The week ahead: Watch the weather as well as the roads

January 28, 2013
Capital Beltway traffic
While road work has slowed during the cold weather, drivers still will encounter some problem spots this week. (Mark Gail – The Washington Post)

After an icy morning commute for many travelers, the rest of the week could be “kind of nuts,” the Capital Weather Gang says. The temperature could climb above 60 degrees on Wednesday, possibly bringing gusts, showers and thunderstorms before plunging back to the 30s by the weekend.

Such volatile weather could throw off the limited schedule of road work on some weekdays and nights. Metro has a weekend project that’s likely to go ahead whatever the forecast.

Join me at noon Monday for our weekly discussion of travel issues in the D.C. area.

Route 50 detour

Drivers using eastbound Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) to and from Courthouse Road will encounter a new detour until August as the Virginia Department of Transportation rebuilds the Courthouse Road bridge. The work is part of the reconstruction of the Arlington Boulevard interchange with Courthouse Road and 10th Street, one of VDOT’s biggest construction projects in Northern Virginia.

Traffic heading east on the boulevard to Courthouse Road will be directed to the next exit after Courthouse Road, which will intersect with the Queen Street/Rhodes Street bridge. This intersection will be a four-way stop. Traffic will turn left onto Rhodes Street, then left onto 14th Street and continue to Courthouse Road.

Pentagon escalators

Metro plans to begin replacing three of the six escalators at the entrance to the Pentagon station this week. The ones to be replaced are on the left side as riders exit the station.

The other set of three will remain open during the project, as will the elevator. All the work is scheduled to be done this fall.

The project is similar to the replacements that occurred at the Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle stations. It’s more than the familiar tear up during one of the escalator modernization projects. Workers must haul out the old structures and bring in new ones.

The escalators to be replaced are 18-years-old and break down a lot. The manufacturer stopped making escalators and parts several years ago. Systemwide, the transit authority is moving away from its losing battle with fixing the old machinery and toward replacement projects.

Fairfax bus meetings

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation is starting public meetings to discuss the bus service proposal for connecting with the Silver Line. Commuters can attend any of the six meetings or participate in an Ask Fairfax! online chat at 10 a.m. on Feb. 5. Questions for the chat can be submitted starting Thursday at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/askfairfax.

Here’s the schedule for the meetings, all of which begin at 6:30 p.m. and are scheduled to end at 8:30 p.m.: Thursday, a discussion of McLean service at Dolley Madison Library, 1244 Oak Ridge Ave., McLean; Feb. 4, a discussion of Vienna service at Westbriar Elementary School, 1741 Pine Valley Dr., Vienna; Feb. 5, a discussion of Merrifield-Tysons service at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church; Feb. 6, a discussion of Herndon service at the Town Council Center, 765 Lynn St., Herndon; Feb. 7, a discussion of Reston service in the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, JoAnn Rose Library, 1609A Washington Plaza, Reston; Feb. 11, another Reston service discussion at Lake Anne Elementary School, 11510 North Shore Dr., Reston.

I-95 express lanes project

Pile driving for the 95 Express Lanes project is scheduled to continue into late February. Watch for construction activity on Russell Road near Quantico. This work, to support the foundations of the new express lanes bridge that will run above Russell Road in the median of Interstate 95, will occur Mondays  through Saturdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Drivers will encounter lane closings on Russell Road during the work. Add extra travel time when using Russell Road at I-95.

I-95/Intercounty Connector

Work continues in Prince George’s County to install steel for a new bridge over Interstate 95. Southbound drivers will encounter lane closings through Thursday night between Sandy Spring Road and the Intercounty Connector. Single-lane closings start at 7 p.m. By 11 p.m., two lanes will be closed. (I saw crews closing that second lane at 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.) Three lanes will be closed by midnight. Between midnight and 4 a.m., drivers may encounter complete southbound closings for up to half an hour. During those closings the ramps from Sandy Spring Road to I-95 also may be closed.

Traffic isn’t too bad with one or two lanes closed, but drivers want to avoid any further congestion by taking Route 1, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or Route 29 to get through that area.

D.C. streetcars

The District Department of Transportation, hoping to have the H Street/Benning Road streetcar line in operation by the end of the year, is continuing construction along the corridor. During January and February, that will include surveying, utility relocation and track work. This will require some temporary lane closings along the route.

Metro weekend work

The main event this weekend will be a maintenance project that splits the Blue and Orange lines. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Federal Center SW and Cheverly and Benning Road. The Capitol South, Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue, Stadium-Armory, Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations will be shut from 10 p.m. Friday through the train system’s midnight closing Sunday.

Use this link to see the full schedule of major track work through June.

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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Mark Berman | January 25, 2013