The week ahead: Higher speeds in HOT lanes, Silver Line construction, Metrorail work


Drivers in the 495 Express Lanes will find the speed limit has gone up to 65 mph. (Robert Thomson – The Washington Post)

Travelers are in for a hot, humid week in the D.C. region, with chances of thunderstorms most days, the Capital Weather Gang says. Local traffic may also be starting to fall into its summer pattern, though many commuters still encounter congestion.

The Nationals are off Monday, but start a three-day series with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday at Nationals Park. On Wednesday, D.C. United plays a 7 p.m. game at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds. The Rolling Stones — definitely not free — are at the Verizon Center at 8 p.m. Monday.

The Going Out Guide has some recommendations for Free and Easy events this week. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival gets underway Wednesday on the National Mall.

Join me at noon for our weekly discussion of local traffic and transit issues.

HIGHLIGHTS: 495 Express Lanes | Traffic update | Late night Metro | Connecticut Avenue | Silver Line | 11th Street Bridge | Bay Bridge | Capital Crescent Trail

495 Express Lanes
The speed limit on the 495 Express Lanes along the west side of the Capital Beltway rose to 65 mph on Monday. The speed limit in the regular lanes remains 55 mph.

Travelers have been commenting on this during our recent online discussions. I think it’s fine to raise the speed limit. But I don’t recall seeing a vehicle going less than 65 mph in those lanes since they opened in November.

I find the new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes particularly helpful in getting around the Tysons traffic congestion. I still don’t know when I enter the toll lanes — maybe from the regular Beltway lanes north of the Dulles Toll Road or maybe from eastbound I-66 — whether there actually is congestion in Tysons, but that’s always a pretty good bet during the day.

Is it summer?
Trying to monitor where the worst morning highway traffic is, I noticed some shrinkage of the usual trouble spots during the past week.

What I look for between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. are the longest sustained stretches of slow-moving traffic displayed on traffic maps and in cameras. Last week’s trouble spots were the same as always, leading with Interstate 295, D.C. 295 and Suitland Parkway near the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River; the Beltway’s outer loop through Silver Spring; portions of I-395 north to the 14th Street Bridge, and portions of I-66 near Manassas, Route 50 and the Beltway.

But the badness looked less bad last week. Is the summer pattern finally showing up?

VRE speed restrictions
This week, CSX will work on tracks between L’Enfant and an area south of Woodbridge. While this won’t occur during Virginia Railway Express service hours, VRE warned rail commuters that there might be some lingering speed restrictions after the work is complete. And with temperatures above 90 on most afternoons, we may see some speed restrictions related to the heat.

Metro late-night schedule
Metro trains will be sharing tracks around work zones on all five lines late at night this week. Anticipate delays of about 10 minutes in these areas.

  • 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 Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield.
  • Blue, Orange lines. After 10 p.m., trains will share a track between Federal Center SW and Eastern Market.
  • Green, Yellow lines. After 10 p.m., trains will share a track between Georgia Avenue and Fort Totten.

Connecticut Avenue repaving
The Maryland State Highway Administration is resurfacing Connecticut Avenue between the Capital Beltway and Manor Road, west of the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Montgomery County. The project, meant to improve traffic flow along Connecticut Avenue in an area used by 67,000 vehicles a day, is scheduled to be done in late August.

Workers may close up to two lanes on Connecticut Avenue between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Saturday nights, and one lane from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. They also will be working on concrete bus pads and serviceways in this area.

Silver Line
The Dulles Metrorail project has extensive work underway along I-66 in the Falls Church area, Routes 123 and 7 through Tysons and on Route 267 west to the Silver Line’s phase one terminal at Wiehle Avenue. The goal is to complete construction by the fall. Following are a few highlights.

  • Interstate 66 East. Monday through Sunday nights, watch for overnight lane closings on eastbound I-66 between Great Falls Street and Route 267.
  • Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) West. The left lane between Magarity and Pimmit roads will be closed Monday through Saturday nights.
  • Dulles Access Highway. The left and right through lanes on both sides of the Dulles Access Highway will be closed during off-peak daytime hours on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Eastbound Dulles Toll Road. The right through lane between Reston Parkway and Wiehle Avenue will be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
  • Route 123. Grading work will close the right southbound lane at off-peak hours during the day between Scotts Crossing and the entrance ramp to the Beltway. Work on the Tysons Corner station canopy will close lanes overnights this week near Tysons Boulevard. Grading will close the right turn lane to International Drive. Other closings will occur on Tysons Boulevard and Galleria Drive.
  • Leesburg Pike (Route 7). Work on the Greensboro and Spring Hill stations, and on sidewalks and traffic signals, will result in day and night lane closings along Leesburg Pike in the Tysons area throughout the week. The closings also will affect roads that intersect with Route 7.

11th Street Bridge project
The District Department of Transportation plans to close M Street SE between 11th and 12th streets SE overnights Monday through Friday, then again June 30-31 and July 1-2 starting at 7 each evening till 5:30 the following morning. The closures will allow crews to complete bridge girder installations over M Street for a new freeway bridge.

I-295 South
DDOT also plans to close the right lane on southbound I-295 (Anacostia Freeway) between Suitland Parkway and Firth Sterling Avenue SE from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday to let contractors conduct soil survey work for the South Capitol Street Corridor improvements. Watch for temporary traffic control signs.

The westbound I-695 freeway bridge exit ramp to M Street SE, the new southbound D.C. 295 exit ramp to 11th Street SE and the northbound lanes of the 11th Street Bridge local span between Good Hope Road SE and O Street SE also will be closed during these hours.

Bay Bridge
The westbound span may be closed Monday through Thursday nights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. for maintenance work. Two-way traffic will operate on the eastbound span during the full westbound span closings. One lane of the westbound span may be closed Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Next Monday: The cash toll rate for two-axle vehicles will rise to $6.

Capital Crescent Trail
The National Park Service says its been making safety improvements to the Capital Crescent Trail’s Water Street entrance, because more cars have been parking along the area upstream of the Alexandria Aqueduct. Some of them have been driving on the trail while looking for the Beltway.

Improvements include installation of a bicycle-friendly gate on the Georgetown side of the aqueduct to prevent vehicles from driving upstream. Signs and striping will warn visitors as they approach the gate. The grassy area that used to exist in this area will be restored when the project is done, the park service says.

Pedaling professionally
Cycling enthusiasts have organized a Wednesday evening discussion called “Pedaling Professionally,” during which they will share tips for women commuting by bike to professional settings.

Malaika Abernathy of the D.C. Office of Planning will moderate a panel that will include Harriet Tregoning, director of the planning office; Delores Simmons, a law clerk with the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia; Elizabeth Lyttleton, a mentor in the Washington Area Bicyclists Association Women and Bicycles program; and Keya Chatterjee, who works with the World Wildlife Fund.

The session is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Petworth Library, 4200 Kansas Ave. NW.

Metro this weekend
No major project work is scheduled for this coming weekend. But many smaller projects will require trains to share tracks and result in schedule changes on all five lines. We’ll have full details in a follow-up posting on the blog.

 

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.
SECTION: {section=local, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=local, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=14, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments
Next Story
Mark Berman | June 21, 2013