Blossoms Go, but Longer Trains Will Stay
Dear Dr. Gridlock: Have the people running Metro lost their minds — running four-car trains between Rosslyn and the Pentagon at evening rush hour every 12 to 15 minutes while simultaneously squeezing consecutive six-car Orange Line trains through Rosslyn? Just got home after waiting over 45 minutes at Rosslyn and fighting my way aboard for the two stops to the Pentagon. Another night like this, and it’s back to the car.
A To-Do List for Maryland
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I’d like to submit my thoughts about what the transportation priorities for Maryland should be.
Transit: First and foremost, we need better transit — particularly in Baltimore. For the Washington region, an extension of the Green Line Metro to Fort Meade (or better yet, BWI Airport!) needs to be fast-tracked. A line from Baltimore to Fort Meade would also be useful since Baltimore will likely get many new residents who don’t want to live in the District or the suburbs.
No intercounty connector: The debate continues about whether the connector will provide much-needed relief to congested roadways. I would vote that we don’t build the connector anytime soon. Rather, we need much more investment in transit. Monica Haines
Baltimore Paul Langley Alexandria
Don’t make eye contact with your fellow passengers as they ram their way on or off four-car trains. World War I soldiers probably had that look, going over the top of a trench for a bayonet attack.
Some help is on the way: Tomorrow, Metro is adding 24 rail cars to its peak-period service. The timing could not be better. It’s cherry blossom season, when our transit system is especially stressed. But the enhanced service will remain after the blossoms are gone.
Metro will convert one four-car train to a six-car train on the Yellow Line, and convert two four-car Blue Line trains to six-car trains. You’ll start to see eight-car trains on the Red and Green lines. The Orange Line will have some eight-car service during the afternoon peak, as well as in the morning.
I’d go for a mix of transit and road fixes, and they don’t all have to be so big.
The rail extension to BWI is a swell idea but way too expensive. Look at Virginia, where the state just announced an agreement to build an 11.6-mile Metro extension through Tysons Corner for up to $2.7 billion. For Maryland, how about more express buses from Howard County and Southern Maryland to Washington?
To launch the 18.8-mile intercounty connector, another staggeringly large investment, estimated at $2.4 billion, Maryland has picked a joint venture to build the seven-mile portion between Interstate 370 and Georgia Avenue.
But Maryland also is starting a bunch of smaller yet much-needed projects along the Capital Beltway.
The State Highway Administration is spending $1.5 million to add a second lane on the inner loop ramp to southbound Georgia Avenue, to be completed in mid-fall. This will eliminate the right merge area, and traffic will be controlled by a new signal, highway administration spokesman Chuck Gischlar said.
Others underway or about to start: K Widening the ramp from the inner loop to Wisconsin Avenue south, to be completed in June. K Reconstruction of the ramps along University Boulevard to and from the Beltway to improve safety and reduce congestion, to be completed in spring 2008. K Interchange construction and widening at Arena Drive, to be completed in fall 2009. K Interchange reconstruction at Branch Avenue from Auth Way to south of the Beltway, to be completed in fall 2009.
Rattled on Benning Road
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
My wife and I live in River Terrace just east of the Anacostia River. We use Benning Road NE daily and have grown exasperated by the constant road construction that never results in a smoother road surface. The ride has become bone-jarring and harmful to our cars. Christopher Goodwin
The recent roadwork involves Pepco utility upgrades, overseen by the District Department of Transportation, said Erik Linden, spokesman for the department.
I recently drove Benning Road between Oklahoma Avenue and 17th Street NE and can confirm our letter writer’s description. But Linden said that work is in its final stages and will end with the repairing and smoothing of the surface.
Still on the horizon is a DDOT project to fully rebuild Benning Road between Oklahoma Avenue and 14th Street NE. Linden said he expects construction will start in June or July and last two years. Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in the Extras and Sunday in the Metro section. You can e-mail questions and comments to email@example.com. Include your name, home community and phone number.