D.C. area's road projects from bird's-eye view
Saturday, October 9, 2010; 7:28 PM
Despite severe limits on funding for road and transit projects, the D.C. area's transportation landscape is changing rapidly in 2010. Google Maps and Google Earth are treating their users in this region to unusually recent images - dated Aug. 29 - that convey this rapid evolution, as seen from above rather than from the lanes. Check out some of these highlights - before the scene changes again.
Tysons is the focal point for two of the biggest transportation projects in the nation. To the right, piers rise along Route 123 for the new Metrorail line to Dulles International Airport. The piers will take the line over the Capital Beltway, where work on high-occupancy toll lanes already has shifted the outer loop onto a new bridge - light-colored in the photo - above Route 123. That Beltway interchange and the one to the north at Route 267 are being rebuilt. Farther west on Route 123, work continues on a short tunnel. The rail line will emerge from the tunnel onto Route 7, where the median is expanding to accommodate a station.
The unfinished highway cuts a distinctive east-west line through Montgomery and Prince George's counties. The Intercounty Connector is a brand-new highway, rather than an expansion of an existing alignment, and it's easy to pick out from above. Interchanges with some of the north-south routes leading to Washington are under construction all along the route. On the right is the tie-in with Interstate 95. To the far left is the link with I-370, near the Shady Grove Metrorail station. That western section of the connector is scheduled to open late this year or early next.
Fairfax County Parkway
A two-mile extension eastward of the Fairfax County Parkway opened just last month, but work remains to be done on interchanges, including the interchange with I-95 in the right of the photo, that will help get thousands of federal workers to their new assignments at Fort Belvoir, where they are being redeployed under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. Meanwhile, construction has disrupted traffic patterns in the Newington community. Remaining construction is scheduled to take two more years. The area lacks transit service and is heavily dependent on its roadways.
Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes
The new bike lanes carved out of the median of Pennsylvania Avenue this year are part of a network of paths for cyclists that the District is developing. The photo shows a segment just north of the National Gallery of Art at Fourth Street NW. Many drivers were unhappy with the first version of the bike lane striping, which reserved the left lane in each direction for cyclists. The District decided it would be safer to limit cycling to the median. The revised version keeps new signals intended to protect cyclists and walkers from vehicles turning left.
Complete reconstruction of the bridge on the George Memorial Washington Parkway, just northwest of the 14th Street bridge, was originally scheduled to be done early this year. Project managers say it has been delayed until spring 2011 because of unforeseen problems with utilities, ground conditions and bad weather. The northbound side of the bridge was demolished this summer and is being rebuilt. The too-short ramp from the southbound 14th Street bridge to the northbound parkway also is being rebuilt. The old ramp is closed, and drivers are using a temporary ramp.