As we begin the first work week of fall, commuters won’t need a calendar to tell them what traffic season this is. The congestion in the D.C. region’s traditional trouble spots has returned to post-summer levels.
The Capital Weather Gang rates Monday and Tuesday as the best travel days, before we have a good chance of showers on Wednesday and Thursday, and possibly beyond.
The Nationals wrap up their next to last homestand of the regular season with a 1:05 p.m. today game against the Brewers. Note the unusual start time for a weekday. Watch for extra afternoon traffic around M and South Capitol streets, on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, on the Douglass Bridge and on Metro’s Green Line.
While the sports teams may be away for a while, there’s plenty of construction activity to complicate your commutes. Here are some highlights.
The I-66 east HOV ramp to the Capital Beltway’s inner loop (I-495 North) remains closed weekdays from 9:45 a.m. to 5 o’clock the next morning. Crews are working on the 495 Express Lanes entrance ramp.
When the work is done late this fall, the ramp will reopen, but it will reopen exclusively for express lanes traffic. Drivers will need E-ZPasses, either the standard kind for toll paying or the new E-ZPass Flex, which can be set to indicate that there are at least three people aboard, qualifying for a toll-free ride.
The ramp from the outer loop to Exit 49 for I-66 partly closes for construction from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
I-66/Dulles Connector Road
2 p.m. update: The Virginia Department of Transportation says this scheduled shutdown has been cancelled for the week.
I-66 West shuts completely on Monday through Friday nights at the Dulles Connector Road to clear room for work on the Dulles Metrorail project.
I-95/395 HOV lanes
The reversible HOV lanes may be shut overnights this week between Duke Street and Dumfries Road. All HOV lanes will be open to traffic by 5 a.m.
GW Parkway lane blocked
During my online chat last Monday, travelers said they were concerned about the new work along the northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway, which has begun to back up traffic. It’s the next phase of a National Park Service project to shore up the rocks around Spout Run.
The project, managed by the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration, is scheduled to continue well into December. Workers will be drilling into the rocks and installing bolts to stabilize areas north and south of the Spout Run Parkway.
The left lane will be closed at all times. The others will be open for rush hours. But on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., only one northbound travel lane will be available. No night work has been scheduled, but drivers may find that the northbound lanes shrink down to one on weekends.
Mount Vernon Trail
Farther south on the George Washington Parkway, the National Park Service is carrying out a safety plan that realigns the crossing for the Mount Vernon Trail at the ramp from Route 27.
Workers may be in that area between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays. The project is scheduled to be done soon. Meanwhile, the trail is still open, but users may encounter detours.
Arlington Memorial Bridge
In the same area, the National Park Service also is repairing sections of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. From 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, watch for lane closings in both directions, which may cause traffic delays. This work is scheduled to be done in November.
HOV ramp closing
At the beginning of October, the ramp from the I-95 southbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes to the regular lanes south of the Fairfax County Parkway will close permanently. The Virginia Department of Transportation said this is being done to create room for construction of an additional travel lane for the 95 Express Lanes, the high-occupancy toll lanes project.
Virginia E-ZPass deal
This week is the last chance for drivers who open a new Virginia E-ZPass account to qualify for two toll-free weeks of travel on the 495 Express Lanes early next year.
The offer from the Express Lanes operator is part of a program to prepare drivers for the new lanes on the west side of the Beltway.
To be eligible for the toll-free weeks, drivers must sign up for the incentive by the end of September on the 495 Express Lanes Web site, www.495express lanes.com/offer, and open a Virginia E-ZPass account. The two weeks covered by the deal run Jan. 7-20.
Fairfax transportation meetings
Fairfax County has scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss what people want out of the local transportation system and how to finance projects.
Two of the meetings are scheduled for this week. The first session begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Springfield Government Center, 6140 Rolling Rd., Springfield. For bus riders, the center can be reached via Fairfax Connector Route 310.
The next session will be 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sully Governmental Center, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd., Chantilly. Fairfax Connector Routes 640 and 642 serve this area.
Ride On bus forum
Montgomery County plans to hold a forum about Ride On bus service at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Executive Office Building cafeteria on Terrace Level of 101 Monroe St., Rockville.
Ride On has proposed changes to six Ride On routes and one Metrobus route operated on Saturdays by Ride On. The routes are 38, 47, 52, 53, 58, 98 and the Z2. If the changes get final approval, they will take effect in January.
Metro weekend delays
Metro has several major projects scheduled for this weekend. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Vienna and East Falls Church on the Orange Line, and between Southern Avenue and Branch Avenue on the Green Line.