Tysons traffic, GW Parkway problems: Dr. Gridlock’s traffic and transit tips

Finish line in sight

For years, I’ve attended annual “Keep Tysons Moving” briefings for members of the Tysons Corner community. Virginia transportation officials explain the impact of some of the biggest transportation projects in the nation and advise people on how to deal with the disruptions.

Friday’s session was a bit different. The officials are starting to use phrases like, “as construction projects wind down.” The 495 Express Lanes are 98 percent done, and will open by the end of the year.

The first phase of the Dulles Metrorail project, which will bring the Silver Line through Tysons, is 80 percent done, and construction should be complete next summer. The gigantic trusses that were used to assemble the elevated railway have disappeared from the Tysons skyline.

Some officials said they hoped that commuter habits involving ride-sharing and teleworking that were developed to deal with years of travel disruptions won’t disappear when the building is done.

GW Parkway lane blocked

During my online chat Monday, travelers said they were concerned about the new work along the northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway, which has begun to back up traffic. It’s the next phase of a National Park Service project to shore up the rocks around Spout Run.

The project, managed by the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration, is scheduled to continue well into December. Workers will be drilling into the rocks and installing bolts to stabilize areas north and south of the Spout Run Parkway.

The left lane will be closed at all times. The others will be open for rush hours. But on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., only one northbound travel lane will be available. No night work has been scheduled, but drivers may find that the northbound lanes shrink down to one on weekends.

Although it’s best not to have rocks falling on drivers, the work sets up a long-term traffic problem. One commenter said during the chat that the left-lane closing backs up evening rush-hour traffic before Memorial Bridge and jams the Roosevelt Bridge.

HOV ramp closing

At the beginning of October, the ramp from the I-95 southbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes to the regular lanes south of the Fairfax County Parkway will close permanently. The Virginia Department of Transportation said this is being done to create room for construction of an additional travel lane for the 95 Express Lanes, the high-occupancy toll lanes project.

I-95 alternative

One of the worst commuter jams in the region occurs almost every weekday morning where the Capital Beltway’s outer loop meets up with southbound Interstate 95 in Maryland.

Southbound drivers on I-95 who are late for an appointment or just don’t feel like dealing with that awful congestion could consider taking the Intercounty Connector to Route 29, Layhill Road or Georgia Avenue to avoid the I-95/Beltway interchange.

The ICC tolls at peak are 70 cents to Route 29, $2.05 to Layhill Road and $2.60 to Georgia Avenue. (Warning: The ICC part of that dodge should work fine, but there’s still plenty of traffic on parts of Route 29 and Georgia Avenue.)

E-ZPass

This coming week is the last chance for drivers who open a new Virginia E-ZPass account to qualify for two toll-free weeks of travel on the 495 Express Lanes early next year.

The offer from the Express Lanes operator is part of a program to prepare drivers for the new lanes on the west side of the Beltway.

To be eligible for the toll-free weeks, drivers must sign up for the incentive by the end of September on the 495 Express Lanes Web site, www.495express lanes.com/offer, and open a Virginia E-ZPass account. The two weeks covered by the deal run Jan. 7-20.

For more transportation news, visit washingtonpost.com/transportation.

 
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