The Washington Post

Dr. Gridlock’s traffic, transit tips

14th Street Bridge

The new work zone continues to create extra congestion on the northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge. Watching the traffic cameras last week, I saw many vehicles shifting lanes to the right just before they reached the split for the construction island.

There’s no reason to do that. Drivers in the second lane from the left have the option of continuing straight onto 14th Street for destinations in downtown Washington or bearing right just after the construction island ends so they can head onto the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

Instead, many drivers are making unnecessary last-moment shifts to the right just before the construction island. Some drivers may be reacting to the big green and white sign hanging across the bridge around where the split begins. Drivers looking at the sign — which is not new — in combination with the flashing arrows at road level marking the split may think they need to be right of the island to reach the freeway. That’s not so.

Md. Beltway Bridge

The Maryland State Highway Administration is beginning a two-year rehabilitation project on the Capital Beltway bridge over Northwest Branch between New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard.

Jersey barriers will be installed on both sides of the Beltway. The lanes will shift, and they will be narrowed from 12 to 11 feet. The shoulders will be closed. Single-lane closings will be scheduled for 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights.

Telegraph Road changes

Managers at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project are hoping to make some major changes at the Telegraph Road interchange this weekend, weather permitting. Once the changes are in place, a new ramp will permanently eliminate the left turn from southbound Telegraph Road onto North Kings Highway, lengthening green-light time for Telegraph Road travelers.

This will cause some initial confusion: For southbound drivers on Telegraph Road, the turn to North Kings Highway will be the first right after crossing the Cameron Run Bridge, while the turn to Huntington Avenue will be the second right.

Georgia Ave./Norbeck Rd.

Some drivers in Montgomery County are questioning Maryland’s decision to take away one of the two left-turn lanes from northbound Georgia Avenue onto westbound Norbeck Road, just south of the newly opened segment of the Intercounty Connector. The State Highway Administration made several changes at the intersection to ease notoriously bad congestion that predates the connector.

Drivers are complaining that the reduction in the left-turn lanes aggravated the situation.

David Buck, spokesman for the highway administration, said the goal of the changes is to balance traffic flow, whether it’s turning or going through the intersection. The state and county are monitoring the impact, he said.

The bottom line, Buck said, is that the intersection will continue to be a challenge until it can be rebuilt into an interchange. That’s in design, but there’s no money yet for right-of-way acquisition or construction, he said.

Beltway HOT lanes

The Virginia Department of Transportation is planning a permanent traffic shift this week at the Capital Beltway’s interchange with Braddock Road. This is part of the reconstruction along 14 miles of the western Beltway in Virginia to create the high-occupancy toll lanes.

When preparations scheduled for this weekend are complete, crews will close the ramp from westbound Braddock Road to the Beltway’s outer loop (southbound I-495) and activate a new traffic signal for a left turn onto the outer loop. There will be a new left-turn lane to accommodate the traffic, VDOT said.

A temporary traffic signal that controls traffic coming off the outer loop for eastbound Braddock Road will remain until the new Braddock Road bridge is completed in late summer.

For more transportation news, visit

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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