After Labor Day, drivers face 'Terrible Traffic Tuesday,' AAA says

Inner and outer loop traffic on the Beltway near Georgia Avenue.
Inner and outer loop traffic on the Beltway near Georgia Avenue. (Mark Gail - Washington Post)
By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How about if everyone takes Tuesday off? What, you say you can't? Then join the crowd -- of about 1.5 million people in the Washington area who plan to drive to work alone after celebrating the traditional end to summer on Labor Day.

The respite from obscene traffic congestion in July and August is over, a fact punctuated by the dawn of what AAA Mid-Atlantic likes to call "Terrible Traffic Tuesday."

"When the alarm clock sounds Tuesday morning, commuters will once again face a mind-numbing, soul-robbing surge in gridlock for the first time in months," said AAA spokesman John B. Townsend II. "Many of them will drive alone in bumper-to-bumper traffic, along with thousands of school buses transporting nearly a million students, including those heading to school on the Virginia side of the Potomac for the first time."

Townsend says half of the region's 3 million workers will drive to work alone.

AAA has joined transportation planners in encouraging commuters to help avert gridlock.

"We are poised to help guide commuters into trying and using great alternatives to driving alone to and from work during this increase in traffic congestion when people are back from vacations and schools are back in session," said Nicholas W. Ramfos, director of Commuter Connections. "Commuters who use alternatives like carpooling, transit and bicycling may find they save money and time and feel less stressed."

The return of the masses to work will coincide with resumption of roadwork that took the holiday weekend off.

On Interstate 495, construction will resume on high-occupancy toll lanes along a 14-mile corridor from the Springfield interchange to the Dulles Toll Road, with a major shift of four lanes Friday as a new bridge opens over Route 50.

Another big move in that project will take place overnight starting Wednesday, when I-495 southbound will close starting 9:30 p.m. at Interstate 66 as the old I-66 eastbound bridges over the Capital Beltway are demolished. Those overnight closings are expected to last two weeks.

The Maryland State Highway Administration also has scheduled a busy week of highway repair.

In Montgomery County, there will be work on Good Hope Road, on Route 124 between Airpark Road and Rosewood Manor Lane, and on Route 355 between Montrose and Old Georgetown roads.

In Prince George's County, there will be multiple overnight closures on portions of Interstate 95. There also will be daytime lane closures on Route 301 as rehabilitation of the Route 214 bridge continues.

Commuters in Georgetown will find they now can make a left turn from M Street onto northbound Wisconsin Avenue. The "no left turn" restriction has been removed, replaced with a left-turn arrow.

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