Beltway/I-66 interchange bottleneck to open up this weekend in Express Lanes work zone

A bottleneck for drivers on the Capital Beltway’s inner loop near Tysons Corner is about to open up.

The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to restore the fourth lane on Interstate 495 North at I-66 and open a fifth lane that will benefit drivers coming from I-66 East and heading for the inner loop’s exit to Route 7.

This is in the work zone for the 495 Express Lanes, also known as the high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Throughout the project, drivers have been shifted around as new work areas were required. But they’re starting to see some benefits, even though the project won’t be complete till the end of the year.

Earlier, a new flyover ramp allowed drivers from I-66 East to enter the Beltway inner loop on the right side, a much safer and smoother access point than the left-side entrance. But Beltway drivers approaching the interchange from farther south complained about the blockage of the inner loop’s fourth lane in that area.

That lane should be back in service and the fifth lane opened by 8 a.m. Saturday. This puts the inner loop lanes in their final alignment for the project.

To prepare for the change, workers will close three right lanes on the inner loop starting at 9:30 tonight. They are scheduled to remain closed until 8 a.m. Saturday.

The inner loop’s Exit 47 to Route 7 will be closed during the overnight work. Beltway drivers who want to reach Route 7 will be directed to continue north on the inner loop to Exit 46A for Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) South, then pick up the outer loop (I-495 South) for the trip back down to Exit 47.

The Route 7 ramps to the inner loop also will be closed. Traffic will be directed to International Drive, then will turn right onto Route 123 to reach I-495 North.

If bad weather prevents this work Friday, it will be rescheduled for Saturday night. But thousands of commuters should be benefiting from this new setup next week.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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