The first part of the week, Thanksgiving getaway time, is likely to bring showers, and possibly even a thunderstorm early Wednesday, the Capital Weather Gang says. The forecast looks better for Thursday through Saturday, but returning travelers may encounter some light rain Sunday.
Here’s a look at some of the traffic and transit information you need for the holiday week.
The highway departments in the D.C. region will keep up their road work schedule during the early part of the week, weather permitting, but almost all road work will be suspended from about midday Wednesday till Monday for the holiday.
Intercounty Connector opening
The new segment of the Intercounty Connector between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 is scheduled to open at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Though the connector is a toll road, rides will be free till Dec. 5.
The 10-mile segment will create highway connections at Layhill Road, New Hampshire Avenue, Route 29 (Columbia Pike) and Briggs Chaney Road, as well as at I-95.
Overall, the connector opens up a highway link between I-270 and I-95 north of the congested Capital Beltway. Drivers on the west side of the D.C. region who are planning their Thanksgiving getaways should consider using the connector as a shortcut to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. They can use the new highway as an alternative to the Capital Beltway, which is farther south and likely to be a lot more congested during getaway time.
Some travelers who have all of Thanksgiving week off left town Friday night, but the big outbound rush generally begins Tuesday morning and intensifies through Wednesday night.
Perhaps the major difference between this year and last will turn out to be the new highway-speed E-ZPass lanes at the I-95 toll plaza in Delaware. They should make it much easier to get through this traditional bottleneck, but it’s the first test for the lanes in dealing with the extremely large volumes at Thanksgiving.
We’ll have more advice here on the blog during the next several days.
Click here for Dr. Gridlock’s holiday getaway hangout (with special guests from transportation agencies).
Toll Road relief
Monday morning commuters should get some relief at one of the D.C. region’s worst bottlenecks. The Virginia Department of Transportation is restoring the second lane on the ramp leading from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road to the Capital Beltway’s inner loop.
The second lane was taken away over the summer as part of the high-occupancy toll lanes project, and that contributed to the extra congestion that thousands of commuters have experienced in the work zone north of Tysons Corner.
I’ve been telling exasperated commuters that the lane would be restored early next year. But the project managers accelerated the work.
The narrowing of the ramp to the northbound Beltway is not the only source of complaints. Drivers also say they’re getting squeezed by the work zone on the left side of the toll road. But the effect of restoring the ramp lane should be noticeable.
Project managers hope they might be able to restore that far left lane ahead of schedule, too. Right now, the area is still scheduled to remain a work zone into next year.
I-295 bridge repairs
Over the weekend, the District Department of Transportation shifted traffic on southbound Interstate 295 between Howard Road and the Suitland Parkway to accommodate highway bridge repairs.
The work zone shifted from the center lane to the right, and all southbound traffic will use the two left lanes during this phase of work, DDOT said.
There won’t be any scheduled disruptions from Monday through Sunday, for Thanksgiving week.
George Washington Parkway
Drivers may find a single northbound lane closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays from just north of the Spout Run exit to the Route 123 exit.
Megabus, the intercity bus service, has relocated its bus bays to the remodeled bus deck inside Union Station’s garage. This is part of the redevelopment of that garage level into a D.C. hub for intercity buses.