Many transportation projects vie for travelers’ attention in congested Washington region

Robert Thomson
Columnist January 15

The region’s top transportation stories for 2014 are the start-up of the Metro Silver Line and the D.C. streetcar, Metro’s fare increases and the transit rebuilding program, the addition of bike lanes, the completion of toll highways and the rebuilding of interchanges and bridges.

But there’s plenty more going on this year. Here’s a look at the runner-up category.

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. View Archive
The District

South Capitol Street project. The Douglass Bridge over the Anacostia River is going to be replaced, and South Capitol Street will be transformed into an urban boulevard. District Department of Transportation spokesman Reggie Sanders said a construction contract should be awarded this year. The first phase of construction is scheduled to start next year.

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail segment. The trail’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment is scheduled to start construction in the first quarter of this year and take about 20 months to complete. This four-mile stretch will connect Benning Road in the District with the waterfront park in Bladensburg, Prince George’s County. It’s a missing link in a 60-mile regional trail network, and it could help make bike commuting easier.

Rhode Island Avenue pedestrian bridge. Red Line riders get the best view of this project as they pass through the Rhode Island Avenue station. A pedestrian bridge is now under construction and scheduled to be done early this year. It will create a safe, direct link between the Metro station and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, as well as providing easier access to the community for people with disabilities, Sanders said.


A weekend afternoon in the fall where Route 29 intersects Linton Hall Road in Gainesville, Va. The site is now under construction, which will continue through the year, to put Linton Hall Road over the route. (Evelyn Hockstein /For The Washington Post)

CSX/Virginia Avenue. CSX has requested that the District Department of Transportation allow the temporary closing of the Southeast Freeway ramp on Eighth Street SE to create space for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project. This request will also require approval by the Federal Highway Administration. DDOT is working with the FHWA to prepare an environmental impact statement on the reconstruction of the rail tunnel.

Maryland

University Boulevard bridge at the Beltway. The bridge deck replacement and rehabilitation affects traffic on two major commuter routes. Although the project began in the summer, the effects — orange cones and lane closings — became more pronounced as the work advanced. And there’s still a long way to go. Full completion is scheduled for spring 2015. Meanwhile, watch for temporary traffic shifts on University Boulevard and the Capital Beltway.

Route 355 at Cedar Lane. This intersection improvement project of adding turn lanes and through lanes is scheduled to start in the spring and be done in fall 2015. The Cedar Lane intersection is on the northwest corner of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the project is one of several meant to ease traffic stemming from the federal base consolidations. The work is likely to have a moderate to heavy effect on traffic, said David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Interstate 370 between Interstate 270 and Route 355. This resurfacing project is scheduled to begin in early summer and be done by late fall. The single- and double-lane closings at off-peak hours probably will have a moderate effect on traffic. This is one of many resurfacing jobs the State Highway Administration plans for this year in Montgomery County. Among the other projects in Montgomery are on routes 355, 185 and 28.

The Beltway between Glenarden Parkway and Route 50. This moderate- to high-impact resurfacing project is underway in Prince George’s County and is scheduled to wrap up in the summer. Watch for single-lane closings in off-peak hours of the day and closings of one to three lanes overnights. (That’s the high-impact part.)

Route 29 between Seneca Drive and Route 175. This road-widening project in Howard County, financed with new revenue from the gas tax increase, is scheduled to begin in the summer and be done in the summer of 2017. The effect of lane closings on traffic will be moderate to heavy.

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 last year 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 this year 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.

Interstate 395 HOV ramp at Mark Center. There have been other projects designed to ease traffic on the interstate and on Seminary Road after the realignment of the federal base, 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.

Arlington Boulevard interchange. This large interchange reconstruction project at 10th Street and Courthouse Road in the Rosslyn area has had a big effect 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.

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