New traffic pattern at Northern Virginia interchange

December 18, 2013


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[This post has been updated.]

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced that it will postpone till January a traffic pattern change for Columbia Pike drivers heading east to Interstate 395.

The change had been set for Thursday, but VDOT officials announced Wednesday morning that they needed more time to work on the traffic signals. No specific date for the switch was set. The new pattern will be part of the long-term reconstruction of the Washington Boulevard bridge over Columbia Pike in Arlington County.

The bridge project, which began in spring 2012, is scheduled to be finished in summer 2015. The new bridge will be wider and longer than the current structure, built in 1949. It will also have a merge lane between ramps on the westbound side so drivers will have an easier time accelerating and decelerating. The project also will result in a wider sidewalk  and a 10-foot shared-use path on Columbia Pike. Clearance under the bridge will be increased to a height that could accommodate a streetcar along Columbia Pike.

The Washington Boulevard/Columbia Pike interchange is just west of I-395, the Pentagon and the approaches to the 14th Street Bridge into D.C., one of the most congested zones in the region for commuters.

The change on Columbia Pike, now scheduled for January, will replace a right-side ramp with a left-turn lane at a signal at South Quinn Street for traffic going to I-395 North. Traffic heading to I-395 South will go past the light and continue to use the ramp on the right.

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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