The weekend forecast offers decent prospects for travelers who plan to see the cherry blossoms, visit Nationals Park or enjoy the D.C. region’s numerous springtime events, such as the annual Persian American festival at Black Hill Regional Park in Montgomery County. Still, temperatures will remain on the cool side and there is a chance of rain Saturday. Metro hasn’t scheduled any track work for this weekend or next because of the Cherry Blossom Festival and other events. But there are some construction activities on the roads. Here’s a review of travel issues for the weekend and beyond.
Cherry Blossom Festival
Saturday: Fireworks scheduled for 8:30 p.m. 600 Water St. SW, on the Southwest Waterfront. Nearest Metro, Waterfront.
Sunday: Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, 7:40 to 11:30 a.m.; starts on 15th Street and Jefferson Drive NW, near the Washington Monument. Route includes Independence Avenue, Memorial Bridge, Rock Creek Parkway to Kennedy Center, Ohio Drive. Metro opens at 5 a.m. Nearest station, Smithsonian on the Orange and Blue lines. No parking in East or West Potomac parks.
Metrorail will open two hours early, at 5 a.m., for the participants and spectators in the run and the 5K Run-Walk. Nearest station, Smithsonian.
April 10: The Blossom Kite Festival, postponed last weekend because of the potential for bad weather, has been rescheduled for Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Constitution Avenue and 17th Street NW, near the Washington Monument. Nearest Metro, Farragut West on the Orange and Blue lines.
On the first weekend of the baseball season, the Nats play the Braves at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and 7:05 p.m. Sunday. The closest Metro station is Navy Yard on the Green line. Parking is free on weekends at Metro lots and garages. Note the item below about work on the 14th Street Bridge. See some travel tips here.
14th Street Bridge shift
The reconstruction of the four-lane northbound span on the 14th Street Bridge is moving into its next phase this weekend. On Monday, commuters will find about half of the left center lane on the north end of the bridge is blocked off. The travel lanes will shift around this new island of construction. Drivers heading for northbound 14th street into downtown Washington will need to pay particular attention to this and proceed cautiously.
Their best bet is to be in the far left lane. But if they approach the new work zone from either of the two left lanes, they won’t need to change lanes to reach 14th Street. Traffic will split around the construction island. Both of those left lanes still will have access to 14th Street beyond the work zone. Until drivers get used to this new pattern, be alert for some slow going, heavy braking and maybe a little trick driving ahead of you.
I-395 drivers approaching the northbound span in the far left lane who intend to continue I-395 (Southeast-Southwest Freeway) after the bridge should move right as soon as it’s safe, because they will now have a shorter distance to make that transition. The bridge’s three right lanes will have access to the freeway.
Northbound drivers on the George Washington Parkway who take the exit for the northbound 14th Street Bridge also will need to pay attention to this change. They are likely to encounter extra congestion on the bridge, and I think the third lane from the right will be particularly slow as they merge left to reach 14th Street.
Weekend setup: This is the part that Nats fans need to pay attention to as they head for Saturday and Sunday games. The staging work to shift the construction zone out of the far left lane and into this new island in the left center lane will occur from 10 p.m. Friday though 5 a.m. Monday. Three lanes of traffic will be available through the weekend. The fourth lane will be restored before the Monday morning rush.
This new phase, the sixth of eight construction phases, is scheduled to last six to eight weeks. All the reconstruction work on the bridge deck surface is scheduled to be done this fall.
The Wilson Bridge project has scheduled some major work for this weekend near the Beltway’s Telegraph Road interchange.
The Beltway’s outer loop will be narrowed to one lane between the Eisenhower Connector and just east of the Telegraph Road interchange from Friday night through mid-morning Saturday. The closing will create a safety zone so workers can shift and reconfigure the THRU/LOCAL lane split.
Starting at 8 p.m. Friday, the right LOCAL lane of the outer loop will close, leaving one LOCAL and one THRU lane open. The ramps to the outer loop from Telegraph Road North and South also will close at this time. Drivers who want to reach the outer loop from Telegraph Road should take Huntington Avenue east to the Route 1 ramp for the outer loop.
Starting around midnight, the right LOCAL lane will reopen and the left LOCAL lane and the THRU lane will close, restricting traffic to the single right-hand LOCAL lane. There will be no access to the THRU lanes during this time. Traffic will be restricted to a single lane until mid-morning April 2, when the second LOCAL lane will reopen. All lanes and traffic movements will be fully restored by mid-day Saturday, when the THRU lane and the two on-ramps from Telegraph Road North and South reopen.
The new traffic pattern will require drivers who use the center lane to take the LOCAL lanes. They won’t have the option to choose between LOCAL and THRU lanes. Project managers say this configuration will allow for smoother and safer navigation of the outer loop’s THRU/LOCAL lane split at the Telegraph Road interchange. It will eliminate abrupt merging of vehicles from the Telegraph Road ramps onto the Beltway. At the same time, it will provide easier full-time access for work on the inner loop’s THRU lanes, eliminating the need for day-time left lane closures in the three-lane area of the outer loop.
This THRU/LOCAL lane split configuration will be in place until the summer, the project management says. In the next construction phase, the split will be shifted east onto new pavement and the middle lane of the outer loop will again split to both the THRU and LOCAL lanes.
Weekend work on NY Avenue
Construction at the 9th Street NE Bridge Project will require closing the right inbound lane on New York Avenue NE under the bridge. The closing began after the Friday morning rush hour so that a new concrete pavement base can be poured and cured. The lane will reopen by 6 a.m. Monday.
Festival in Boyds
The annual Persian-American festival, Sizdeh Bedar, is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Black Hill Regional Park in the Boyds section of western Montgomery County. To manage traffic and crowds, police may temporarily close the Black Hill Regional Park entrance at West Old Baltimore Road. The road itself will not be closed. No parking or pedestrian traffic will be allowed on it. Park Police have established a hotline number for any questions or concerns on Sunday: 301-528-3469.
Route 7 in Tysons Corner
The shifting of the northbound lanes that had been scheduled for Thursday night was postponed till Sunday night. Workers on the Dulles Metrorail project will be moving the westbound lanes between Route 123 and Westpark Drive slightly north to allow construction of the west end of the tunnels from Route 123.
The lane shift now is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. It will require closing the right and
center lanes, leaving only the left lane open. At about 2 a.m. Monday, the left and center lanes will close and traffic will be directed to use the newly opened right lane. All work is scheduled to be done by 7 a.m. Monday.
Drivers in Virginia should should expect delays merging from Route 123 south to I-95 south for six weeks in April and May. The Virginia Department of Transportation will be extending the acceleration lane to create a safer merge area.
Starting Sunday, workers will shift and narrow the ramp from Route 123 (Gordon Boulevard) south to southbound I-95 to accommodate construction of the longer acceleration lane. Construction will continue through May 13, when crews will close this on-ramp and one lane of I-95 south for an entire weekend.
Reston lot closing
The remaining spaces at the Reston East Park and Ride on Wiehle Avenue in Fairfax County will be closed off Sunday to make way for construction of the parking garage that will serve the new Metrorail line.
As Reston East closes, the Sunset Hills Park and Ride is scheduled to open. This new, temporary lot is at the corner of Sunset Hills Road and Town Center Parkway. Fairfax Connector bus Route 505 and a new Route 555 can provide service from Sunset Hills to West Falls Church Metro station.
Also starting Sunday, Connector routes 505, 551, 552, 554 and 557 will change slightly, bypassing Reston East and going directly to and from the West Falls Church Station.
What was once an 820 space lot for commuters at Reston East has been shrinking for months now, pending this final closing. The Sunset Hills lot will remain open until the 2,300-space garage for the new Wiehle Avenue rail station opens, which could be in late 2013 or early 2014. Wiehle Avenue will be the temporary terminus for the new line, which eventually will continue on to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County. Only Wiehle Avenue and the outer stations in phase 2 will have commuter parking. The inner stations at Tysons Corner are designed primarily for access by foot, bike and bus.