2010 to bring ICC milestone; labor pains drag on elsewhere

By Robert Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 3, 2010

The most dramatic planned event of 2010 involving the Washington region's transportation system is likely to be the partial opening of Maryland's Route 200, the long-awaited, long-debated Intercounty Connector.

But the workers on the connector and other high-impact transportation projects have months -- and in some cases, years -- of labor ahead before they and motorists will experience the completed projects.

Here's a look at the milestones and millstones travelers will encounter this year:

Intercounty Connector

The value and impact of the connector have been disputed for half a century, right through December, when the toll rates were set. The next debate is likely to focus on the impact on Montgomery County traffic when the first seven-mile segment opens between Interstate 270/370 and Georgia Avenue.

If it works as planners envision, it will ease congestion on the heavily traveled east-west secondary roads in the area. But some neighbors fear that opening only part of the highway will distort traffic patterns and at least temporarily add to congestion, particularly on Route 28.

HOT lanes

The construction on the western side of the Capital Beltway in Virginia was designed to minimize traffic disruptions by adding lanes on the outside of the two loops before converting the inner lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes. But the widening of the overpasses and bridges will continue to slow travel, especially at off-peak times.

The impact is most noticeable in Tysons Corner, where the HOT lanes construction at the Route 7 and Route 123 junctions affects driving to or through the commercial center of Northern Virginia.

After a holiday break, the left lane in each direction on Route 123 will again be shut for construction at the Beltway.

Dulles Metrorail

It's only just begun. The construction of the rail line to Wiehle Avenue in Reston will have its greatest impact along Route 7 in Tysons Corner.

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