Traffic jam interstate highway pixabay

News of transportation and transit across Northern Virginia:

WMATA TO EMBARK ON STUDY OF BLUE, ORANGE, SILVER LINES: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has embarked on what is expected to be a two-year study identifying long-term options to improve reliability and meet future ridership demands on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

Those lines currently share a single set of tracks between the Rosslyn tunnel and the Anacostia River, creating a bottleneck that limits the number of trains that can be used and leads to the possibility that a service disruption on one line will have a ripple effect across all three lines.

The study aims to identify potential infrastructure improvements and service alternatives to resolve these issues.

“Our rebuilding efforts and ongoing preventive maintenance have improved Metro’s reliability to the highest levels in eight years, but it’s time to start thinking about the Blue, Orange and Silver lines’ infrastructure constraints so that Metro is well-positioned to serve future generations,” Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld said.

 The first phase of the study will assess key issues and trends and document why improvements are necessary. Subsequent phases will include the development and evaluation of alternatives, as well as analysis of costs and benefits.

Recommendations are expected to be reported by late 2020.

For information on the effort, see the Website at www.wmata.com/BOSstudy.

SUBSIDY STARTS FOR LATE-NIGHT COMMUTERS: The clock is ticking and the cash register is ringing as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has kicked off an effort to support late-night workers who travel when transit service is not available.

Since July 1, qualified workers – such as those in the hospitality or health-care industries – have been eligible to receive a $3 subsidy toward travel on Lyft for trips taken between their home and workplace between midnight and 4 a.m.

Known as the After-Hours Commuter Service, the program will provide qualified participants up to 10 discounted rides per week within Metro’s service area. It will run for a year or until the $1 million budget is exhausted.

“This program will provide late-night workers with a more affordable transportation option during overnight hours as we advance essential maintenance programs that improve safety and reliability,” said Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld.

Registration (at www.wmata.com/afterhours) is required. Once approved, participants will receive a pass each month in the Lyft app on their mobile device.

Enrollment in the program is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis and is open to Metro customers with a registered SmarTrip card. Periodic audits will be conducted to ensure participants meet the qualifications for the program.

DULLES, BWI VIE FOR BEST ON-TIME ARRIVALS IN REGION: Two of the region’s three major airports have been running neck-and-neck in the ranking of on-time flight arrivals, according to new federal data.

For the 12 months ending in April (the most recent available), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport posted a 79.9-percent on-time-arrival rate, with Washington Dulles International Airport showing a rate of 79.8 percent. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport trailed at 77.8 percent.

Dulles had the lowest ratio of canceled flights during that period, with 1.5 percent of expected arrivals being nixed. The cancellation rate was 2.7 percent both at Reagan National and BWI.

Data on the major carriers at each airport:

• At Dulles, dominant carrier United Airlines posted an 81.5-percent on-time rate for the 12 months ending in April, with 0.5 percent of its flights canceled.

• At Reagan National, American Airlines had a 77.5-percent on-time rate, with 2.3 percent of its flights canceled.

• At BWI, Southwest Airlines had an 80.3-percent on-time rate, with 3.3 percent of its flights canceled.

(Data for those mainline carriers do not include regional-carrier affiliates, which are counted separately.)

Nationally for the first four months of 2019, the on-time-arrival rate was 78.7 percent. For the full 12-month period in 2018, it was 79.4 percent, with Hawaiian, Delta, Alaska and Spirit airlines posting on-time-arrival rates higher than 80 percent.

(Federal statisticians count a flight as arriving on time if it reaches its destination gate within 15 minutes of the posted timetable.)

Full data can be found at www.bts.gov.

SHIRLINGTON INTERCHANGE STUDY APPROACHING ITS CONCLUSION: The Virginia Department of Transportation aims to have plans formalized for upgrades to the challenging Interstate 395 Shirlington traffic circle in coming months. Then the hunt for funding intensifies.

The final proposal of the $1.6 million study, which has been in the works since 2015, is likely to incorporate recommendations that were unveiled during a recent community forum, including:

• Widening the exit to Arlington Mill Drive;

• Signalizing the rotary at North Quaker Lane; and

• Signalizing the Interstate 395 off-ramp at Campbell Avenue.

The proposals aim to improve efficiency and safety at the circle, which currently features a mix of low- and high-speed traffic, the need for multi-lane weaving to get on and off, and backups at peak times.

As a result, drivers at the circle face higher-than-normal chances of rear-end collisions and side-swipe accidents, according to VDOT officials.

The federal government is funding the study, and about $2.5 million is in the till for improvements. But the entire cost of the improvement plan is estimated at $9.7 million if the work is done at once, higher if improvements are phased in. Federal, state, regional and local appropriations are likely to be necessary to support improvements.

For full details, see the Website at www.virginiadot.org/projects.

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