This version of what is getting to be a frequently asked question came in during my online chat Monday:
“Route 50 westbound, right before Fort Myer, has been down to two lanes since ... well, it feels like forever. Are we going to see some relief at this site some time soon? What looks like a piping project should not have taken this long.”
That’s the utility relocation for a much larger and much needed rebuilding of Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) between Courthouse Road and 10th Street that has been discussed for many years.
This is where the entrances to Route 50 are very close together and the merges are very short. See a pdf image. The configuration slows Route 50 commuters to a crawl and makes it very difficult — on a good day — for drivers to get onto the roadway. It’s also is a tough area for bike and pedestrian traffic.
This month, the Virginia Department of Transportation will be setting up barriers and moving in equipment for the $39 million reconstruction. Drivers who have been dealing with lane closings during the utility relocation will begin to see the traffic impacts of the interchange construction in mid-May, but no daytime lane closings are scheduled..
The work will be done from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., minimizing the effects on commuters. But at night, says VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord, watch for traffic shifts and single-lane closings on Route 50.
Construction, by the Flippo Construction Co., is scheduled to continue until fall 2013. During several time periods along the way, detours will be required to accommodate these construction closures:
* The northbound ramp to Courthouse Road will be closed, along with the tie-in of Fairfax Drive to westbound Route 50
* Fairfax Drive will close between Courthouse Road and Scott Street
* The ramp from southbound 10th Street to eastbound Route 50 and Fairfax Drive will close.
* Traffic will be detoured during demolition of the Courthouse Road bridge over Route 50.
There’s no schedule available yet for these road and ramp closings, but they will be announced well in advance, and we’ll have them here.
When the project is done, the big benefit for drivers will be the new ramps, making the merge to and from Route 50 much easier. But the project also will replace the Courthouse Road and 10th Street bridges over Route 50 and create a “T” intersection with a traffic signal at Fairfax Drive to allow two-way traffic access to the Courthouse Road ramp.
A bicycle trail will be placed eastbound on Route 50 from Pershing Drive to Rolfe Street. The trail on the westbound side will be relocated to parallel the new acceleration and deceleration lane and will be extended under the 10th Street bridge.
The two bus stops on westbound Route 50 will be consolidated into one stop.