Bus Tours in Full Bloom and Block­ing Traf­fic

The Washington Post Sunday - - Metro Week -

DThe Dis­trict plans to shut South Capi­tol Street’s Fred­er­ick Dou­glass Me­mo­rial Bridge this sum­mer for re­con­struc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion but has been do­ing pre­lim­i­nary work some win­ter and spring week­ends. Dear Dr. Grid­lock:

I com­mute to Ar­ling­ton County from ear Dr. Grid­lock:

Now that spring has sprung, the tour buses are back. Each af­ter­noon, as my car­pool leaves town, we take Henry Ba­con Drive past the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial. And each af­ter­noon, there have been at least two buses there, idling away. Traf­fic is backed up onto Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue. Can the Park Po­lice get those buses out of there?

Jody Terry Spring­field Dear Dr. Grid­lock:

Al­though the signs clearly pro­hibit park­ing dur­ing rush hour, tour buses park there con­sis­tently, tak­ing away a lane and caus­ing back­ups on Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue and be­yond. Are we at the mercy of the tourists? Winnie Im­pe­rio

Alexan­dria The Na­tional Park Ser­vice al­lows buses to drop off and pick up in the right lane near the new vis­i­tor kiosk but not dur­ing the af­ter­noon rush, when Ba­con is a heav­ily used route to the Ar­ling­ton Me­mo­rial Bridge.

Tues­day, be­tween 4:45 and 6:15 p.m., a half-dozen tour buses stopped there. Un­like last fall, when I saw as many as five in a row parked there for long pe­ri­ods dur­ing the af­ter­noon rush, th­ese buses un­loaded pas­sen­gers and then drove off, re­turn­ing for them later.

That might make them harder to catch, but it’s not help­ing traf­fic. One bus stop­ping there is enough to grid­lock the in­ter­sec­tion at Con­sti­tu­tion and Ba­con.

“We cer­tainly rec­og­nize the sit­u­a­tion, and we are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with — and will con­tinue to have con­ver­sa­tions with — the tour bus groups and the Park Po­lice to make sure those buses do not park there be­tween 4 and 7 p.m. on week­days,” said Park Ser­vice spokesman Bill Line. The Park Ser­vice talks with tour bus groups to let them know what the rules are.

The best news is that the Park Ser­vice just re­opened the streets on the south side of the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial, fol­low­ing re­con­struc­tion, and there is more space for buses and taxis. What about en­force­ment? “We do our best to shoo them away and let them know they’re not sup­posed to park there,” Line said, not­ing that Park Po­lice re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at rush hour are broad and in­clude many of the re­gion’s park­ways. “We man­age parks and park­ways, but we do pay at­ten­tion to how bad traf­fic is in this area.”

This is a Park Ser­vice plan to bal­ance the needs of tourists and com­muters. It works only when the Park Ser­vice en­forces its rules.

Dou­glass Bridge Re­pairs

Mary­land. I’m look­ing for an al­ter­na­tive for July and Au­gust, when the se­ri­ous work be­gins. New York Av­enue is a zoo at the Third Street tun­nel, and go­ing through East Capi­tol Street will grid­lock the neigh­bor­hoods. There are al­ter­na­tives go­ing home, but ac­cess to the west­bound South­east-South­west Free­way is only through South Capi­tol.

I live 17 miles from Metro and do not get to Green­belt in time for a park­ing place.

The last two times they did bridge work on Fri­days, south­bound traf­fic via Ke­nil­worth-I-295 backed up all the way to Ben­ning Road, send­ing traf­fic back through the Howard Road exit, back to Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue to the free­way. New York Av­enue to the Third Street tun­nel has poorly timed lights. Bar­bara Boward


An­other round of pre­lim­i­nary work is sched­uled for April 13 to 16, weather per­mit­ting. The shut­down of the in­bound bridge lanes will start at 10 a.m. Fri­day and con­clude be­fore the Mon­day morn­ing rush.

The D.C. De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion con­tin­ues to rec­om­mend the 11th Street Bridge as the pri­mary driv­ing de­tour. “North­bound [in­bound] driv­ers should fol­low de­tours on I-295 north to the 11th Street bridge,” said Karyn LeBlanc, a de­part­ment spokes­woman. “South­bound [out­bound] driv­ers should fol­low de­tours to I-395 south across the 11th Street bridge to I-295 south.”

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing this let­ter and oth­ers, I drove the de­tour zone be­tween 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on a Satur­day and saw no prob­lems ex­cept for a backup on Howard Road. But our let­ter writer com­mutes af­ter Fri­day’s 10 a.m. clo­sure.

Share your sug­ges­tions on de­tours and al­ter­na­tives. I don’t see a bet­ter de­tour than the 11th Street bridge. Word about the sum­mer clo­sure re­ally needs to get around so driv­ers can un­der­stand al­ter­na­tives, such as park­ing at the Ana­cos­tia Metro sta­tion and tak­ing the train. 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.


A bus stops along Henry Ba­con Drive, near the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial, back­ing up traf­fic Tues­day.

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