As Backups Go, Fix Takes Beltway From Bad to Worse

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On Aug. 1, the Maryland State Highway Administration opened a new flyover ramp from the inner loop of the Capital Beltway to southbound Branch Avenue (Route 5). The new ramp was supposed to ease congestion and eliminate the difficult merge at the Branch Avenue/Beltway interchange.

However, conditions have been made worse.

Originally, the inner and outer loop ramps onto southbound Branch Avenue had separate merges. There used to be a line that formed at the offramp for Branch Avenue and spilled onto the shoulder of the inner loop. The queue would be about a quarter-mile long. There would be no delay on the outer loop.

Now, both loops have the same merge onto southbound Branch Avenue. Two ramp lanes from the Beltway have to form a single lane before merging onto Branch Avenue. This new bottleneck is causing major backups onto both loops.

This can be relieved by restriping the ramp to have both lanes merge onto Branch Avenue and to have a lane drop on Branch Avenue before the Beltway merge.

Sidney V. Elam Jr.

Upper Marlboro

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