Virginia transportation projects to watch in 2014


Drivers who think the I-66 shoulders should be open longer to traffic are following VDOT’s active traffic management program. (Karen Bleier/AFP-Getty Images)

Nothing will top the opening of the Silver Line as an attention-getting development in the D.C. region’s transportation system during 2014, and that’s why I listed it No. 1 among my stories to watch in 2014. Still, most travelers in Northern Virginia won’t use it.

The commuting experience throughout the region is influenced by many projects big and small. Here are some of those that weren’t on my top 10 list, but will be very important in Northern Virginia.

Gainesville improvements. The roadwork underway along Route 29 just south of Interstate 66 is one of the biggest such programs in Virginia. One of the top regional transportation stories of 2013 was completion of the bridge separating heavily traveled Route 29 from the Norfolk Southern tracks, but there was much more to do. The Virginia Department of Transportation will continue construction through 2014 on the next phase, putting Linton Hall Road over Route 29 and the railroad tracks. The two phases should remove a bottleneck that has slowed drivers for many years.

I-395 HOV ramp at Mark Center. There have been other projects designed to ease traffic on the interstate and on Seminary Road following the federal base realignment, but this new link with the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes is the main event. Construction gets underway early this year, but isn’t scheduled to be done until spring 2016.

I-66 active traffic management program. This is one of the most interesting traffic programs in the region, but it didn’t make the top 10 list because it won’t be done till next year. I-66 drivers will see the gantries installed for new overhead signs between the Capital Beltway and Route 29 in Centreville.  The system of monitors, sensors and signs is designed to improve safety and traffic flow by getting more information to drivers about conditions ahead. One element winning approval from some of my letter-writers is the ability of the new system to control the times when the shoulder lanes can be open to through traffic.

Arlington Boulevard/10th Street/Courthouse Road interchange. This very large reconstruction project in the Rosslyn area has had a big impact on traffic since it began in 2011. But it should be done in mid-2014, and the driving experience should be much improved along this busy route. Besides making the interchange look a lot better, the work is adding acceleration and deceleration lanes that should reduce the heart-in-the-mouth experience for drivers as they enter and exit Arlington Boulevard.

Route 28 turn lanes at I-66. That interchange in Centreville vexes southbound drivers on Route 28 who must make a left turn to get onto I-66 East. There are two left turn lanes, but that’s not enough to handle the commuter traffic. This project, scheduled to be done in late spring, is extending the turn lanes so they can hold more traffic waiting for the light to change.

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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