The Washington Post

Three lanes from 14th St. Bridge to freeway

Some drivers are confused by the new work zone on the northbound side of the 14th Street Bridge, and that may account for the extra congestion that occurred this morning.

I got this message from a driver regarding the map from the District Department of Transportation that shows the new lane configuration: “The map illustrates that, as you approach the barrier on the 14th Street Bridge from 395, if you want to go to 14th Street you should stay to the left of the barrier, and that if you want to stay on I-395 (Southeast-Southwest Freeway), you should go to the right of the barrier.

“However, I also read the map to say that if you are on the side of the barrier headed for 14th Street but in the lane closest to the barrier, you can turn back on to I-395 after going past the barrier.”

That’s correct, and DDOT wants to spread that word in the hope drivers will know that they can use three of the bridge’s four through lanes to reach the freeway.

The left-most lane takes drivers to 14th Street. The next one over, the left-center lane, can also take drivers to 14th Street. But the work zone does not block drivers in that lane from also moving right onto the freeway. Once drivers move past that construction island, they have the choice of going straight on to 14th Street or bearing right onto the freeway.

If they chose to bear right onto the freeway, they do not have to merge with other freeway traffic. They have a clear lane onto the freeway.

I hope that if we can get the word around that freeway-bound drivers can use any of those three right lanes on the northbound span, it will ease the congestion seen today. But the placement of the work zone will remain a challenge for drivers coming from the northbound George Washington Parkway onto the bridge and heading for 14th Street. They still must work their way left rather quickly so they’re in one of the two left lanes before they reach the work zone on the north side of the bridge.

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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