Talkin’ Transit: We’re Number Two

Photo courtesy of
‘Typical Beltway traffic’ courtesy of ‘brianmka’

Just like death and taxes, transportation woes never seem to go away around here.

The annual Texas Transportation Institute traffic study released today shows that while traffic is lighter in every other major metro area, it’s only increased our misery here. The DC area continues to rank second to LA in congestion, wasting about 62 hours a year as we crawl along our major routes. That’s an increase of 3 hours over the previous year, by the way.

Sitting in traffic around here has cost us nearly $2.8 billion and 90 million gallons of gas. The data is from 2007, by the way, so next year’s study may (hopefully) show a decline due to increased focus on transit options after soaring gas prices last year.

Photo courtesy of
‘Va Rest Stop’ courtesy of ‘Manicosity’

Closing rest stops: Virginia has chosen to close 18 rest areas around the state, including the ones on I-95 North at Dale City and Ladysmith. The move is to save close to $9 million as the state tries to overcome a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. During a non-traffic period – which is pretty much only between midnight and 4 a.m. – the stretch of I-95 that will go toiletless is 106 miles. (My advice? Be a camel. Because there’s no other advice I can give you without going into the realm of grossness we reserve for Real Worlders.)

Closing after Sept 16 is the one in Manassas on I-66 because it doubles as a welcome center. The closing will be after the bulk of tourist travel is done. Some rest stops will remain open only to truckers and the state will keep a total of 19 open to all drivers.

Texting No-No: A passenger recorded a Blue Line train operator texting from a device held between his legs on June 5; the train was running between King Street and Van Dorn and under automatic control, but the operator’s attention was not on the track ahead of him.

WMATA suspended the operator for a week without pay. Let’s hope the rest of the operators get the message, too. It’s only been two weeks since the deadly accident on the Red Line and everyone is still jumpy. (Or steamed.) Metro resolving this so quickly once it came to light is a good thing, so kudos to WMATA.

Weekend Work: Heads up, weekend commuters. WMATA is not your friend. Four lines are undergoing some sort of work this weekend starting Friday around 10 p.m. and lasting through Sunday evening.

Red Line – If you’re traveling between the Van Ness-UDC and Dupont Circle, add at least 30 minutes of travel time due to replacement of rail fasteners that stabilize tracks and make tunnel repairs. Trains will share one track between these locations. Also, if you’re traveling between the Silver Spring and Forest Glen, add at least 20 minutes of travel time due to tunnel repairs.

Orange Line – If you’re headed between the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and West Falls Church-VT/UVA, add 30 minutes of travel time as Metro will be replacing crossties, the track support structures. Single tracking in both directions.

Blue and Yellow Lines – And if you’re traveling between the Van Dorn Street (Blue Line), Huntington (Yellow Line) and Braddock Road, add at least 30 minutes as Metro will be tamping the rail tracks to ensure durability. Trains will share one track between these locations from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12.

Photo courtesy of
‘Next bus technology’ courtesy of ‘ethorson’

Next Bus: The program started on July 1 and so far, there’s been little complaints about it. (Well, except where stop information was completely wrong.) No need to recap much here; DCist has a good rundown of the system and how to work it. Keep in mind that the Circulator is also part of the system now. And if you have any experiences with it – good or bad – let the folks over at Moving Momentarily know.

HOT Lanes: In case you’ve been following the HOT lane project, VDOT has a nice summary page of the continuing projects for the rest of the summer and into fall of this year. Currently, I’ve been watching the sound baffle walls go up along stretches between the Mixing Bowl and Gallows Road. The most shocking thing so far is the complete denuding of the I-66 interchange; it’s like a longtime friend just shaved his head for no reason.

Light Tourist Moment: And finally, thanks to our fellow bloggers over at Moving Momentarily, I give you a great “tourist moment” with some helpful advice. Gotta love visitors…

Got interesting Transit news? Drop me a line at bhrome AT welovedc DOT com.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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5 thoughts on “Talkin’ Transit: We’re Number Two

  1. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought the “shaving” of the I-66 interchange was weird. I drive that stretch regularly and wonder how much they’re going to lose to rain-based erosion come the stormy season…

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