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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 09:40 AM ET, 06/25/2012

Beltway work zones, lane closings, Metro delays: the week ahead for traffic and transit

It could be 100 degrees by Friday, the Capital Weather Gang says, but the early part of the week should be just fine for your local travels.

The Nationals are away all week, but D.C. United plays Saturday night at RFK Stadium and the Mystics play Tuesday and Friday nights at Verizon Center.

Schools are out, but vacationers are contributing to congestion on highways and Metro. We don’t get a serious break in the D.C. area until late July and August.

Traffic on the Capital Beltway’s outer loop is likely to be heavy between the Springfield interchange and Telegraph Road because of a new lane pattern. There’s another difficult spot for Beltway drivers on the Maryland side, where the work zone for the Northwest Branch Bridge was rearranged recently.

For those willing to brave the roads and train tracks, check our Going Out Guide, the Beach Guide, the best summer concerts calendar and the guide to Washington’s best rooftop bars.

While you’re planning, look over these work zones and transportation developments. And join me at noon for our weekly discussion of your traffic and transit concerns.

Beltway/Telegraph Road

Commuters are having their first experiences with the new location for the THRU/LOCAL lane split on the Beltway’s outer loop in Virginia. Because the split has been moved farther west, drivers must choose their lanes sooner.

The two outer loop THRU lanes are in their final configuration, but until July 30, when this work is done, a single LOCAL lane will be open from the split to just past Telegraph Road.

Only those who need to reach Telegraph Road, Route 1 or I-295/National Harbor should use the single LOCAL lane. The ramp from the Eisenhower Connector to the outer loop will be closed until July 30.

On the inner loop, the Wilson Bridge project has finished work on the THRU lanes, but continues paving the LOCAL lanes between Route 1 and the Eisenhower Connector. Only one LOCAL lane is open until paving is complete July 9.

17th Street at Mall

The National Park Service is setting up a new work zone for the levee construction project on 17th Street at the Mall. For the next two months, both southbound lanes on 17th Street between Constitution and Independence avenues will be closed to all traffic. The northbound lanes will be converted to one lane in each direction.

No work will be done July 3, 4 and 5, but the lane restrictions will be in place. The entire project is set to be completed late this year.

Fort Totten intersection

The District Department of Transportation plans to pave along South Dakota Avenue NE between Riggs Road and Kennedy Street on Monday, the last big phase in the $10 million reconstruction of the South Dakota Avenue/Riggs Road interchange into a more traditional four-way intersection. The project began in early 2010.

The transportation department expects that the new configuration will be safer for drivers, walkers and cyclists and will provide a more suitable environment for neighborhood development.

Metro Rush Plus

We begin our second week with Metrorail’s new schedule for the Orange, Blue and Yellow lines at the height of rush hour. Last week, many Blue Line riders complained about the gaps between trains. Some wondered whether they would be better or worse off if they boarded a Yellow Line train instead. Mark Berman and I did a test run, comparing trips on the two lines during the morning Rush Plus service.

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel

As you drive either to or through Baltimore this summer, avoid I-895 and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, site of a big construction project. Instead, use I-95 and the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

The lane closings for preservation work on the steel bridge deck south of the Harbor Tunnel could add an hour to trips during peak times. The work began this week and will continue into early fall.

Dulles Access Highway

The Dulles Metrorail project is continuing the overnight closings on the eastbound Dulles Access Road to finish building the rail bridge. The eastbound lanes will be closed from Centreville Road (Route 657) in Herndon to the merge past the main toll plaza from 11 p.m. Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Traffic will be detoured onto the eastbound Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) at Centreville Road. Drivers will have to pay the toll at the main toll plaza.

Eastern Shore paving

The Maryland State Highway Administration is paving a mile and a half of eastbound Route 50 from Rockawalkin Road to the western end of the Salisbury Bypass in Wicomico County. The work is scheduled to be done by the end of the week.

Crews will close a single lane as needed Mondays through Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they won’t work Fridays because of the heavy summer traffic.

Fare increases coming

Metro and the Fairfax Connector bus system will increase their fares on Sunday.

One of the biggest changes is the increased surcharge on rides paid for with paper Farecards. Metro has been very successful in getting riders to adopt the plastic SmarTrip cards. It wants to be more successful. So Metro will impose a $1 surcharge on paper Farecard rides.

Most stations have SmarTrip sales machines, though some, unfortunately, will not have them until September.

Still, you can look for them at stations where the most paper cards get sold. That includes Foggy Bottom, Union Station, Smithsonian and Rosslyn. SmarTrip cards cost $5.

You can use the regular fare vending machines to add the value of old paper cards to your new SmarTrip. Limit for each transfer: $20.

Metro weekend work

From 10 p.m. Friday through Metrorail’s midnight closing Sunday, free shuttle buses will replace trains between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton on the Orange Line and between Stadium Armory and Benning Road on the Blue Line. Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover, New Carrollton stations will be closed.

By  |  09:40 AM ET, 06/25/2012

Categories:  Commuting, Metro, Capital Beltway, Construction | Tags:  DC transportation, Virginia Department of Transportation, District Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation, Wilson Bridge, Capital Beltway

 
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