Times of Capital Beltway closures near Tysons Corner moved for holiday shoppers

Holiday shoppers swarm Tysons Corner.
Holiday shoppers swarm Tysons Corner.
By Kafia A. Hosh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2010; 8:21 PM

To make travel a little easier for holiday shoppers and retail workers, transportation officials are moving back planned road closures on the Capital Beltway near the region's largest mall in Tysons Corner.

Parts of the Beltway had been slated for night closures beginning at 9:30 p.m. this week so crews could install steel bridge beams as part of the high-occupancy toll lanes being built.

But representatives from Tysons Corner Center, where a movie theater, several restaurants and department stores are open later, raised concerns that the closures could create traffic jams during the holiday shopping season.

Closures will now occur in the early morning, except closest to Christmas and New Year's Day, when all lanes will remain open.

"We expect a lot of shoppers to be here during this time," said Cory Scott, Tysons Corner Center's property manager.

The mall will open earlier and close later from Friday to Dec. 23. Holiday hours are from 7 a.m. to midnight.

After the lane closures were announced last weekend, Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, met with officials from the HOT lanes project and Tysons Corner Center.

Bulova said the closures during the busy shopping season could affect businesses at Tysons Corner and pose safety issues for drivers trying to navigate detours and closed lanes late at night.

"Not only is it bad for business, it is also not safe and not good for our residents," she said.

Steve Titunik, spokesman for the HOT lanes project, said moving back the closures a few hours was a proper compromise.

"We've got a contract to get done, and yet we don't want to impact the shopping," he said.

Beltway lane closures will now begin after midnight and are as follows:

l All four lanes of Interstate 495 south at Route 7 and three lanes of I-495 north will be closed Friday morning between midnight and 5:30 a.m. The same lane closures will occur between 1 and 5 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

l Motorists will be directed to a detour on the Exit 47A ramp to Route 7 west, where they can cross over to Route 7 east to get back onto I-495 south. Police will be on-site to direct traffic, officials said.

l Beam work will fully close I-495 south at Interstate 66 from 1 to 5 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Motorists will be detoured to a route beginning with I-66 west to Nutley Street.

l To accommodate holiday travel, lane closures on the Beltway will be suspended from noon Dec. 23 through 9:30 a.m. Dec. 27 and again from noon Dec. 30 through 9:30 a.m. Jan. 3.

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