Pain Now, Gain Later

The Washington Post Sunday - - Metro Week -

D ear Dr. Grid­lock:

I am won­der­ing about the con­struc­tion on Ke­nil­worth Av­enue at Route 50. I am a com­muter from the An­napo­lis area and travel that road daily. I hope what they are do­ing will re­lieve con­ges­tion ex­it­ing onto

Route 50.

Well-Timed Help

Dear Dr. Grid­lock:

I would like to ex­press my pro­found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the road­side as­sis­tance given to me the af­ter­noon of Feb. 1 by Vir­ginia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion em­ployee Bernard Mar­quis. Mr. Mar­quis and his truck ap­peared three min­utes af­ter I had to stop on the Amer­i­can Le­gion Bridge be­cause a large piece of metal de­bris had wedged it­self un­der my car.

Mr. Mar­quis jacked up the front of the Diane Lu­cado

Edge­wa­ter Dear Dr. Grid­lock:

The state of Mary­land is re­plac­ing the bridge over Route 50 where the Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton Park­way turns into Ke­nil­worth Av­enue. In the morn­ing head­ing south (6:30 a.m.), this has slowed up traf­fic by about five min­utes. The evenings head­ing north (any­time af­ter 3:30) are a ruddy dis­as­ter.

Traf­fic on Route 295 is backed up past Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue, and it can take more than an hour to get to the squeeze point. The exit to Route 50 is now a hard right turn that causes trucks and buses to swing into the mid­dle lane to ac­cess the ramp. Melissa Das­ton

West Lau­rel

I think the gain will be worth the pain, but it will be awhile.

The Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­plac­ing the bridges built in 1956 and at­tempt­ing to im­prove safety and re­duce con­ges­tion at this busy in­ter­change, spokesman Chuck Gis­chlar said.

For the safety of mo­torists and con­struc­tion work­ers, the ramp from east­bound Route 50 to south­bound Ke­nil­worth Av­enue has been closed, and traf­fic is be­ing de­toured around the loop sys­tem of the in­ter­change. The ramp will be closed un­til roughly the end of sum­mer.

The bridges will be re­placed with slightly wider struc­tures to ac­com­mo­date a full shoul­der on the north­bound bridge and to pro­vide a ded­i­cated ac­cel­er­a­tion lane for east­bound Route 50 traf­fic merg­ing onto south­bound Ke­nil­worth. This ac­cel­er­a­tion lane will greatly re­duce con­ges­tion, Gis­chlar said.

The project is to be done in fall 2008. car and yanked the piece away. His fast ac­tion not only res­cued me but saved count­less driv­ers that af­ter­noon from what would clearly have been a ma­jor slow­down. Cour­te­ous, pro­fes­sional and kind, Mr. Mar­quis brought great credit to VDOT. Mil­dred Pat­ter­son Ar­ling­ton County Dear Dr. Grid­lock:

While wait­ing for a train at Pen­tagon City around 9:15 a.m. April 10, an an­nounce­ment came over the loud­speaker that, due to an emer­gency, the sta­tion was to be evac­u­ated: “Please leave by the near­est exit.” Since I like to board at the back of a north­bound train to fa­cil­i­tate my trans­fer at Gallery Place, that meant walk­ing the length of the plat­form to reach the exit.

While I was mak­ing the trek, a Blue Line train pulled up to the sta­tion and dis­charged pas­sen­gers. Since this be­came my new “clos­est exit,” I and a few oth­ers hopped on and took off. Ap­par­ently, the Yel­low Line train that fol­lowed a few min­utes later also stopped.

What both­ers me about this is that if it were a real emer­gency, shouldn’t the train op­er­a­tor have been in­formed so that he could stop at Crys­tal City or at best just keep mo­tor­ing through the sta­tion? Have you heard any­thing that would in­di­cate what went on?

By the way, take care cross­ing the bridge dur­ing the year-long paint­ing and clean­ing project that Mary­land high­way crews be­gan last month.

An Un­ex­plained Evac­u­a­tion

Chris Mrstik Ar­ling­ton County

This was one of those unin­spir­ing mo­ments in in­ci­dent man­age­ment. Many train rid­ers were left con­fused by the in­suf­fi­cient fol­low-up on the ini­tial an­nounce­ment.

Metro work­ers were do­ing main­te­nance at Pen­tagon City when a fire alarm was mis­tak­enly tripped. That set off an au­to­mated an­nounce­ment in the sta­tion, di­rect­ing pas­sen­gers to evac­u­ate.

Metro spokesman Steven Taubenki­bel said the sta­tion man­ager tried to tell cus­tomers it was a false alarm but couldn’t com­mu­ni­cate with ev­ery­one who had heard the an­nounce­ment.

“We sin­cerely apol­o­gize to those cus­tomers who were af­fected by this in­ci­dent,” Taubenki­bel said. 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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