The Labor Day holiday weekend--traditionally an occasion for a final summertime fling--will bring fair but humid weather, warm surf, and a few major traffic problems for the thousands of Washington-area travelers expected to head for the beaches.
Incomplete road construction projects are likely to slow traffic at a number of sites around the region, but the major tie-ups are expected to occur at the same bottlenecks that have consistently snarled weekend beach traffic in recent years, according to area highway officials.
"There will be no major bottlenecks caused by road closures" in Virginia, said Jack Leigh, an engineer at the state Department of Highways and Transportation. "Everything should be in pretty good shape."
Weather throughout the region should be good as well. The National Weather Service predicted that today would be mostly sunny with a high temperature here of 84 to 88 degrees. Saturday through Monday will feature hot and humid weather with a moody mixture of cloudiness and sunshine. Temperatures in the region will range from highs of about 90 degrees to lows in the 60s throughout the weekend.
There is no chance of rain through Monday, weather forecasters said.
In Washington, the worst traffic congestion is expected in the outbound lanes of New York Avenue and the southbound lanes of the 14th Street bridge. On the New York Avenue bridge over the Anacostia River, one of the three east-bound lanes has been closed due to construction and traffic is likely to be impeded, according to a spokesman at the D.C. Department of Transportation. Construction projects on 16th Street NW, between Emerson Street and Whittier Place and on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Third and Sixth streets are also expected to tie up traffic, transportation officials said.
In Northern Virginia, traffic will likely get clogged on I-395 South. A 55-mile stretch of Rte. 95, between Quantico and Ashland, will cause motorists some delays due to a construction project to widen the highway from four lanes to six. No work is planned over the weekend, and the normal two lanes are open in both directions, but there are barriers on the sides of the roadway at some locations, closing off the emergency lanes.. In addition, congestion is likely in Hampton at the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, highway officials said.
In Maryland, traffic in Maryland-bound lanes of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is expected to move at a snail's pace much of the weekend. Construction on the bridge was stopped last night and will be resumed Tuesday. Officials said motorists should be aware of the rough, bumpy surface on the bridge.
Traffic is expected to be snarled at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Kent Narrows Bridge and narrow highway bridges near Cambridge and Vienna in Dorchester County, as well. Eastbound lanes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are expected to be especially congested between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. today and westbound between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday, Maryland State Police said.
The Kent Narrows drawbridge, which when raised remains up from 5 to 15 minutes, will be raised on the hour from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. today if boats need passage, and again at 8 p.m.
Tomorrow, the bridge will be raised at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., noon, and on the hour from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. On both Sunday and Labor Day, the raisings will be on the hour from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.; then the bridge will be down until 8 p.m.
Maryland officials advised motorists to try to avoid the drawbridge at lifting times, especially the 8 o'clock raising tonight and the noon opening tomorrow.
In addition, new weight limits from 12 to 3 tons maximum on the Rte. 1 drawbridge north of Rehoboth Beach will force some recreational vehicles to take alternate routes. The new lower limit forces large recreational vehicles to follow signs marking an alternate route into the beach area. The bridge opens without any set schedule.
At beach resorts this weekend, surf temperatures along the Atlantic shore from New Jersey to Ocean City, including Delaware's Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach, will likely be soothing, with temperatures in the low to mid-70s. Farther south, surfers and swimmers at Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina will enjoy 80-degree water temperatures.