New color on I-66

A driver who uses Interstate 66 near the Capital Beltway asked during Monday’s online discussion about “a section of the right green arrow lane around Route 123 [that] seems to have been painted orange.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation says this is a high-friction surface coating applied to the shoulder lanes of I-66 that serve as travel lanes during peak periods. (A green arrow indicates they are open for travel.)

The coating is the color of red clay, VDOT said. It should help motorists distinguish between the lanes that are open all the time and these part-time lanes.

This is a safety feature applied in coordination with the new paving on I-66 between the Beltway and Route 50, a project scheduled to be done in November. In my July 28 column, we discussed another of those features: the double white line set down along the border of the High Occupancy Vehicle lane. The lines mark areas where lane changes can be disruptive and dangerous, so don’t cross them.

Beltway/Telegraph Road

Driving the Beltway’s outer loop from Springfield to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was a much more pleasant experience last week following the full opening of the THRU and LOCAL lanes. This uncorked the longtime bottleneck at Telegraph Road and allowed drivers to take full advantage of the widened bridge.

The reconstruction of Telegraph Road is the last big task remaining, and project managers are trying to get most of that done by the end of the year, although some work could continue into early 2013.

Route 15 paving

The Maryland State Highway Administration is about to start a milling and paving project along 51 / 2 miles of southbound Route 15 (Catoctin Mountain Highway) in Thurmont. The work is scheduled to begin Monday and will take about two months.

The project area is between Roddy Road, north of Thurmont, and the pedestrian bridge for the Catoctin Furnace Trail over Route 15. This is near Cunningham Falls State Park and the Catoctin Iron Furnace, south of Thurmont, a summer escape for many people from the D.C. area.

Route 50 closings

VDOT plans lane closings this week for another of the region’s big highway projects, the untangling of the interchange linking Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) with Courthouse Road and 10th Street.

Monday through Friday, closings will occur on westbound Arlington Boulevard from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on the eastbound side from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastbound lane closings also are scheduled for 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Red Line Work

Metro has split the west side of the Red Line this weekend for one of its maintenance projects. Free shuttle buses have replaced trains between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights, and the Bethesda and Medical Center stations are closed until service resumes Monday morning.

Next weekend, the major disruption will be on the east side of the Red Line. Buses will replace trains between the Silver Spring and NoMa stations. The Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland and Takoma stations will be closed, as will the Red Line platform at Fort Totten.

Bridge project delayed

Replacement of the Beach Mill Road bridge over Nichols Branch in Fairfax County is going to be delayed from this summer to next summer so that school buses won’t have to use a six-mile detour for several months, VDOT said.

The bridge was destroyed in September by Tropical Storm Lee, and a temporary replacement has been in use.

Drivers may have seen signs alerting them that the bridge would close for the replacement project on Monday. Those signs should be gone now.

Waiting until next summer means the work can start as soon as school is out and can be done by Labor Day 2013.

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