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Author Topic: District of Columbia  (Read 218649 times)

cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #375 on: February 07, 2015, 07:55:48 PM »

WTOP Radio: Confusion persists for Southeast-Southwest Freeway drivers



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The ever-vexing route through Washington known as the Southeast-Southwest Freeway has become even more confusing for downtown drivers. Along with the resurrection of Interstate 695, a previously hidden designation for the eastern half of the freeway, new signs for eastbound exits now appear to contradict one another.

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The guide signs above the freeway now show the exit for C Street SW/U.S. Capitol as both Exit 2B and Exit 6. This portion of the freeway is officially Interstate 395 North. However, the exit for Potomac Park beyond the 14th Street Bridge is also signed as Exit 2. The new signs were installed about two months ago.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #376 on: February 07, 2015, 07:57:41 PM »

Meh, New York's had conflicting exit numbers on the Cross-Bronx for years.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #377 on: February 07, 2015, 10:51:24 PM »

It's funny, Dave Dildine (author of that article) interviewed me over the phone yesterday about the ramp from the Ninth Street Tunnel to northbound (really east at that point) I-395. He's doing a story on the worst merges in the DC area. Guess it fits right in with this story.

I notice he doesn't mention how for so many years, the sign for the C Street exit had you get in the far left lane when you needed to be in the second lane from the right.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #378 on: February 08, 2015, 10:06:06 AM »

It's funny, Dave Dildine (author of that article) interviewed me over the phone yesterday about the ramp from the Ninth Street Tunnel to northbound (really east at that point) I-395. He's doing a story on the worst merges in the DC area. Guess it fits right in with this story.

I notice he doesn't mention how for so many years, the sign for the C Street exit had you get in the far left lane when you needed to be in the second lane from the right.

The worst merges (IMO) in the region used to be from U.S. 50 (John Hanson Highway) eastbound to Md. 201 (Kenilworth Avenue) southbound; from Outer Loop I-495 to westbound Va. 267 (Dulles Toll Road) and the miserable lane drop on southbound I-95 approaching and passing Va. 286 (Fairfax County Parkway, f/k/a 7100).  All have been fixed for several years now by adding capacity on a relatively small scale.

My candidates for worst merges (no particular order) these days are:

- Northbound I-395 approaching and passing the merge with U.S. 1 and Va. 110 (Jefferson Davis Highway);
- I-495 at the American Legion Bridge, where there are lane drops in both directions at both ends of the span;
- Eastbound I-66 passing the merge with the Dulles Connector Road, and passing the lane drop at U.S. 29 (Lee Highway) at Exit 69 and continuing until past the entrance ramp from North Sycamore Street;
- Inner Loop I-495 passing the south end of I-270 at Md. 355 (Rockville Pike), where Inner Loop traffic has to deal with a lane drop;
- Southbound I-395 in the Va. 236 (Duke Street) interchange;
- Outer Loop I-495 passing I-95, and continuing past Md. 650 (New Hampshire Avenue) and continued bonus misery of Outer Loop I-495 passing U.S. 29 (Colesville Road);
- Southbound D.C. 295 approaching and passing East Capitol Street (yes, there is a lane drop);
- Northbound D.C. 295 approaching and passing Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. (also a lane drop);
- Northbound I-395 entering the Third Street Tunnel, where the (lightly-used) exit ramp to C Street, S.W./Washington Avenue, S.W./Independence Avenue, S.W. and The House is effective a lane drop (and rewards aggressive drivers that use the left lane leading to this ramp to the last minute, then jam into the lane that heads for the tunnel portal);
- Eastbound U.S. 50 passing the entrance ramp from northbound Md. 201;
- Westbound U.S. 50 exiting to Outer Loop I-95/I-495 (this ramp is only one lane - it starts as two, but the right lane drops to provide access to the New Carrollton rail station); and
- Northbound I-270 approaching and passing Md. 121 (Clarksburg Road), where there is ... a lane drop.
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mrsman

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #379 on: February 08, 2015, 04:15:54 PM »

It's funny, Dave Dildine (author of that article) interviewed me over the phone yesterday about the ramp from the Ninth Street Tunnel to northbound (really east at that point) I-395. He's doing a story on the worst merges in the DC area. Guess it fits right in with this story.

I notice he doesn't mention how for so many years, the sign for the C Street exit had you get in the far left lane when you needed to be in the second lane from the right.

The worst merges (IMO) in the region used to be from U.S. 50 (John Hanson Highway) eastbound to Md. 201 (Kenilworth Avenue) southbound; from Outer Loop I-495 to westbound Va. 267 (Dulles Toll Road) and the miserable lane drop on southbound I-95 approaching and passing Va. 286 (Fairfax County Parkway, f/k/a 7100).  All have been fixed for several years now by adding capacity on a relatively small scale.

My candidates for worst merges (no particular order) these days are:

- Northbound I-395 approaching and passing the merge with U.S. 1 and Va. 110 (Jefferson Davis Highway);
- I-495 at the American Legion Bridge, where there are lane drops in both directions at both ends of the span;
- Eastbound I-66 passing the merge with the Dulles Connector Road, and passing the lane drop at U.S. 29 (Lee Highway) at Exit 69 and continuing until past the entrance ramp from North Sycamore Street;
- Inner Loop I-495 passing the south end of I-270 at Md. 355 (Rockville Pike), where Inner Loop traffic has to deal with a lane drop;
- Southbound I-395 in the Va. 236 (Duke Street) interchange;
- Outer Loop I-495 passing I-95, and continuing past Md. 650 (New Hampshire Avenue) and continued bonus misery of Outer Loop I-495 passing U.S. 29 (Colesville Road);
- Southbound D.C. 295 approaching and passing East Capitol Street (yes, there is a lane drop);
- Northbound D.C. 295 approaching and passing Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. (also a lane drop);
- Northbound I-395 entering the Third Street Tunnel, where the (lightly-used) exit ramp to C Street, S.W./Washington Avenue, S.W./Independence Avenue, S.W. and The House is effective a lane drop (and rewards aggressive drivers that use the left lane leading to this ramp to the last minute, then jam into the lane that heads for the tunnel portal);
- Eastbound U.S. 50 passing the entrance ramp from northbound Md. 201;
- Westbound U.S. 50 exiting to Outer Loop I-95/I-495 (this ramp is only one lane - it starts as two, but the right lane drops to provide access to the New Carrollton rail station); and
- Northbound I-270 approaching and passing Md. 121 (Clarksburg Road), where there is ... a lane drop.

It seems to me that what 1995hoo and what CPZ are referring to are two separate definitions of worst merges.  CPZ's list are definitely the most traffic laden merges, the merges that cause slowdowns in otherwise free-flowing highways even at times when the road isn't terribly busy.

But the merge from the 9th street tunnel to the I-395 north (heading to 695) is downright dangerous.  A merge in from the left with very little room.  I've had the misfortune of merging in from there, and it was not pleasant.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #380 on: February 08, 2015, 07:09:08 PM »

It seems to me that what 1995hoo and what CPZ are referring to are two separate definitions of worst merges.  CPZ's list are definitely the most traffic laden merges, the merges that cause slowdowns in otherwise free-flowing highways even at times when the road isn't terribly busy.

But the merge from the 9th street tunnel to the I-395 north (heading to 695) is downright dangerous.  A merge in from the left with very little room.  I've had the misfortune of merging in from there, and it was not pleasant.

Agreed.  The one from 9th Street, S.W. to 395 is terrible.  Left-side merge with no merge/transition lane at all. I go out of my way to avoid it. 

But if you don't like that one, there's one I like even less, also a left-side merge with no place to merge or accelerate - from Benning Road, N.E. to northbound D.C. 295 (GSV here).

This one is more-dangerous (IMO) because speeds of northbound traffic tend to be higher here.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2015, 02:52:14 PM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #381 on: February 09, 2015, 06:56:05 AM »

But the merge from the 9th street tunnel to the I-395 north (heading to 695) is downright dangerous.  A merge in from the left with very little room.  I've had the misfortune of merging in from there, and it was not pleasant.

What's worse is that it's an unwarned inside merge, where the innermost lane on the on-ramp merges immediately into the left lane of the mainline.  Usually, lane drops for entering traffic are for the outermost lane, so while on-ramp traffic has to watch for on-ramp lanes to merge into one, nothing entering from the on-ramps has to immediately merge into the mainline.

Inside merges are not uncommon in other regions --  I've seen them in Chicago, among other places. But they're dangerous in areas like ours where they are rare, and surprise drivers who aren't expecting them. 

There could be at least warning signs, but the more straightforward fix would be to restripe the two on-ramp lanes so they merge before they join the mainline,
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #382 on: February 09, 2015, 10:02:48 AM »

It seems to me that what 1995hoo and what CPZ are referring to are two separate definitions of worst merges.  CPZ's list are definitely the most traffic laden merges, the merges that cause slowdowns in otherwise free-flowing highways even at times when the road isn't terribly busy.

But the merge from the 9th street tunnel to the I-395 north (heading to 695) is downright dangerous.  A merge in from the left with very little room.  I've had the misfortune of merging in from there, and it was not pleasant.

Agreed.  The one from 9th Street, S.W. to 395 is terrible.  Left-side merge with no merge/transition lane at all. I go out of my way to avoid it. 

But if you don't like that one, there's one I like even less, also a left-side merge with no place to merge or accelerate - from Benning Road, N.E. to northbound D.C. 295 (GSV here.

This one is more-dangerous (IMO) because speeds of northbound traffic tend to be higher here.

I work a few blocks from the north end of the 9th street tunnel, but rarely drive there as I take Metro to work.  12th and 9th tunnels are like mini-freeways and help traffic heading to the part of Downtown along Constitution and north avoid Independence Ave and other cross-streets.  Arguably, they are the main gateways to this central part of Downtown.  It seems odd to me that given the traffic loads on the tunnels, that they have such a poorly designed freeway entrance to 395 north.  (The other ramps 9th to 395 south and the ramps to the 12th st tunnel are much better and easier.)
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1995hoo

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #383 on: February 09, 2015, 10:22:00 AM »

It seems to me that what 1995hoo and what CPZ are referring to are two separate definitions of worst merges.  CPZ's list are definitely the most traffic laden merges, the merges that cause slowdowns in otherwise free-flowing highways even at times when the road isn't terribly busy.

But the merge from the 9th street tunnel to the I-395 north (heading to 695) is downright dangerous.  A merge in from the left with very little room.  I've had the misfortune of merging in from there, and it was not pleasant.

Agreed.  The one from 9th Street, S.W. to 395 is terrible.  Left-side merge with no merge/transition lane at all. I go out of my way to avoid it. 

But if you don't like that one, there's one I like even less, also a left-side merge with no place to merge or accelerate - from Benning Road, N.E. to northbound D.C. 295 (GSV here.

This one is more-dangerous (IMO) because speeds of northbound traffic tend to be higher here.

I work a few blocks from the north end of the 9th street tunnel, but rarely drive there as I take Metro to work.  12th and 9th tunnels are like mini-freeways and help traffic heading to the part of Downtown along Constitution and north avoid Independence Ave and other cross-streets.  Arguably, they are the main gateways to this central part of Downtown.  It seems odd to me that given the traffic loads on the tunnels, that they have such a poorly designed freeway entrance to 395 north.  (The other ramps 9th to 395 south and the ramps to the 12th st tunnel are much better and easier.)

It's a relic of the 1950s/1960s. Old, outdated highway design that would be difficult (at best) to improve given space constraints coupled with the disruption caused by construction, further coupled with the difficulty posed by those townhouses they built on the south side of the highway right there. BTW, after Friday's nights Caps–Ducks game it was worse than usual—they had a bunch of construction cones/barrels narrowing the ramp to allow for some kind of work on the right side. Made the merge that much worse.

Look at other highways built in the same time period, or earlier, and you'll see what we now recognize as design deficiencies there as well. Some of New York City's highways are great examples.


For those unfamiliar, here's the DC merge we are discussing (sped up to 250% of actual speed). In this particular clip I had an easy time of it, but you can see why this is not an easy spot. Traffic is usually quite heavy and quite fast and people around here generally do not seem to believe in moving over to make it easier for people to enter the highway.

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #384 on: February 09, 2015, 06:35:19 PM »

Sounds like the mid-span entrances of the Pulaski Skyway here in NJ. Getting on the highway there will put some hair on your chest.

https://goo.gl/maps/wUvtG

Once upon a time this was even a blind merge, they finally took down the barrier to improve sight lines.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #385 on: February 13, 2015, 03:29:22 PM »

Some recent images of D.C. 295 and I-695 in D.C. on Facebook (no account required) here.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #386 on: February 13, 2015, 03:30:37 PM »

Sounds like the mid-span entrances of the Pulaski Skyway here in NJ. Getting on the highway there will put some hair on your chest.

https://goo.gl/maps/wUvtG

Once upon a time this was even a blind merge, they finally took down the barrier to improve sight lines.

Yeah, those are nasty.  Definitely similar to the left-side merges onto D.C. 295 and I-395.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #387 on: February 13, 2015, 03:41:57 PM »

Sounds like the mid-span entrances of the Pulaski Skyway here in NJ. Getting on the highway there will put some hair on your chest.

https://goo.gl/maps/wUvtG

Once upon a time this was even a blind merge, they finally took down the barrier to improve sight lines.

Yeah, those are nasty.  Definitely similar to the left-side merges onto D.C. 295 and I-395.

I'm lucky that I'm usually on the Pulaski only at off-peak times when I visit family in the area.  Southbound, I make note to be in the left lane to avoid traffic coming from the extremely heavy merge from Tonnelle Ave and then shift to the right to avoid even the possibility of dealing with somebody entering from the two left ramps.

As a follow-up question (to anyone reading this thread) do you think that if there is no feasible way to improve the safety of these types of on-ramps that they should be closed and traffic should just find a different way onto the expressway?

I believe that they should close the dangerous on-ramps because safety comes first.  Yes, drivers may have to go quite a bit out of their way, but it's important.

For Downtown DC, if the ramp were closed, then drivers would just have to head onto 7th Street towards the freeway.

For Benning Rd, if that ramp were closed, then just head over to East Capitol Street.

For our friends in NJ, use Truck 1-9 to the nearest entrance.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 03:48:58 PM by mrsman »
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #388 on: February 14, 2015, 12:27:54 AM »

Or narrow the thru highway down a lane to eliminate the left merge as was done on US-1 in NJ: https://goo.gl/maps/YgjBU
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #389 on: February 15, 2015, 08:06:46 AM »

Or narrow the thru highway down a lane to eliminate the left merge as was done on US-1 in NJ: https://goo.gl/maps/YgjBU

To the extent that traffic can take it, that sounds like a good option, but I don't know how possible that is in the examples listed above.

I've felt that it should be done along I-395 from 9th Street.  If I-395 were narrowed on the Downtown approach, after the 12th Street exit, from 3 to 2 lanes (most likely by forcing the 3rd lane off at Maine Ave), then the entrances from Maine Ave and 9th Street that come in from the left will each have their own lane.  Again, not sure what such a lane drop will do with regard to traffic, but keep in mind that if one views the I-395 as being primarily to serve Downtown, a lot of people will be getting off at these exits anyway.

Another bad set of left on-ramps can be found in Chicago in the West Loop along I-90/94.  They've recently removed some of the on=ramps and made them somewhat longer, but their still terrible.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #390 on: March 02, 2015, 09:26:26 AM »

Can you guys think of any way for a tractor-trailer legally to access I-66 past the Kennedy Center? I was just on there earlier this morning going from Memorial Bridge to the Watergate (can't use Rock Creek Parkway due to rush hour traffic pattern) and there was an enormous tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder between Ohio Drive and the merge coming from the inbound Roosevelt Bridge.

Of course he could have been there illegally too. I'm trying to figure out what route he must have used, assuming he wasn't on the Roosevelt Bridge since large trucks of his size aren't allowed on any of the roads leading to it from Virginia.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #391 on: March 02, 2015, 01:02:04 PM »

Can you guys think of any way for a tractor-trailer legally to access I-66 past the Kennedy Center?
Get into the left lane of I-66 west at its beginning, miss the faded ALL TRUCKS pointing onto the E Street Expressway, then notice the ALL TRUCKS pointing onto the U-turn before it becomes Ohio Drive. The latter sign might not be necessary if the former restriction were posted better.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #392 on: March 02, 2015, 05:46:06 PM »

Sounds like the mid-span entrances of the Pulaski Skyway here in NJ. Getting on the highway there will put some hair on your chest.

https://goo.gl/maps/wUvtG

Once upon a time this was even a blind merge, they finally took down the barrier to improve sight lines.

Yeah, those are nasty.  Definitely similar to the left-side merges onto D.C. 295 and I-395.

I'm lucky that I'm usually on the Pulaski only at off-peak times when I visit family in the area.  Southbound, I make note to be in the left lane to avoid traffic coming from the extremely heavy merge from Tonnelle Ave and then shift to the right to avoid even the possibility of dealing with somebody entering from the two left ramps.

As a follow-up question (to anyone reading this thread) do you think that if there is no feasible way to improve the safety of these types of on-ramps that they should be closed and traffic should just find a different way onto the expressway?

I believe that they should close the dangerous on-ramps because safety comes first.  Yes, drivers may have to go quite a bit out of their way, but it's important.

For Downtown DC, if the ramp were closed, then drivers would just have to head onto 7th Street towards the freeway.

For Benning Rd, if that ramp were closed, then just head over to East Capitol Street.

For our friends in NJ, use Truck 1-9 to the nearest entrance.

Ha! Left on-ramps you ask?  Try the FDR NB near 155th st. 
PS. I thought CT's Merritt Parkway was bad, but that's a marvel compared to some of NYC parkways.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #393 on: March 22, 2015, 09:34:10 PM »

WTOP Radio: Police announce new speed camera locations rolling out in D.C.

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The new photo enforcement locations are as follows:

  • 6100 block of Eastern Ave NE southeastbound, Speed: 25 mph
  • 3200 block of Fort Lincoln Dr NE southbound, Speed: 25 mph
  • 1900 block of Branch Ave SE southbound, Speed: 25 mph
  • 1400 block of South Capitol St SE northbound, Speed: 25 mph
  • 1400 block of South Capitol St SW southbound, Speed: 25 mph
  • 600 blk of Kenilworth Ave NE southbound, Speed: 25 mph
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #394 on: March 22, 2015, 09:35:34 PM »

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  • 600 blk of Kenilworth Ave NE southbound, Speed: 25 mph

I presume this is on the frontage road on southbound D.C. 295, not the mainline.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #395 on: March 22, 2015, 09:38:48 PM »

1400 block of South Capitol Street? Unless I'm mistaken, that's right outside the ballpark. High pedestrian traffic area. Also an area with fairly high vehicle speeds.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #396 on: March 23, 2015, 11:15:20 AM »

Correct...that's the block between O and P.
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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #397 on: March 23, 2015, 12:25:58 PM »

I'll keep my eyes peeled for it when I go down there this week or next week for my annual "scout out the parking to see if where I park for games is still legal" trip. The place where I park was still OK for the Winter Classic, but I always like to verify in advance of the season so I don't get a nasty surprise on Opening Day!

This particular camera location should rake in a lot of money until people get used to it being there. It's not unusual to see people going through there at 45–50 mph. If indeed the new DC United stadium gets built in Buzzard Point, there will be that much more pedestrian traffic crossing South Capitol Street there because the Navy Yard Metro is up at Half and M SE. I'm usually not thrilled by the concept of speed cameras, especially when they're used to enforce ludicrously low speed limits (the ones on I-295 near Blue Plains being a prime example of that, though I've never gotten ticketed because I know where they are), but the high traffic speeds often seen past the ballpark are not really compatible with safe traffic management after ballpark events.
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"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

cpzilliacus

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #398 on: March 23, 2015, 01:49:28 PM »

I'll keep my eyes peeled for it when I go down there this week or next week for my annual "scout out the parking to see if where I park for games is still legal" trip. The place where I park was still OK for the Winter Classic, but I always like to verify in advance of the season so I don't get a nasty surprise on Opening Day!

Good approach.  When I was studying parking space turnover there, a TON of free, unrestricted spaces were available on an abandoned section of Canal Street, S.E. behind the site of the old D.C. DPW trash transfer station off of I Street, S.E. west of 2nd Street, S.E.  But those are all gone now.

This particular camera location should rake in a lot of money until people get used to it being there. It's not unusual to see people going through there at 45–50 mph. If indeed the new DC United stadium gets built in Buzzard Point, there will be that much more pedestrian traffic crossing South Capitol Street there because the Navy Yard Metro is up at Half and M SE. I'm usually not thrilled by the concept of speed cameras, especially when they're used to enforce ludicrously low speed limits (the ones on I-295 near Blue Plains being a prime example of that, though I've never gotten ticketed because I know where they are), but the high traffic speeds often seen past the ballpark are not really compatible with safe traffic management after ballpark events.

If conditions are congested on I-695, I could see that as a bail-out route to go north on D.C. 295 or south on I-295, but it is no longer a good one.  When conditions are free-flow, I-695 is a vastly faster way, though it is a little longer.

When there is an event at the Nationals ballpark, the DDOT traffic control people usually have traffic running very slowly on South Capitol Street in that area. 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 01:57:32 PM by cpzilliacus »
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1995hoo

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Re: District of Columbia
« Reply #399 on: March 25, 2015, 01:56:52 PM »

I was just down past the ballpark. As froggie notes, the new cameras are on the block between O and P. Both are on the median; the outbound (southbound) camera is closer to O and the northbound (inbound) camera is closer to P. The road already has the horizontal lines painted across it some distance past the camera. I was the only person going anywhere remotely as slow as 25 mph, so as I speculated before, the city is going to make a fortune from those cameras until people realize they're there.

Incidentally, Maine Avenue past the Southwest Waterfront is a massive mess. It was bad in January en route to the Winter Classic, but it's far worse now, to the point where it is a road to be avoided for the foreseeable future due to all the construction work, massively bumpy pavement, protruding manhole covers, etc. There is also a new traffic light near the seafood market where 12th Street comes out of that short tunnel and Maine Avenue comes in as a single lane coming from the Tidal Basin. There was always a yield sign there but it was never 100% clear at whom it was directed. Well, now there's a light that alternates between both streets. While I usually dislike traffic lights, with all the construction going on this one is probably a good idea for now for purposes of protecting the workers by reducing the risk of failure-to-yield crashes.


BTW, regarding cpzilliacus's comment about I-695 versus South Capitol Street, I-695 is definitely the faster route now that most of the construction on there is done. That's how we usually go home from Caps games because we're usually just a smidgen too late to access the I-395 HOV lanes. Since there's still a lot of construction in the Seminary Road area, we opt for I-695 to I-295 to the Beltway instead. Surprisingly, given I-295's usual state of anarchy, that route is less stressful to drive than I-395 is!
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

 


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