizers were encouraged to move their event to a weekend. MPD also says that the city's denial will not prevent the group's members from riding on city streets -- they just won't have a police escort.

U.S. Capitol Police also denied a similar request, according to both D.C police and the park service.

"Solely to facilitate the speed and timeliness of the participants in itself does not fall within the definition of a First Amendment assembly," D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump says in an email statement. "The activity was viewed as expressive."

Despite the lack of permits, bikers from across the country are still expected to be in the area Wednesday. Their numbers are expected to be 2,000 or more and their ride will begin at 11 a.m. from the Fort Washington Harley Davidson dealership in Prince George's County, Md.

Eric Zern, a ride organizer from Hagerstown, Md., tells WTOP bikers plan to ride one time on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway from Prince George's County to Montgomery County and then into Virginia, before arriving back where they started.

They reportedly will not go into D.C. as a large group.

"There are so many motorcycles that trying to go through Washington, D.C., would not have worked," Zern says.

It will be up to individual riders whether they choose to enter the city after the Beltway ride.

"That way we're going to have much smaller groups of motorcycles coming through the city and they won't lock things down so bad," Zern says.

Nicholas Montefusco from Huntersville, Pa., is among the bikers participating in the ride. He says Americans should never forget the significance of Sept. 11.

"It's very important and it's from all ethnical backgrounds, all religions -- it's just, we're all Americans and we need to support our country the best we can," Montefusco says.

The bikers' permit rejection brought an invitation from several other groups planning a "Justice for Benghazi" rally on the West Capitol Lawn.

Patriots4America and Special Operations Speaks have already obtained permits to hold their rally behind the U.S. Capitol, the groups said in a news release inviting the bikers to join them.

It was unclear if the bikers will accept the invitation.

According to the National Park Service, several other groups are scheduled to use space on and near the National Mall Wednesday.

The American Muslim Political Action Committee is holding a "Million American March Against Fear" Wednesday on the Mall. And the Answer Coalition will hold a rally on Freedom Plaza, according to the National Park Service.

Permit Denial Letter from the National Park Service

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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.

Related Stories:

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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.
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