Blos­soms Go, but Longer Trains Will Stay

The Washington Post Sunday - - Metro Week -

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

Wash­ing­ton

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 dr­grid­lock@wash­post.com. In­clude your name, home com­mu­nity and phone num­ber.

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