My nominees for the summer’s most difficult work zones in the D.C. area are on interstates. Construction projects around the Capital Beltway, around the District’s 11th Street bridge and along I-66 slow thousands of drivers.
But for commuters, trouble spots are very personal things. The most significant ones are the ones that they drive through, and during the height of the construction season, these are everywhere.
So here’s a selection of projects that have been creating some buzz among commuters.
Beltway/Springfield. Not all work zones are creating problems for commuters, but for the past few weeks, this paving project has.
On the outer loop just past Springfield, the LOCAL lane section is restricted to a single lane through the end of July for paving. The THRU lanes into Maryland are open.
While traffic volumes decline in the summer, the really serious decline comes in August. So planners on this phase of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project knew going in that this work zone would temporarily increase congestion. Other options, they said, would have extended this final paving for many months.
On the inner loop, paving of the LOCAL section has continued past when project managers had hoped to wrap it up. The recent bad weather slowed progress, they said, but if this weekend’s work proceeds on schedule, the LOCAL lanes should be completely open by Monday morning.
Western Beltway. Drivers frustrated by the delays heading east from Springfield wouldn’t find much joy heading west. Morning traffic toward Tysons Corner has been quite sticky through the long work zone for the 495 Express Lanes.
Drivers will notice sections of nice, new pavement in the middle of the Beltway. No section of the project is scheduled to open until the entire job is done at the end of the year.
I-66 exit ramp. In June, VDOT closed the HOV exit ramp from the left side of I-66 east to the Beltway’s outer loop. This also is part of the 495 Express Lanes project. The exit will be reopened later this year as a combined HOV-3 and 495 Express Lanes ramp.
Dulles Metrorail. Construction of the Silver Line through Tysons Corner and out to Wiehle Avenue is three-quarters done and should be completed next summer.
The last span of the aerial guideway that will carry trains through Tysons Corner is scheduled to be finished Tuesday after a crew lowers 360 tons of pre-cast concrete segments into place along the median of the Dulles Access Highway near Route 7. Meanwhile, stations and pedestrian access pavilions are well underway. Escalators and elevators are being installed. Furthest along is the Wiehle-Reston East station, clearly visible in the median of the highway.
Drivers will continue to encounter some lane closings along routes 7 and 123 and along the Dulles Toll Road corridor.
Nokesville Road bridge. Look for a new traffic pattern at Nokesville and Wellington roads in Manassas, where the Virginia Department of Transportation is building a bridge to take Nokesville Road (Route 28) over Wellington Road and the railroad tracks. The bridge project is scheduled to be done in November.
Fairfax County Parkway extension. Both southbound lanes of the parkway ramp are now open at the Rolling Road interchange, providing congestion relief during the morning rush for motorists heading to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and I-95. The southbound flow is no longer disrupted at this point, the final segment of the 1.8-mile parkway extension project begun in 2008.
At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, a hearing will be held about widening a ramp on the other side of the parkway that has become congested. The hearing is at Rolling Valley Elementary School, 6703 Barnack Dr., Springfield.
11th Street bridge. Project managers are hoping that late this month they’ll be able to open a ramp from southbound D.C. 295 onto the inbound bridge and the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. The new bridge ramp to northbound D.C. 295 should open in late September or early October.
The District also is moving ahead with a new phase of the 11th Street bridge project. The upcoming work will replace the two-lane bridge from the eastbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway over 11th Street with a three-lane bridge, replace the inbound Eighth Street ramp with a new structure, build a new off-ramp from the eastbound freeway to 11th Street providing access to Capitol Hill, and rebuild the freeway between Ninth and 13th streets SE. That section, raised about 20 feet from the current level, will be named Southeast Boulevard. Also, 12th Street SE will be extended north from M Street to the new boulevard.
D.C. 295 ramp. The District Department of Transportation is rebuilding the ramp from Pennsylvania Avenue SE to D.C. 295 to make the highway merge safer. The work will widen the ramp and replace overhead signs, lighting and pavement markings on the Sousa Bridge. DDOT estimates the project will be complete in nine months.
New York Avenue bridge. As bridge reconstruction continues, the north side span is closed and traffic is shifted to the south side span, with two lanes in each direction. Further shifts will occur before the project’s scheduled completion in fall 2013.
Riggs Road/South Dakota Avenue. Conversion of this partial interchange into a more traditional intersection is almost done. The lanes are in their final configuration, and some wrap-up work should be complete by the end of July.
Northwest Branch bridge. In the latest phase of the Beltway bridge reconstruction in Silver Spring, three lanes on each loop go to the left of a construction barrier and one to the right. Drivers seem to be having a bit more difficulty with the outer loop pattern, partly because some need to be in the far right lane for the University Boulevard exit. This phase is scheduled to last until the end of July.
In August, the next phase will place a work-zone barrier in the middle of each loop, with two lanes getting by on each side of the barrier. After Labor Day, the pattern will shift again: one lane to the left, three right. That will probably continue into mid-October.
New Hampshire Avenue bridge. Reconstruction of the ramp from northbound New Hampshire Avenue to the Beltway’s outer loop is scheduled to continue into the fall, but the ramp has reopened and the detour is gone.
BW Parkway/Arundel Mills Boulevard. The interchange on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near the site of a new casino is open to traffic. Engineers refer to this as a “diverging diamond interchange.” The pattern puts traffic in an alignment that leads to the correct destination naturally and avoids left turns.