The Inner Scoop

Study: Higher toll prices attract drivers to HOT Lanes

Posted on: Tuesday 9/3/2013 4:21am

beltway_traffic
A study found a higher toll price actually leads to more drivers using the HOT Lanes. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - It's the question that drivers on the Virginia side of the Beltway face every day: are the Express Lanes worth it?

A study of similar lanes in Minnesota finds that a higher toll price actually leads to more drivers using the lanes.

"This positive relationship between price and demand is in contrast with the previously held belief that raising the price would discourage demand," the study says.

The researchers say they think drivers may not realize that the prices fluctuate based on how many cars are in the Express Lanes without regard for the congestion in the free, general purpose lanes.

The University of Minnesota study finds that drivers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area consistently paid between approximately $60-120 per hour of travel time savings, much higher than the average value of time.

High occupancy toll lanes (HOT Lanes) operate on the idea that higher prices will discourage drivers from using the lanes. The idea is that by raising tolls until fewer drivers enter the lanes, the operators can guarantee a speedy commute.

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

What's open and closed on Labor Day

Posted on: Monday 9/2/2013 7:00pm

WASHINGTON - To help you plan for your Labor Day, WTOP has a list of what's open and closed in your area Monday, Sept. 2.

Closed:

  • Federal and local government offices
  • Schools
  • Post offices
  • Libraries

Open: According to The Washington Post, most grocery stores and major box stores are open, some with a holiday schedule. Liquor stores in Maryland and Virginia are open Monday. In the District, liquor stores are open based on the owner's discretion.

For a more detailed rundown of what county parks, recreation centers and services are open:

D.C. pools

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation says eight pools are open across the city Monday. The pools open in Northwest Washington are the Wilson Aquatic Center, Banneker Pool, East Potomac Pool, Francis Pool and Upshur Pool. In Northeast Washington, the Rosedale Pool is open. And in Southeast Washington the Barry Farm Pool and the Oxon Run Pool are open.

All recreation facilities will open Tuesday at their regularly scheduled times. Almost all outdoor aquatic facilities, children's pools and spray parks will be closed after Labor Day.

Trash and Recycling:

District: No collection Monday, all pick-ups move to the next day throughout the rest of the week. For more information, check the DC Department of Public Works Facebook page.

Maryland: No collection. Trash pick-up moves to the next day in Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. Collection moves to the next scheduled day in Prince George's County.

Virginia: Normal pickup in Arlington and Fairfax counties. Collection moves to the next day in Arlington, the City of Alexandria and the City of Fairfax.


Traffic and Parking

District: Most parking enforcement in the District is suspended on Monday.

Maryland: Parking meters won't be enforced in Montgomery County and Prince George's County, except for the New Carrollton garage and National Harbor lots.

Meters will be in enforced in Howard County and Annapolis.

In Maryland, the HOV lane restrictions have not been lifted.

Virginia: Most road work is suspended on Labor Day. In Virginia, the HOV lane restrictions are lifted on I-66, I-95 and I-395. Reversible lanes on I-95 and I-395 are northbound through 11 a.m. Tuesday. Find more information on traveling in Virginia here.

Parking meters won't be enforced in Arlington, Va., on Labor Day.

In Alexandria, parking restrictions are lifted at metered spaces, as well as time restrictions in residential permit parking districts and other areas with signed parking time limits.


Public transportation:

Metrorail will open at 7 a.m. and close at midnight. Trains and buses run on a Sunday schedule and MetroAccess subscription trips are canceled.

Off-peak fares are in place all day.

On the Orange Line, trains will run every 24 minutes. On the Red Line, buses replace the trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Forest Glen stations.

Silver Spring, Takoma and Brookland stations are closed. And Fort Totten is open for Green and Yellow lines only.

ART routes 41 and 51 runs on a Sunday schedule. Other ART routes are not operating.


The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Alexandria streets reopen after water main break

Posted on: Monday 9/2/2013 11:24am

Water Main break (WTOP Traffic)
The water main break closed South Van Dorn Street just to the north of Eisenhower Avenue. (WTOP/J. Hoeflinger)

WASHINGTON - Some Alexandria, Va., streets have reopened to traffic after a significant water main break caused closures for several hours Monday morning.

The water main break closed South Van Dorn Street just to the north of Eisenhower Avenue until 11:30 a.m. Police were on the scene blocking South Van Dorn Street to just south of Edsall Road.

Also, South Pickett was impassable at the intersection with South Van Dorn Street.

Below is a map of the location of the water main break:


View Larger Map

Alexandria officials are advising motorists to avoid the area.

Follow @WTOPTraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Weekend Wakeup Labor Day edition

Posted on: Friday 8/30/2013 3:42pm

WASHINGTON - The unofficial end of summer will bring a surge of getaway traffic to Washington area highways this Labor Day weekend as millions of Americans head for vacation destinations up and down the East Coast.

The American Automobile Association expects 34 million people to hit the highways and travel at least 50 miles between Friday and Monday. Summer heat is predicted so make sure your vehicle is up to the task. Check your fluids and tire pressure before venturing out.

Expect major volume delays on through-routes this weekend, especially Interstate 95 in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Transportation will keep the express lanes open all weekend long. Construction activities will be put on hold. The express lanes will operate southbound until midday Saturday and then reverse to aid northbound travelers from Saturday afternoon through Monday.

Delays are also likely to form on I-95 between the Laurel and Columbia exits in Maryland. Delays are possible near the Inner Harbor/Downtown Baltimore exits due to the Grand Prix. Significant travel volume is likely north of Baltimore through Harford and Cecil counties.

Traffic on Interstate 70 east and Interstate -270 south between Hancock and Frederick, Md., will likely slow in stretches beginning late Sunday afternoon as vacationers from mountain areas return home.

The Maryland Transportation Authority expects more than 333,000 vehicles to travel U.S. Route 50/301 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge this Labor Day weekend. This represents about a 1 percent increase compared with last year's traffic. On Saturday, delays toward the toll plaza should gradually ease by early afternoon. On Monday, westbound traffic will likely be heaviest between Route 404 and Annapolis from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The primary routes won't be the only place where you may encounter congestion. The region's parks will be busy this weekend. Expect long waits on roads such as Georgetown Pike near Great Falls Park and Route 178 in Crownsville for the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Traffic in the city should remain light after the Friday getaway and throughout most of the weekend. The Nationals take on the New York Mets at Nationals Park Saturday and Sunday evening. Brief delays are possible before first pitch on the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and South Capitol Street.

Weekend Work Zones

Nearly all major roadwork has been suspended throughout the region for the holiday weekend.

The District Department of Transportation announced that all construction crews are to keep non-emergency work off the road and behind barricades until noon on Tuesday, September 3rd.

VDOT is allowing for a few lanes closures on the Dulles Toll Road for Silver Line rail work but will otherwise keep all construction activities out of the travel lanes, including the I-95 Express Lanes Extension Project.

Maryland State Highway Administration says it will suspend non-emergency roadwork until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Delays on Metrorail

Track work wears on as crews take advantage of the holiday weekend to continue their rebuilding efforts. A portion of the Red Line will be closed between Northeast Washington and Forest Glen. The wait to catch an Orange Line train will be a little longer due to maintenance. This work will take place between 10 p.m. Friday through late Monday.

On the Red Line, buses replace trains between Forest Glen and Rhode Island Avenue. Red Line service will not be available at the Silver Spring, Takoma, and Brookland stations. Two types of free bus service will be available. Limited-stop buses will make a single stop at Silver Spring with delays up to 25 minutes possible. Local buses will stop at all closed stations. Before boarding a bus, flag down a WMATA employee and ask which is the best option for you.

Orange Line trains will run every 24 minutes due to maintenance near a few of the stations in Prince Georges County.

Free shuttle buses will replace Green Line trains between Greenbelt and College Park on Saturday and Sunday for track testing.

Blue and Yellow line trains should run on a normal weekend schedule.

Labor Day Traffic/Transit Changes

The District does not require that meter fees be paid on Labor Day. Most parking regulations - including residential parking restrictions - will be suspended until Tuesday, September 3.

The reversible routes, namely Rock Creek Parkway and Canal Road, will operate two-way throughout the day.

HOV restrictions are lifted in Northern Virginia on I-95, I-395, I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road.

There will be no MARC or VRE service.

Related Stories:

Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

More travelers expected to hit the road this Labor Day weekend

Posted on: Wednesday 8/28/2013 4:09am

011812_395_traffic_dildine_512.jpg
AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts 811,500 people in the Washington metro area will travel more than 50 miles over the holiday weekend. (WTOP/David Dildine)

WASHINGTON - Area roads are likely to be busy over the long Labor Day weekend as local residents head out of town.

AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts 811,500 people in the Washington metro area will travel more than 50 miles over the holiday weekend.

The number of travelers would be a 2.6 percent increase over last Labor Day weekend and the biggest number of Labor Day travelers since the start of the recession four years ago.

For most, this will be a road trip. AAA says nine out of 10 vacationers will travel by car. And they will find that gas prices here and around the nation are lower than this time last year.

Pent up demand could be driving the jump in Labor Day weekend travel. The number of area residents who traveled during the first two major holidays of the summer, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, actually declined.

But AAA says the anticipated increased in Labor Day travel is more a result of economic factors, and is related to increased consumer spending and the improving housing market.

Follow @WTOPtraffic and @WTOP on Twitter.

Expect major delays during Wednesday commute

Posted on: Tuesday 8/27/2013 4:03pm

roadclosures_640.jpg
Plan your Wednesday commute ahead of the anniversary events. The roads in red will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians starting Wednesday morning. Click on the image to see a larger version. (Courtesy National Park Service)

WASHINGTON - Commuting in and out of Washington Wednesday may be tricky, as thousands are expected to participate in a commemoration marking the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

Events begin at 9 a.m and end at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial.

The National Park Service will close the following sites beginning at 4 a.m. Wednesday and lasting until 4 p.m.:

  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • World War II Memorial
  • DC War Memorial

Those without tickets for the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action Ceremony will be able to access the commemoration only by walking west into the area of the Reflecting Pool via the Elm walkway north of the World War II Memorial off 17th Street.

The following road closures will go into effect Wednesday at 3:15 a.m.:

  • Arlington Memorial Circle will remain open, but Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed.
  • F Street traffic will be allowed to access the northbound lanes of the Rock Creek Parkway to eastbound Virginia Avenue.
  • Rock Creek Parkway from Virginia Avenue to Parkway Drive - It is recommended that drivers utilize Connecticut Avenue or 16th Street as an alternate route.
  • Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Memorial Circle
  • Independence Avenue from 15th Street to 23rd Street
  • Ohio Drive from Inlet bridge to Parkway Drive, including the A, B and C parking lots
  • Theodore Roosevelt Bridge will remain open; however, users of the Ohio Drive exit will be forced to U-turn north onto the Potomac Freeway.
  • Maine Avenue from 15th Street to Independence Avenue, including Tidal Basin parking lot
  • North and southbound lanes of 17th Street between Independence Avenue and Constitution Avenue
  • Daniel French Drive
  • 23rd Street from Independence Ave to Constitution Ave
  • Henry Bacon Drive

Road closures will include pedestrian closures. Commercial cars will not be permitted on Constitution Avenue between 1 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

The following streets will close starting at 3 a.m. and should reopen by 6:30 p.m.:

  • Westbound ramp from I-395 to Maine Avenue SW - All traffic will be diverted to the 12th Street Tunnel.
  • Ramp from 9th Street tunnel to westbound Maine Avenue SW - All traffic will be diverted to outbound I-395.
  • 200 block Maiden Lane merge with Maine Avenue SW - All traffic will be diverted to northbound 14th Street SW.
  • Southbound Potomac River Freeway and ramp to Independence Avenue - Traffic will be diverted to the outbound Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
  • Ramp from eastbound Teddy Roosevelt Bridge to Independence Avenue NW

The March for Jobs and Justice begins at 9 a.m. with a crowd gathering beforehand in the 600 block of New Jersey Avenue NW near the Georgetown University law school.

Commuters should expect a lot of foot traffic and delays as marchers make their way down to the National Mall, rallying in front of the the departments of Labor and Justice before making their way to the Lincoln Memorial.

President Barack Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are expected to speak, so commuters should expect increased security around the Lincoln Memorial circle. The event runs until 4 p.m.

The Office of Personnel Management is asking federal agencies to allow employees to telework to ease congestion.

Parking restrictions

"No parking" restriction signs have been posted on Constitution Avenue from 17th Street to 23rd Street on the north and south side of the street.

Morning traffic pattern

A modified traffic change will be in effect for the a.m. rush hour. All traffic changes on Rock Creek Parkway from Shoreham Hill to Virginia Avenue will be made in accordance with the Guideline Manual for traffic changes in the Washington Metropolitan area. All traffic from southbound Rock Creek Parkway will be forced to eastbound Virginia Avenue.

Evening traffic pattern

The p.m. traffic change will be made at the conclusion of the event.

Prohibited items

As a security precaution, all items listed below will not be allowed onto National Park Service property in conjunction with this event. The Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other items that are determined to be a potential public safety hazard:

  • Aerosols
  • Ammunition
  • Animals other than helper/guide dogs
  • Backpacks
  • Bags and signs exceeding size restrictions (8"x6"x4")
  • Bicycles
  • Balloons
  • Coolers
  • Explosives
  • Firearms
  • Glass or thermal containers
  • Laser pointers
  • Mace/Pepper spray
  • Packages
  • Structures
  • Supports for signs and placards
  • Weapons of any kind

Getting there

Visitors are strongly advised to use public transportation. Metro stations near the National Mall and Memorial Parks, U.S. Capitol and President's Park that will remain open throughout the day include Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Farragut North, Farragut West, Capitol South, L'Enfant Plaza, Union Station, Federal Center SW and Archives- Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter, Arlington National Cemetery and Pentagon.

For the assembly location at 600 New Jersey Ave. NW, take the Metro to Union Station or Judiciary Square. For the National Mall, take the Metro to Foggy Bottom, Farragut West, Farragut North or the Archives.

Arlington Cemetery is not a recommended station, because Memorial Bridge will be closed to pedestrian traffic by Park Police. The Smithsonian station is not a recommended station due to the potential for crowding.

To download the official Metro rider guide for the event, click here.

Metro riders please note:

If you choose to participate in the bell-ringing ceremony, you should not plan to use the Arlington metro stop. The closest stop will be the Foggy Bottom stop.

Visitor services

  • Food, water and refreshments will be available for purchase at concession stands in the area.
  • Portable restrooms, including ADA accessible restrooms, will be available.

Visitor safety

Visitors should prepare for heat and sun. NPS recommends that visitors:

  • Bring enough food and water for the entire day (water-bottle filling stations will be available).
  • Drink plenty of water even when not thirsty.
  • Wear weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Minimize consumption of beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat throughout the day.
  • Take frequent shade breaks.
  • Periodically get out of the heat and into air conditioning, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Reduce exertion during the hottest hours.
  • Bring extra medication.

First-aid stations

  • First-aid stations will be located on both sides of the Reflecting Pool.
  • Cooling tents will be located on the north side of the Reflecting Pool.

Family reunification

The USPP family reunification tent will be located on the south side of the Reflecting Pool between the D.C. War Memorial and the World War II Memorial. Lost persons should be reported to any uniformed USPP officer or NPS ranger. Lost persons will be taken to the USPP family reunification tent.

WTOP's Megan Cloherty and Alicia Lozano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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.

  •  
  • 9
  •