Meanwhile, the work environment for road crews amounts to a crawl space. They’re out there behind orange barrels and cones, trying to keep the traffic flowing as they do their jobs while trying not to raise so much of a racket that they bother the thousands living in apartments and townhouses nearby.
This is what they’re doing and why.
Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) was built in the 1930s as a four-lane divided highway. Then interchanges were added at 10th Street and Courthouse Road on the south side of Rosslyn, and the road was widened to six lanes.
The interchanges are close together, and the merge lanes are short. Drivers entering on the westbound side can’t get up much speed, but at least they’re approaching the travel lanes from the right-hand side. The drivers entering on the eastbound side merge with the left travel lane. So they’re attempting to reach highway speed while looking for traffic over their right shoulders.
Untangling this mess has been a transportation priority in Arlington County for more than a decade, and the county has been working with the Virginia Department of Transportation on a plan that now has become a $39 million project.
“This will be better,” Mel Harvey assured me as we looked over thick books of plans for Arlington Boulevard and the interchanges. Harvey is the VDOT construction engineer responsible for the project, which began last year.
When it’s all done in fall 2013, the rebuilt interchanges and boulevard will be safer and easier to drive and have more traffic-moving capacity, Harvey said. Unfortunately, they’ll still have those left-hand entrances on the eastbound side, but along with the other ramps, they should be lengthened to the point that drivers will have a much easier time getting on and off the boulevard.
The bridges over westbound Arlington Boulevard at 10th Street and Courthouse Road will be replaced. Acceleration and deceleration lanes will be added and separated from the main road.
Intersections controlled by traffic signals will provide access from eastbound Arlington Boulevard to 10th Street and Courthouse Road. Ramps will provide access from westbound Route 50. A “T” intersection, with signals, will control access from both directions of Fairfax Drive to the Courthouse Road ramp.
A bike path will be added to eastbound Arlington Boulevard between Pershing Drive and Rolfe Street. The westbound trail will be moved and extended under the 10th Street bridge.