Late this week, most road work will end as travelers head away from Washington for their Memorial Day holidays. But visitors heading to the nation’s capital should be aware that the transit authority will close four stations on the Blue and Orange lines in the District, which could affect their plans to reach various weekend events.
The Capital Weather Gang sees a chance of thunderstorms each day through Sunday, with summer-like temperatures. Here are some of the traffic and transit challenges you will encounter through the week.
Here’s what AAA says: Gas prices continued to retreat, pulling back from the projected $4 season high this week. The national average price of regular grade gasoline was $3.89 a gallon on Friday, down 9 cents from last week, but $1.05 higher than year ago prices. Prices at the pump remain 22 cents below the all-time record of $4.11 set in summer 2008.
“Motorists continue to enjoy victory, albeit slow in coming, at the pump as gas prices continue to retreat just in time for the long-anticipated Memorial Day holiday weekend,” said John B. Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.
“Have we seen the gas price peak for summer 2011? Analysts say we have, which is welcome news for motorists. Yet of the projected 34.9 million Americans set to travel next weekend, 70 percent say they will compensate for higher fuel costs by cutting other areas of their travel budgets in order to usher in the unofficial start of summer with a holiday weekend get away.”
Online chat today
We can talk about weekend plans for drivers and transit users — or any other local travel issue that’s on your mind — at noon today, during my regular Monday chat. Here’s a link to the chat.
HOT lanes shift
Drivers on the western side of the Capital Beltway in Virginia are used to lane shifts designed to accommodate the work zones for the High Occupancy Toll lanes project, but here’s a new one. All four lanes of the Beltway’s inner loop are shifted to the right from after the Braddock Road (Route 620) overpass to near the Little River Turnpike (Route 236) interchange.
Night time on Beltway
Watch for these overnight closings on the Beltway that also are part of the HOT lanes project.
Outer loop at I-66: Tuesday through Thursday, starting at 9:30 p.m., one Beltway lane will close at I-66, progressing to a full closing after 11 p.m. for steel beam placement. The I-66 westbound ramp to the outer loop and the left I-66 eastbound HOV ramp to the Beltway will also be closed. Follow detour signs.
Inner loop at I-395: Each night through Thursday, starting at 9 p.m., one Beltway lane will close at I-395, progressing to a full closing of the inner loop after 11 p.m. Motorists will be detoured to I-395 north to Exit 2, Edsall Road, follow signage to I-395 south, and take Exit 1D, I-495 north. All lanes will reopen by 5 a.m.
Drivers also should watch for a new traffic pattern at the Telegraph Road bridge over Cameron Run. On northbound Telegraph Road, there should be on fresh asphalt just east of the old northbound lanes from Lenore Lane to the new part of the bridge over Cameron Run. The exits to Eisenhower Avenue and the Capital Beltway’s outer loop will be reconfigured for this shift, managers with the Wilson Bridge project say.
The project, which involved rebuilding four Beltway interchanges including Telegraph Road, is in its final stages. But on such a long and complex program, that still leaves more than a year of work. The reconstruction of Telegraph Road and the Beltway lanes should be substantially done by fall 2012, although some wrap-up work could continue until late spring 2013.
Andrews gate closing
The National Park Service plans a temporary closure on Suitland Parkway at the North Gate exit ramp to Andrews Air Force Base today through Sept. 30 to accommodate a runway reconstruction project.
Drivers should use the Main Gate, Pearl Gate or the Virginia Avenue gate during the closing.
Stadium-Armory Station, Capitol South, Eastern Market and Potomac Avenue will be shut from 10 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing on Monday night, Memorial Day. There will be no service on the Blue and Orange lines between Federal Center SW and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road.
Jim Hughes, Metro’s planning director for such maintenance activities, said Friday that Stars & Stripes & Spokes, the four-day motorcycle festival at RFK Stadium, is a new factor for Memorial Day weekend, with an unknown impact on transit and traffic.
But he was confident in the ability of the free shuttle bus system that Metro sets up to bridge interruptions in service on long weekends. Rail service on the western side of the disruption, the Mall side will be as it normally is on weekends.Trains on the eastern side of the lines are scheduled to run 25 minutes apart.
The centerpiece of the long-planned Memorial Day weekend work is the replacement of four track switches at the Eastern Market Station. Such projects are so complex that they require three days of continuous work to complete. The logistics of creating a safe work space, setting up the train lines to operate in separate sections and providing shuttle buses to bridge the gaps result in the closing of more than one station.
Metro also plans some Memorial Day weekend maintenance that will require Red Line trains to share a track between Friendship Heights and Grosvenor from 10 p.m. Friday through Memorial Day.
They also will share a track at various locations between Judiciary Square and Takoma from 10 p.m. Friday through the midnight closing Sunday.
FAQ: When will be reconstruction of the George Washington Parkway bridge be done? The National Park Service says the project is in its final stage and scheduled to be done in late spring. In the meantime, watch out for the shortened merge from the 14th Street Bridge onto the northbound parkway.