The week ahead: Plenty of road, rail work before Memorial Day rush


Crews work on aerial guideway while others prepare for sidewalk installation on westbound Route 7 in Tysons. (Dulles Metrorail Project photo by Chuck Samuelson)

Memorial Day weekend is coming up, and we expect traffic to be at its worst Friday afternoon and evening. The Nationals are away till Friday, when they begin a weekend series with the Phillies. D.C. United will be at RFK Stadium for a 7 p.m. Saturday game with the Portland Timbers.

Metrorail is working on all lines late at night and has several major maintenance programs scheduled for the long holiday weekend. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of road work across the D.C. region, though the highway crews will suspend operations for the great escape this weekend.

The Capital Weather Gang tells us to expect heat and humidity cresting at midweek with a cooling trend into the holiday getaway. There may be some showers and thunder along the way.

Here are some key things to watch out for this week. Join me at noon Monday for our weekly discussion of the D.C. region’s traffic and transit issues.

I’d like to get your opinions on my list of worst a.m. highway traffic spots for the spring, which I think have been fairly consistent (barring accidents, like the ones that seem to be plaguing I-95 in Stafford County): the Capital Beltway outer loop from College Park to Georgia Avenue, the junction of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, MD 50 and New York Avenue, Interstate 295 North and D.C. 295 South to the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River, Interstate 66 East in Fair Oaks, the George Washington Parkway from VA 120 to Rosslyn, I-395 near the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac.

There are always plenty of other trouble spots that can be intense, such as the Dulles Toll Road near the Beltway, but the distance is shorter than for the bottlenecks above.

HIGHLIGHTS: Metro nights | Silver Line | Arlington Boulevard | Laurel rest area | G.W. Parkway | New Hampshire Ave. | Weekend rail work

Metro weeknight delays
Maintenance will require Metro trains to share tracks on this schedule through Thursday.

After 8 p.m., Red Line trains will share a track between Dupont Circle and Van Ness. Delays should be about 10 minutes, Metro says. Orange Line trains will share a track between East Falls Church and West Falls Church, resulting in delays of about 10 minutes.

After 10 p.m., Red Line trains will share a track between Rhode Island Avenue and Takoma, with delays of about 10 minutes. Blue and Orange Line trains will share a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory. Delays will be about 10 minutes.
Green and Yellow Line trains will share a track between Mount Vernon Square and L’Enfant Plaza, with delays of about five minutes..

Silver Line construction

Travelers along the route of the Metro Silver Line may occasionally see rail cars on the tracks, but this is just testing. There’s still a lot of work to do before construction wraps up this fall. These are some of the most active spots.

The two left lanes of I-66 West will close Monday through Thursday nights from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. between Williamsburg Road and the Route 267 overpass. A lane will be closed onto a short stretch of I-66 just beyond Route 267. This is milling and paving, so watch for some rough road surfaces during the day.

Meanwhile, a final round of work continues along Routes 7 and 123 and nearby roads. Drivers will notice the sidewalk work along Route 7, as well as:

  • Pavement restoration on I-66, the Dulles Connector Road, the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Access Highway.
  • Lane closings on Routes 7 and 123, Tysons Boulevard and nearby streets for paving.
  • Closing of the left through lanes of the eastbound Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) between Magarity Road and Idylwood Road during the day for removal of temporary traffic barriers and shoulder work.
  • Work on the Wiehle-Reston East Station pedestrian bridges that requires closing the two left lanes on both sides of the Dulles Toll Road at off-peak hours. During the night, the closings will shift to the two right lanes in both directions.
  • Closings on both sides of the Dulles Access Highway for installation of ceiling panels at the Wiehle-Reston East Station and work on the pedestrian bridges.
  • Day and night closings at several spots along Route 7 and its intersecting roads in Tysons for installation of sidewalks and light pole foundations.
  • Lane closings on Route 123, Tysons Boulevard, International Drive and Galleria Drive for work on the pedestrian bridge at the Tysons Corner station.
  • Lane closings on Route 123 near Colshire Drive, Old Meadow Road, Capital One Drive, Scotts Crossing and Anderson Road for work on the McLean station and its pedestrian bridge.

Arlington Boulevard interchange
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to close lanes on both sides of Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) between 10th Street to North Rhodes Street for the long-term interchange rebuilding.

Monday through Thursday, the closings will occur on westbound Arlington Boulevard from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the eastbound side from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Friday, closings will occur on the westbound side from 6:30 a.m. to noon and on the eastbound side from 9 a.m. to noon.

Laurel rest areas
The Maryland State Highway Administration has finished paving the northbound I-95 rest area parking lots in Laurel. Crews now will start paving the southbound rest area lots, so the southbound welcome center will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday nights.

George Washington Parkway
George Washington Parkway bridges at Dead Run, Pimmit Run, a section near the CIA and at some other points along the northern part of the parkway are undergoing maintenance. The parkway will be open to traffic at all times, but there will be single lane closings off-peak on weekdays and sometimes during daylight hours on weekends. Some steel plates will be put over work areas. There will be no night work.

Route 4 bridges

The Maryland State Highway Administration is rebuilding a three-mile stretch of Route 4 (Pennsylvania Avenue) and replacing two old bridges over Route 223 (Woodyard Road) near Joint Base Andrews.

When the job is done, the westbound bridge will have two lanes, an acceleration lane for northbound Route 223 traffic and a four-foot-wide inside shoulder. The new bridge will have two lanes, a 10-foot outside shoulder and a 24-foot inside shoulder.

Watch for single-lane closings between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights.

This summer, crews will close the ramp from northbound Route 223 to eastbound Route 4 and create a detour. The entire project is scheduled to be done in fall 2015.

New Hampshire Avenue

In Takoma Park, the State Highway Administration is going to replace the bridge deck where New Hampshire Avenue crosses Sligo Creek. This one should be done in late 2014.

Crews are installing a temporary pedestrian bridge to maintain access to Sligo Creek Park during the project. The travel lanes on New Hampshire Avenue will be shifted. All the lanes will be open during rush hours, but drivers may find lanes closed during off-peak hours.

I-295 South
Through May 31, the right lane on southbound Anacostia Freeway (I-295) near Malcolm X Avenue SE may be closed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays.

Metro major track work
Two big projects are scheduled for the upcoming holiday weekend, starting at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing through the midnight closing next Monday.

Orange Line. Buses will replace trains between Ballston and Vienna for a switch replacement. The East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Dunn Loring and Vienna stations will be closed.

Red Line. Buses replace trains between Twinbrook and Shady Grove for communications upgrades and for rail tie and fastener maintenance. The Shady Grove and Rockville stations will be closed.

Metro short-trip pass

Metro riders can add the $35 seven-day “short trip” pass to their SmarTrip cards. Until now, the pass was available only as a paper card.

The pass is valid for seven days from its first use, expiring at the end of the seventh day. It’s good for unlimited Metrorail trips up to $3.50 during peak periods, hence the name “short trip.” The rider can take a longer, costlier trip, but must pay the difference.  At off-peak times, the pass is good for unlimited Metrorail trips of any value

Metro will stop selling the paper version of the “short trip” pass after May 31.

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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