Temperatures should be in the 80s all week, but travelers could encounter some storms over the next few days, the Capital Weather Gang says. Metrorail service also is back to near normal following a difficult week, especially for Green Line riders.
The eastbound lanes on Route 50 near Route 301 in Prince George’s County have reopened following the Sunday disruption caused by pavement buckling in the heat — the highway version of the heat king on Metro’s Green Line tracks.
The morning rain slowed traffic in many parts of the region. Traffic volumes will decline as we enter vacation season, but the real sweet spot doesn’t come till August.
Several highway work zones still create significant delays.
Drivers continue to have difficulty getting through the Capital Beltway’s outer loop work zone between Springfield and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
The LOCAL lane section is restricted to a single lane through the end of July for paving. The THRU lanes into Maryland are open.
This past weekend, crews working on the last phase of the Wilson Bridge project were completing paving between the Cameron Run bridge and the Eisenhower Connector.
Inner loop drivers should find two THRU lanes and two LOCAL lanes open between Telegraph Road and the Eisenhower Avenue Connector. Traffic was moving much better in this zone Monday morning.
The crews will now move on to complete inner loop paving between Route 1 and Telegraph Road.
Northwest Branch bridge
On the north side of the Beltway, traffic continues to struggle through the work zone at the Northwest Branch bridge in Silver Spring, scene of a long-term rehabilitation project.
This project keeps all lanes open at peak periods but shifts the lane pattern to make room for work zones.
The latest phase has three lanes to the left and one to the right on each loop. Drivers seem to be having a bit more difficulty with the outer loop pattern, partly because some need to be in the far right lane for the University Boulevard exit. This phase is scheduled to last until the end of July.
The next phase will place a work-zone barrier in the middle of each loop, with two lanes getting by on each side of the barrier. At least this phase will occur during August, the month with the lightest traffic.
After Labor Day, the pattern will shift again: one lane to the left, three right. That will probably continue into mid-October.
D.C. freeway ramps
The District Department of Transportation, which is finishing up construction of the new 11th Street bridge this year, is launching another project nearby. DDOT is rebuilding the ramp from Pennsylvania Avenue SE to D.C. 295 to make the highway merge safer.
The work will widen the ramp and replace overhead signs, lighting and pavement markings on the Sousa Bridge. DDOT estimates the project will be complete in nine months.
Meanwhile, the 11th Street bridge project managers now are hoping that late this month they’ll be able to open a ramp from southbound D.C. 295 onto the inbound bridge and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. The new bridge ramp to northbound D.C. 295 should open in late September or early October.
I-66 lane closings
Westbound I-66 between Route 267 and Route 7 is scheduled to close from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night through Friday. The Dulles Metrorail project will be working on the Silver Line bridge that crosses the highway.
Metro Rush Plus
Blue Line riders in Virginia have been complaining about the impact of Metro’s Rush Plus service since it launched on June 18, and they won’t be any happier about it after the Monday morning commute.
A broken down train outside Pentagon City created delays for them and for riders on the Yellow Line, which Metro has been pitching as the alternative route to D.C. for many of those Blue Line riders.
Some unhappy riders have been asking me if Metro will abandon Rush Plus and go back to the earlier schedule. That seems extremely unlikely, if not flat-out impossible. Rush Plus is based on Metro’s need to clear some room in the Rosslyn tunnel for the eventual arrival of the Silver Line trains.
Metro’s solution is to divert Blue Line trains. Since the Silver Line trains won’t arrive till late 2013 or early 2014, Metro is temporarily adding Orange Line trains.
Look for some tweaks in the Rush Plus, such as adding an eight-car Blue Line train, but not for a wholesale revision of the plan.
Crews will pick up tree debris placed by the roadside. Be sure the debris placed for collection does not block sidewalks, driveways and streets.
The collections will take several days to complete.
At midweek, look for a new traffic pattern at Nokesville and Wellington roads in Manassas.
Northbound traffic on Nokesville Road will go over the new bridge. Traffic heading to Wellington Road from northbound Nokesville Road will turn right onto the new Wellington Road Connector just before crossing the bridge. Traffic heading to northbound Nokesville from Wellington Road will turn onto the new connector just east of the bridge.
The bridge project, eliminating a railroad crossing, is scheduled to be done in November.
Join me at noon EDT Monday for our weekly online discussion about all your local travel concerns.