Category Archives: Maryland

mrplow

Snow plowing information for Virginia, D.C. and Maryland

Once again, we’re getting snowed on again (3¼ inches by 9 a.m. in Alexandria) and everything is closed. After my brother linked to the real-time VDOT snow plow map, I thought I’d compile a list.

COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

VODTplows.org – pretty good tracker of plows working on Virginia Department of Transportation routes.

Alexandria Snow Removal Priorities and Snow Plow Zones (PDF) – What the city I live in is doing.

Arlington County Snow Alert and Primary & Secondary Snow Removal Map (PDF)

Town of Vienna and primary & secondary street list

City of Falls Church
Snow Emergency Routes (PDF)

Town of Herndon

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Snow Response Reporting System

STATE OF MARYLAND

Snow Emergency Plans

THE PAYOFF

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Maryland House service area by C. Patrick Zilliacus

I-95: New Maryland House service area re-opened, Chesapeake House closed

The first service area on Interstate 95 north, Maryland House, reopened recently. The facility was knocked down and replaced after closing in September 2012.

Private money built the new facility, and a private company will operate it.

Here’s what Maryland gets:

“Over $400 million in state revenue over the length of the partnership,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

The 35-year private-public partnership will also mean hundreds of local jobs.

The new Maryland House travel plaza will also have 40 gas pumps.

From 50-Year-Old Maryland House Set To Reopen As Ultra-Modern Rest Stop

Here is the official release: New $30 Million Maryland House Travel Plaza on I-95 Now Open

Further up I-95, the Chesapeake House will be closed until late summer or fall to be rebuilt.

PREVIOUSLY

I-95 Maryland House service area closes this Sunday09.11.2012
I-95’s Maryland service areas to be rebuilt02.13.2012
Upgrades coming to Md. I-95 service areas10.06.2006

Photo used with permission of C Patrick Zilliacus

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@Metro_Nomad’s valiant effort to visit every Metro station falls five short

Looking out of a Metro rear car
On Saturday, Steve Ander @Metro_Nomad , a Northern Virginia resident, set out to visit every station on the Metro system, defined as such:

The carefully crafted itinerary will keep him riding until he has stopped — and exited for a photo — at each of the 86 stations in the system.

WTOP live-blogged, from which the quote above came from, the whole journey.

Metro_Nomad was unsuccessful by a mere five stations:

That’s quite a journey nonetheless. The current Metro rail system is over 103 miles long with 86 stations. It can probably be done with a little luck and on a Friday when the system is open from 5 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next morning. That is until the Silver Line opens. We hope.

I like living in an area where the subway system is too big to clinch in day.

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Places I went in 2013

Standard rules apply — I spent the night, ate a meal at a local establishment or went on an adventure in that location:

Alexandria, Va.
Arlington, Va.
Ashburn, Va.
Burke, Va.
Centreville, Va.
Chantilly, Va.
Clifton, Va.
Fairfax, Va.
Falls Church, Va.
Great Falls, Va.
Mount Vernon, Va.
Mclean, Va.
Purcellville, Va.
Shenandoah National Park, Va.
Sterling, Va.
Vienna, Va.
Nassau, Bahamas
Freeport, Bahamas
Washington, D.C.
Newark, Del.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Port Canaveral, Fla.
Baltimore, Md.
Colesville, Md.
Comus, Md.
Perryville, Md.
Poolesville, Md.
Avalon, N.J.
Stone Harbor, N.J.
Dillsburg, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pa.
Hershey, Pa.
Mercersburg, Pa.
Oakdale, Pa.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Reedsville, Pa.
Robinson, Pa.
Davis, W.Va.

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This Sunday – 4 NFL games and a winter storm for a 235 mile stretch of I-95

This Sunday, at 1 p.m. in an approximately 235 miles span of Interstate 95, there are four NFL games taking place, each located within 2 miles of the East Coast’s main highway:

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins, Fex Field, Landover, Md.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.


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There is also a winter storm warning, in particular the D.C. region. From Capital Weather Gang – Winter storm watch issued for much of D.C. area Sunday into Monday:

The onset of precipitation across the area is most likely between mid-morning and noon with the precipitation probably starting as snow but changing to sleet and or freezing rain by late afternoon (in most spots)…

…Snow is likely for the commute to FedEx field (and for the Ravens game in Baltimore) with the snow changing to sleet and freezing rain during the game. Sleet or freezing rain is likely for the drive home.

The storm will also hit Philadelphia and the New York area, though seemingly not as hard around game time. Accuweather says:

While a large amount of snow is not expected, the city could receive its first inch or two of snow of the season, joining some of the northern and western suburbs from Friday night’s storm.

Warmer air is forecast to move in during the storm Sunday evening through Monday, causing a changeover to a wintry mix, then rain from the coast to inland areas.

In short, travel on the I-95 corridor could be pretty tough on Sunday, though most major Northeast Corridor traffic bypasses Philadelphia via the New Jersey Turnpike. On the other hand, MetLife Stadium is directly adjacent to the Turnpike. FedEx Field can be bypassed by using the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (unless you are a truck) and the opposite side of the Capital Beltway. M&T Bank Stadium is right near the terminus of the B/W Parkway, but the Harbor Tunnel Thruway provides a bypass too.

There is also a New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns game in Foxborough, but the forecast there is sunny and 34°.

I don’t know how much these games impact I-95 in general (an interesting question), but whatever that is could be magnified this Sunday.

Yes, I’m aware I-95 isn’t technically continuous between Pennsylvania and New Jersey

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I-95: 50 years ago, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and Delaware Turnpike opened

 

On this day in 1963, a significant section of Interstate 95 was opened at the Maryland-Delaware border amid pageantry and 10,000 people that included President John F. Kennedy in one of his last public appearances. The Maryland portion, the Northeast Expressway, was 42 miles long from Baltimore County to the Mason-Dixon Line. Across the border, the Delaware Turnpike traveled another 11 miles. Both states now honor the fallen president; the Northeast Expressway name was replaced in 1964 while Delaware merely added an additional name.

Here is report from the Delaware Department of Transportation which includes part of President Kennedy’s remarks

The transcript of the president’s speech is available from The News Journal or from DelDOT as a PDF.

Though only 53 miles were opened that day, it was a pivotal stretch, filling in the gap between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway. All of those three roads, combined with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, formed a limited access connection between Washington, D.C. and New York City for the first time — it was already possible to travel from Boston to New York without a single traffic light. The JFK/Del. Tpk. was the last major piece of what Steve Anderson of dcroads.net calls the “eastern turnpike complex”

The first piece of the “complex” was completed in 1940 with the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, followed in 1947 with the opening of the Maine Turnpike. This would be followed with the completion of controlled-access toll expressways in New Hampshire by 1950; Ohio by 1955; in New York and Indiana by 1956; in Massachusetts by 1957; in Connecticut and Illinois by 1958; and in Delaware and Maryland by 1963. By that year, motorists could travel from Maine south to Virginia, or west to Illinois, without stopping at a traffic light. Much of the “eastern turnpike complex” was ultimately absorbed into the Interstate highway system.

The road was tolled in order to get it built quicker:

…funding for other Interstate highways such as the Baltimore (I-695) and Capital (I-495) beltways, as well as urban freeways in those two metropolitan areas, took precedence over the Northeast Expressway. The state highway development program scheduled construction of the Northeast Expressway between 1966 and 1970, long after the aforementioned projects were to be scheduled for completion.

ON THE FAST TRACK TO CONSTRUCTION: In order to expedite construction of I-95, the Maryland State Roads Commission decided to finance construction and maintenance of the expressway with bonds backed by toll revenue. The state, which floated a $73 million bond issue to finance construction of the Northeast Expressway, did not violate Federal highway law because state funds were used to finance construction. However, the highway was to be built to Interstate standards.

The rest of I-95 in Delaware would not be completed until 1968 and the section through Wilmington was controversial. The connector between the Delaware Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike is I-295. In Maryland, I-95 would not be completed through Baltimore until 1985 with the opening of the Ft. McHenry Tunnel, though the Harbor Tunnel Thruway (now I-895) provided limited access through Baltimore. I-95 would not be completed as intended in Maryland with the portion inside the Capital Beltway cancelled, causing the number to be reassigned to the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway.

There is still a gap in New Jersey for I-95, but that is being addressed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike. Finally.

I am not sure if Maryland is doing anything to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary, but Delaware has an toll booth on display in the Delaware Service Area near Newark.

I have taken countless trips up the JFK/Del. Tpk. over the years, mostly to New Jersey to see family, friends or visit the Shore. While I don’t do that as often anymore, I still know the road and landmarks quite well and have a fondness for it, if not the Delaware Turnpike toll. It can be pretty in the fall and northeast of the Susquehanna River is the most rural portion of I-95 between Northern Virginia and New Hampshire. In Delaware, I enjoy the anticipation of trying to be the first to see the Delaware Memorial Bridge as well as the significance of the split that sends I-95 to Philadelphia and I-295 to New Jersey, it’s Turnpike, it’s Shore and New York.

ADDITIONAL READING

Delaware Turnpike – phillyroads.com
John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway – dcroads.net

After 50 years, I-95 still East Coast’s common thread and economic backbone | GalleryThe Sun

I-95 in Delaware linked East Coast, divided city of Wilmington | Over five decades, as tolls rise civility falls | TIMELINE: I-95 HISTORYThe News Journal

PRESS RELEASE: Original Delaware Turnpike Celebrates 50th Anniversary on November 14, 2013

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C&O Canal towpath to become U.S. Bike Route 50, but will it be signed sufficiently?

In addition to a large numbered highway system, the United States has a modest system for numbering bicycle routes. Starting with U.S. Bike Routes 1 & 76, the system is on some maps, but not posted too often on the routes themselves. Bike Route 1, travels up and down the eastern seaboard — I’ve seen a sign for it near Mount Vernon at the southern intersection of US 1 and VA 235.

Here is a brief introduction of the system from the Adventure Cycling Association‘s “U.S. Bike Route System: Surveys and Case Studies of Practices from Around the Country” (PDF):

The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) is a developing national network of bicycle routes that connects urban, suburban and rural areas using a variety of cycling facilities. State departments of transportation (DOTs) nominate routes for numbered designation through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The first U.S. Bicycle Routes were established in 1982, then the project lay dormant for over 20 years. In 2003, in an effort to reinvigorate the U.S. Bicycle Route System, AASHTO formed a Task Force on U.S. Bicycle Routes comprised of transportation agency staff, Federal Highway Administration, and bicycling organizations, including Adventure Cycling Association, which began providing staff support to the project in 2005.

This month, a new route number was approved by AASHTO at the for the Maryland portions of C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage – U.S. Bicycle Route 50. From the meeting minutes of Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (PDF) meeting in Denver earlier this month:

U.S. Bicycle Route 50Additional research on the Wikipedia entry for United States Numbered Bicycle Routes suggests that Bike Route 50 is proposed to be a transcontinental route from Cape Henlopen, Del. all the way to San Francisco, concurrent American Discovery Trail. It appears that the Maryland portion is the first to officially designated. I suppose the designation was earned because the two trails form a continuous route across the entire state or perhaps, Maryland was merely the first to officially make the request to AASHTO.

I hope that Maryland and the National Park Service team up to sign Bike Route 50 well. One of my frustrations as a cyclist is the haphazard nature of signing bike routes. In some ways, it has improved in recent years (i.e. New Shirlington Connector Signage), but I believe a numbering system at the national and local levels is warranted. Pennsylvania seems to do a pretty good job of it with their lettered bike routes(pahighways.com), utilizing the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bike Route signs that Richard C. Moeur has posted on his Signs for Bicycle Facilities page. With all the wonderful bike paths in BeltwayLand, especially in Arlington, Alexandria and the District, route markers would be very helpful, particularly for our growing cycling population.

ADDITIONAL VIEWING AND READING

U.S. Bicycle Route System – Adventure Cycling Association

H/T Southeast Roads group on Facebook

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White’s Ferry connects Loudoun and Montgomery counties

White's Ferry sign through the sunroof
DICKERSON, Md. — While there are no bridge between the American Legion (nee Cabin John) Bridge that the I-495/Capital Beltway crosses over and the US 15/Point of Rocks Bridge north of Lessburg, there is another crossing — White’s Ferry.

There isn’t a Web site for White’s Ferry any more, but according to Wikipedia, ferries have operated at that location since the 19th century. Regrettably, the boat is named after Confederate general Jubal Early. I’ll leave it at that.

The ferry boat itself, connected via cable to both sides of the river, is an unremarkable vessel that can hold about two dozen cars.

Aboard White's Ferry

Maryland Route 107 - White's Ferry RoadVirginia Secondary Route 655The voyage costs $5 one way for each car and $8 round trip. We waited for a little under 15 minutes to get on it. The ride across the river takes under 5 minutes. On the Maryland side, there is a small restaurant (which may not be open this time of year) and plentiful parking. Cyclists and pedestrians are welcome to use the ferry as well — the C&O Canal Towpath passes nearby. On the Virginia side, White’s Ferry Road (Secondary Route 655) connects to the ferry to US 15 north of Leesburg. The Maryland side is also called White’s Ferry Road (Maryland Route 107) and is west of Poolesville. Since it is in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, it is not close to much of anything other than scenic country. The drive to White’s Ferry is the real selling point of the trip and in about a month or so, it should especially pretty.


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Highway markers from Shields Up!

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WMATA’s new Metro map with Silver Line released

With new Metro map, agency tries to market Silver LineThe Post
The new Silver Line, currently expected to open in early 2014, requires a new Metro system map. In order to accommodate the line that will serve the Dulles Corridor, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority brought back original designer, Laynce Wyman to figure to create an updated map. An initial version debuted in 2012 in conjunction with Rush Plus.

The new map (with annotations from The Post) keeps the basic design that dates back to the 1970s. There are several differences:

  • The Metro lines are not as wide
  • For the Blue-Orange-Silver portion, there are little white prongs attached to the station circle
  • Abbreviations are also being used for station names — i.e. Morgan Boulevard is now Morgan Blvd

One change that isn’t mentioned is that the line colors are different shades than what was used for about three decades. This change actually occurred within the last couple of years as the proposed Silver Line started appearing on maps.

I decided to go back and find an older Metro map* and compare it with the current edition.

WMATA MAPS PRESENT & PAST

NEW


OLD

maps not to scale

Using graphics software, I grabbed the hex/RGB numbers of each line’s color, past and present and put them together in this table:

WMATA SPECTRUM PRESENT & PAST
LINE NEW COLOR NEW HEX/RGB OLD COLOR OLD HEX/RGB
BLUE #0795d3
198-97-83
  #015593
1-85-147
RED   #be1337
190-19-55
  #e7312e
239-49-46
ORANGE   #da8707
218-135-7
  #f86e33
248-110-51
YELLOW   #f5d415
245-212-21
  #fbd731
251-215-49
GREEN   #00b050
0-176-80
  #00733a
0-115-8
SILVER   #a2a4a1
162-164-161
N/A N/A

I’m not sure that these color changes needed to be made, particularly the Orange Line which is pretty dull now. The Yellow Line seems the least changed.

As for the Silver Line itself:

Now, Metro has turned its focus to what its chief marketer calls “raising awareness” of the new, $6 billion rail line that eventually will run to Dulles International Airport and parts of Loudoun County.

Research among focus groups and from surveys conducted this year showed that only 45 to 55 percent of riders in the Washington region are aware of the rail addition, Metro said.

That leaves some transportation and land-use experts skeptical of whether — and when — the Silver Line will meet its ridership expectations. As one of the country’s most expensive transportation projects underway, the Silver Line is seen as an important test of whether drivers will abandon their cars and ride a transit line.

The Silver Line extension being built from East Falls Church will be 23 miles long when completed. The first phase is 11 miles and includes four new stations in Tysons Corner and one in Reston. Construction of the second phase, which will run to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, is expected to start in mid-2014.

I would like to know more about the survey — which riders are most aware or unaware of the Silver Line. If they are Red Line riders, that’s probably not too big a deal. If they are Orange Line riders in Arlington, we’ll that’s a different story.

I still wish WMATA had gone with a letter/number suffix naming convention.

On a lighter note, I think I’ll wait until the Silver Line is completed to Loudoun County before I order a Metro map shower curtain (We Love DC).

*Finding an old Metro map was harder than I expected. The small one I found turned out to be from Hardball Talk of all things, from last season when the Washington Nationals in a typical tone-deaf move, argued about keeping Metro open in case of late-games.

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