The year ahead in D.C.-area transportation

By Robert Thomson and Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 1, 2011; 6:09 PM

Government revenue problems have dampened spending on transportation improvements in the D.C. region, yet some of the biggest road and rail projects in the nation will reach significant milestones in 2011, or at least have major effects on commuting patterns as their construction continues this year. We'll revisit some of them in more detail as the new year develops.

11th Street Bridge: The new bridge rising in the Anacostia River is the District's biggest transportation project, and several important developments are scheduled for 2011. This spring, a new segment of southbound DC 295 should open. Then in the fall, the two new freeway spans under construction between the old bridge spans should be completed. A little over a year later, the new local span is scheduled to be done.

Intercounty Connector:The connector highway also made the list for 2010, because project managers had hoped to open the first segment of MD 200 in the fall. But after half a century of on-and-off planning and construction, what's another short wait? We're pretty confident that drivers soon will be paying the tolls to use the connector between I-270/370 and Georgia Avenue.

Beltway HOT lanes: By spring, lanes on the Capital Beltway from Braddock to Gallows roads are scheduled to shift right, allowing work to begin on new lanes in the middle of the highway. These middle lanes will become the High Occupancy Toll lanes when the project is done in late 2012. Later this year, more new bridge spans will open at the Beltway interchanges.

Dulles Metrorail: Drivers will encounter major detours on I-66, the Dulles Toll Road and side roads that intersect with Routes 7 and 123 in Tysons Corner. Most of these will occur overnight, but commuters should expect to see lane closings and congestion throughout 2011. Some Metrorail service disruptions will occur at the East and West Falls Church stations as work continues on connecting the new line to the Orange Line. The first phase of construction to Reston is scheduled to be done in 2013.

I-66 West: The widening of the westbound interstate inside the Beltway for two miles between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street is scheduled to be done by the end of the year. This is the first of the "spot improvements" welcomed by long-distance commuters but unpopular in Arlington County.

Telegraph Road interchange: The final part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project, this construction will narrow northbound Telegraph Road to one lane between the ramp to the inner loop of the Beltway and Pershing Avenue until the summer 2012. The connection from Pershing to northbound Telegraph Road will be closed, and cars will be detoured via Eisenhower Avenue and Holland Lane.

Gainesville interchange: Work is already underway at Route 29 and Linton Hall Road. Detour roads should be in place by the summer so that construction can begin on the interchange that will eliminate the at-grade railroad crossing. The entire project, intended to relieve congestion at a long-standing bottleneck, is scheduled to be done by the end of 2014.

Fairfax Parkway interchange: This summer, a six-month detour for Fair Lakes Parkway traffic is scheduled to begin as part of the Fairfax County Parkway interchange project. In November, county parkway traffic will be shifted to new northbound and southbound ramps to allow for the reconstruction of the parkway over Fair Lakes Parkway and Monument Drive. The project is scheduled to be done by the end of 2013.

I-66 pavement: This spring, work will begin on fixing one of the worst stretches of highway pavement in the region, along I-66 from the Beltway to Route 50 in Fairfax County. All work will be done between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. to minimize impact on traffic. The project will continue through 2012.

New York Avenue: The rebuilding of the bridge over the railroad tracks north of Union Station was delayed during 2010, but it's getting underway now and will continue into 2013. In the first phase, through the winter and spring and into the summer, one of the six lanes along this half-mile stretch of New York Avenue will be taken away by construction. At rush hours, there will be three lanes in the peak direction and two in the other direction. Starting in the summer, two lanes will be taken away for about two years. This will leave two lanes open in each direction, and project managers think it will result in traffic delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

14th Street Bridge: The rehabilitation project that has required lane closings and lane shifts on the northbound span since it began in spring 2009 is scheduled to end this fall.

Metro track work: Work continues this year on the long-term rehabilitation of the Red Line, among other maintenance projects. The most significant impacts on riders are most likely to occur over the long holiday weekends. The transit authority will pile work into those periods of lower ridership. The first such project is scheduled for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Jan. 14 through Jan. 17. There will be no service between Rosslyn and Farragut West on the Blue and Orange lines that weekend.

Glenmont garage: Construction of a 1,200-space Metro parking garage is scheduled to begin this month and last until early 2012. It will eventually increase the number of available spaces at the Red Line station to about 3,000.

thomsonr@washpost.com bermanm@washpost.com

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