Monday's Commute Expected To Be Challenging

Montgomery County traffic signals still out

Washington-area residents and local leaders are preparing for a difficult Monday morning commute in parts of the region because of storm damage.

Montgomery County, Md., is expected to be especially difficult for drivers. Officials say there were more than 400 dark traffic signals in Montgomery on Sunday afternoon, including major intersections in Rockville, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring.

Fairfax County officials said more than 100 traffic signals in Northern Virginia are without power. Drivers should treat these intersections as four-way stops and proceed with caution.

Charlie Gischlar with the Maryland State Highway Administration says peopled driving to the nation's capital from Maryland need to allow a lot of extra time. He says mass transit is a better option.

Metrorail trains and commuter trains are expected to run as scheduled but are likely to experience major delays because of road closures and signal outages. Metro is advising customers to allow additional travel time due to the ongoing effects of damage caused by Friday's extreme weather.

Metro released the following information Sunday night:

Metrobus: As of Sunday evening, approximately two dozen Metrobus routes are operating on detour routes due to downed power lines, downed trees or other storm damage. Delays could be widespread during the Monday morning commute, as a result of congestion from dark traffic signals and additional vehicles on the road.

Metrorail: Metro currently has sufficient third-rail power to support train operations on all Metrorail lines. However, there are some locations where, due to commercial power outages, Metro is "backfeeding" (moving) power to other parts of the system via the third rail. In the event of a further loss of commercial power, it may be necessary for Metro to impose train speed restrictions in order to maintain adequate power.

Stations: All 86 Metrorail stations are expected to open normally tomorrow. As of Sunday evening, there are several stations that are operating on backup power systems and emergency lighting. Customers at these stations may notice offline station equipment, including escalators, platform displays, lighting and PA systems.

High-occupancy vehicle restrictions will be lifted on eastbound Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway.  Regular HOV restrictions will remain in effect on I-66 outside the Beltway and on I-95/395.

The federal government is hoping to help ease the traffic problems by giving employees the option for unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.  Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has declared liberal leave for all non-essential state employees on Monday.

Falls Church will institute liberal leave for employees Monday.  Loudoun County government will be open Monday but on unscheduled leave for non essential personnel. Emergency personnel and essential employees are expected to report on time.

The D.C. government will be open tomorrow. D.C. Public Schools, however, will be closed. 

Prince George's County Public Schools will operate under Code Yellow on Monday, meaning schools are closed. All offices are closed. Emergency personnel only must report to work. All evening activities are canceled.

A full list of closings can be found here.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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