New traffic pattern at Northern Virginia interchange

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Drivers heading to Interstate 395 from eastbound Columbia Pike in Arlington County are dealing with a new traffic pattern that’s part of the long-term rebuilding of the Washington Boulevard bridge over the pike.

The traffic going to I-395 North now will turn left at the signal on South Quinn Street, the Virginia Department of Transportation said. At the top of the ramp, drivers bear right and merge onto Washington Boulevard. Traffic going to I-395 South will move straight through the light at South Quinn Street and use the ramp on the right. Watch for roadside message boards about the new pattern.

It will be like this for about eight to 12 months, VDOT said. The traffic switch originally was scheduled for December but was postponed.

Columbia Pike is scheduled to be closed both ways between South Queen Street and South Orme Street for the next three weekends. While traffic is detoured around the construction zone, workers will finish demolishing the old Washington Boulevard bridge. These weekend closings will to begin at 9 p.m. each Friday and continue till 4:30 a.m. Mondays. Traffic will be detoured around the work zone via the interchange ramps and temporary pavement.

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.

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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Robert Thomson · January 31