The week ahead: More Silver Line work, some new traffic patterns


Testing of the waterproofing at the Greensboro station on Route 7 in Tysons produced a reflection off the ceiling of the new Silver Line station. (Yasmine Doumi/Dulles Metrorail project)

Commuters will encounter more rain through Monday, followed by a bit of a break Tuesday, then more showers from late Wednesday into Thursday before things get more stable, the Capital Weather Gang says.

The Nationals are away all week. D.C. United plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, and also at 7 p.m. Saturday in RFK Stadium. Here are some other things commuters should know for the week ahead. (And join me at noon for our weekly online discussion of traffic and transit issues in the D.C. region.)

HIGHLIGHTS: Worst traffic | Metro delays | 11th Street Bridge | Silver Line work | D.C. streetcars | Silver Line work | Dulles highway hearing

Worst a.m. traffic spots

The worst traffic spots for morning highway commuters occur where there’s high volume, or a narrowing of lanes, or road work — sometimes all three.

These were the worst spots on Monday between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m.: The inner loop of the Capital Beltway approaching the Wilson Bridge, the Interstate 95/Beltway interchange in Silver Spring, the Beltway’s outer loop to Georgia Avenue, Suitland Parkway/I-295/D.C.295 to the 11th Street Bridge, the area around the junction of Maryland Route 50 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and I-66 in spots.

The rain made the commute worse for many drivers, but the really troubled stretches tend to be the same, day after day, and probably will be bad for many more years.

Metro weeknight schedule

It’s more difficult to narrow down trouble spots on the five Metro lines. The west sides of the Red and Orange lines tend to be the most crowded. Equipment problems have disrupted service on all lines during rush hours this spring, but the Red Line seems to have had the most spectacular disruptions.

Weeknight service will be affected by Metro’s extensive rebuilding program. These are the times and places for track-sharing around work zones. In those areas, riders are likely to experience delays of about 10 minutes, the transit authority said.

  • Red Line. After 8 p.m., trains will share a track between Dupont Circle and Van Ness. After 10 p.m., trains will share a track between Takoma and Forest Glen..
  • Blue Line. After 8 p.m., trains will share a track between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street. (This shouldn’t affect Yellow Line service in that area.)
  • Orange Line. After 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, trains will share a track between East Falls Church and West Falls Church.
  • Blue and Orange lines. After 10 p.m., trains will share a track between Federal Center SW and Eastern Market.
  • Green and Yellow lines. After 10 p.m., trains will share a track between U Street and Georgia Avenue.

Eighth Street lane closings

For the 11th Street Bridge project, the District Department of Transportation is closing the southbound lane of Eighth Street SE between Virginia Avenue and I (Eye) Street on Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The northbound traffic lane will remain open.

DDOT also plans to close all lanes of Eighth Street in that area from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The closings will create a work zone for demolition of the bridge over Eighth Street, so a new ramp can be built to the eastbound freeway.

Southbound traffic on Eighth Street will be detoured onto I Street, then to Seventh Street, reaching Eighth Street again via Virginia Avenue. Northbound traffic on Eighth Street will follow a detour to Seventh Street and then to G Street to get back to Eighth Street.

11th Street Bridge

The opening of two more ramps at the 11th Street Bridge had little effect on traffic congestion along nearby freeways during the past week. I held out hope that making it easier to get to and from the bridge’s local span might ease the burden on the inbound freeway span.

It’s still possible that as more drivers bound for the Navy Yard, Capitol Hill and Nationals Park areas realize that they have the option to use the local span, traffic distribution will improve. The best bet for relief remains the completion — in summer 2014 — of the freeway construction on the Navy Yard side of the Anacostia River, which will eliminate some of the lane weaving on the bridge that is the main source of the congestion.

Dulles Metrorail project

Travelers along the route of the Silver Line in Northern Virginia will encounter lane closings this week as construction continues. The project’s target is to finish the first phase of the new Metrorail line this fall.

Work continues on the five new stations, but the biggest impact on drivers involves lane closings on Routes 7 and 123, Tysons Boulevard, and nearby streets for paving, lane alignment and sidewalk installation. Here are a few things to watch for.

  • Late-night lane closings on eastbound Interstate 66 between Great Falls Street and Route 267 for removal of traffic barriers and installation of guardrails.
  • Late-night work on the Wiehle-Reston East station pedestrian bridges, requiring lane closings on both sides of the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Access Highway near Wiehle Avenue.
  • Extensive milling and paving on northbound Route 123 overnights, closing lanes between from just south of Old Meadow Road to Colshire Drive, as well as the two left turn lanes from Route 123 north to Scott Crossing.
  • Grading and traffic signal work near the Tysons Corner station, closing lanes on Route 123 South at off-peak times. (Tysons Boulevard and Galleria Drive also will have lane closings this week.)
  • Installation of foundations for light poles, sidewalks and traffic signals, plus road work and pedestrian bridges construction, requiring off-peak lane closings on both sides of Route 7 and on some of the intersecting streets.

Leesburg intersection

The Virginia Department of Transportation has permanently removed the traffic signal on the Route 7/15 Bypass at Sycolin Road in Leesburg, and traffic on the bypass will no longer have access to Sycolin Road.

Traffic heading for the Leesburg Executive Airport, Loudoun County’s Philip Bolen Park, the Loudoun County voter registration office and other points in southeast Leesburg from the bypass will be routed via the Dulles Greenway or Route 7 to Battlefield Parkway.

A map showing the new traffic pattern is at www.loudoun.gov/sycolinroad.

The intersection was closed to accommodate construction of an overpass, which is scheduled to open in August 2014. When the overpass opens, it will restore traffic flow on Sycolin Road between Gateway Drive and Hope Parkway, but there still will be no access to Sycolin Road from the bypass or to the bypass from Sycolin Road.

D.C. streetcar work

Construction of the D.C. streetcar line restricts traffic on Benning Road NE between Oklahoma Avenue and the Metro overpass. Workers are installing foundations for the overhead lines to power the streetcars.

The construction, which will last a few weeks, also will close the sidewalks periodically.

Metrobus X1, X2 and X3 stops on the south side of Benning Road just west of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail will be unavailable temporarily. Use the next stop on Benning Road, at 34th Street NE. Between Oklahoma Avenue NE and the Metro overpass, eastbound Benning Road traffic will be reduced to one lane. Left turns and U-turns will not be permitted in the work zone.

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.

Dulles Access Highway hearing

The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday on the potential location for an access highway between Routes 50 and 606 on the west side of Dulles International Airport. The location is of great concern to people who live in those Loudoun County neighborhoods.

The format will differ from last week’s big public meeting in Prince William County on the Bi-County Parkway proposal, where people took the microphone and talked. The Thursday session is a public hearing, in which people can write out their comments or have them taken down by a court reporter. They also can speak about the project with Virginia Department of Transportation staffers.

The hearing location is Creighton’s Corner Elementary School, 23171 Minerva Dr., Ashburn.

New speed camera

For vacationers going to and from Deep Creek Lake in Western Maryland: The Maryland State Highway Administration has begun a rehabilitation project on several bridges along Interstate 68 on the west side of Cumberland.

Driving the interstate through Cumberland is always difficult. There are plenty of signs warning motorists to slow down, but the work zone makes that more imperative. As an added incentive, speed-enforcement cameras will monitor eastbound traffic in the area, starting Monday. Through June 30, the cameras will issue only warnings. Starting July 1, vehicles going at least 12 miles over the 55 mph speed limit will be subject to $40 fines.

Metro weekend work

This is the big project for this coming weekend: From 10 p.m. Friday through the rail system’s midnight closing Sunday, free shuttle buses will replace trains between Rhode Island Avenue and Forest Glen. The Brookland, Fort Totten, Takoma and Silver Spring stations will be closed. At Fort Totten, the closing affects the Red Line platform only. Crews will be working on the communications system, rails and joints.

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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