The Washington Post

Maryland ends Beltway bridge detour

The Capital Beltway has been a challenge for thousands of commuters during this construction season, but one challenge has gone away ahead of schedule. The ramp from northbound New Hampshire Avenue to the Beltway’s outer loop in Montgomery County has reopened.

Since late April, drivers heading for the outer loop had been detoured east on the inner loop before swinging around onto the outer loop to get back to where they started. Drivers gave me various estimates on the delay time, but it seemed to add about 20 minutes to their commutes.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, which is replacing the bridge deck that takes the ramp over the Beltway, determined that the ramp wasn’t wide enough to maintain the flow of traffic during this phase of the work. So it set up the now-ended detour. The original schedule had the ramp closed till midsummer.

The overall project won’t be done till fall, but the remaining work can be done without detours, the highway administration said.

However, there will be temporary lane closings and lane shifts on the Beltway during off peak hours.This is the schedule:

Outer loop: Overnight single, double and triple lane closings Sundays through Thursdays between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Inner loop: Overnight single and double lane closings Sundays through Thursdays between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Use great caution in this area, not only because of the work on the New Hampshire Avenue but also because it’s just east of the Northwest Branch Bridge rehabilitation project, which has altered the traffic pattern on both sides of the Beltway. Traffic in this area is almost always heavy, and the construction just adds to the congestion.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.


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