If work this weekend goes as planned, Monday’s commuters will encounter a new traffic pattern at the Capital Beltway interchange with Interstate 66. This is the part of the 495 Express Lanes work zone, where drivers have been complaining about delays going from the inner loop to westbound I-66.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is opening a third westbound lane at the interchange. To create room for this, workers this weekend are modifying Exit 49 from the outer loop to I-66 west, reducing the two-lane ramp to one lane.
That is one of many temporary steps taken to adjust traffic during the project, which is scheduled to end late this year. The second lane for the outer loop ramp is scheduled to be restored by fall. As for I-66, the final configuration westbound will be three through lanes and one high-occupancy vehicle lane.
Metrobus Route 28X (Leesburg Pike) service has been extended to include eastbound trips in the morning and westbound trips in the evening serving Alexandria’s Mark Center, where thousands of federal workers have been relocated.
Riders can travel every 25 to 30 minutes during rush hours between Tysons Corner and the Mark Center, near Seminary Road and Beauregard Street. Stops will include the West Falls Church Metrorail station and Seven Corners Shopping Center.
In June, Metro says, service between West Falls Church station and the Mark Center will be increased to every 15 minutes.
Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, issued some good advice for those who want to safely celebrate at today’s Super Bowl parties and to protect other travelers: Designate a driver beforehand, or use alternative transportation, such as taxis or Metro.
If you’re the host of the party, don’t serve anyone who appears to be impaired; serve food, which can slow the body’s absorption of alcohol; offer nonalcoholic drinks as an option; don’t serve minors; designate a bartender rather than allowing guests to mix their own drinks; take the keys away from a guest who appears impaired.
Throughout February, D.C. traffic control officers will be stationed at the District’s new red top meters for disabled people to explain who is eligible to park at them and for how long. Meanwhile, parking enforcement officers will be issuing warning notices to those who park at the red top meters without displaying a valid placard or license plate.
Starting March 1, drivers who park illegally at the meters will be subject to ticketing and towing.
Drivers have two complaints about Maryland’s new Intercounty Connector: It costs too much and the speed limit is too low. Some perked up when Gov. Martin O’Malley said in an interview on WTOP (103.5 FM) radio last week that the state would consider raising the 55 mph limit.
While a possibility exists that the Maryland Transportation Authority could raise the speed limit, it won’t happen soon.
The transportation authority “is considering further study on the speed limit, but there is no specific time frame for completing an engineering study,” said Kelly Melhem, a spokeswoman for the agency, which operates Maryland’s toll roads, tunnels and bridges.
“Crews are still completing punch-list items that continue to change the existing roadway condition, so it is still a bit early to change the speed limit based on the short operational time that the roadway has been open.”
The connector was designed to meet the engineering standards of a 60 mph highway, Melhem said. Raising the speed limit from 55 to 60 would save drivers less than a minute and a half across the 16 tolled miles of the highway, she said.
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