If completion of the Dulles Metrorail project’s first construction phase goes smoothly, and if Metro’s testing of the system is equally trouble-free, transit riders may take their first trips on the Silver Line by the end of this year.
The new line will provide a transit alternative for many commuters and help focus development in Tysons, making this one of the transportation highlights of the still-young century. But it will bring disruptions that also must be studied by planners and politicians.
Accommodating the Silver Line will bump more trains from the Blue Line and reduce Orange Line service between Vienna and East Falls Church. Some bus routes that connect with the Orange Line stations will move to the Silver Line. Will commuters be willing to modify their behavior as service shifts?
11th Street Bridge
The construction of the 11th Street Bridge’s three spans over the Anacostia River and the ramps that connect them to various roadways will be completed. Many commuters will be learning how to best use the new freeway connections, while others will explore new neighborhood-to-neighborhood links across the bridge’s local span.
Meanwhile, this winter, the D.C. Department of Transportation will complete the shutdown of the Southeast Freeway segment just west of Barney Circle so that work can continue on raising the roadway and converting it into a boulevard, with links to the adjacent communities. That work will continue all year.
Wilson Bridge project
A project that involved not only rebuilding and widening the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over the Potomac River but also reconstructing four adjacent interchanges is substantially done, but project managers have until June to wrap up the remaining work.
Commuters already are experiencing most of the changes wrought by the project, but its formal completion will remind the D.C. region that it is possible for jurisdictions to cooperate on major transportation improvements. Perhaps it also will remind the area that the bridge was designed so two lanes could serve as transit ways, an option still available.
Construction also will continue on the biggest new road project in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland. The Intercounty Connector extension from Interstate 95 to Route 1 and the extended merge lanes along I-95 got underway in 2012 and are scheduled to be done in 2014. The work has not been very disruptive for commuters, but watch the speed cameras in the I-95 part of the work zone.
The Maryland Transportation Authority, which operates the state’s toll roads, is scheduled to decide this winter whether to raise the 55 mph speed limit to 60 mph following a lengthy traffic safety study.