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Headaches on the horizon

Commuters encountering detours and delays in the Ohio Drive reconstruction project are probably wondering whether there's any alternative to the stalled traffic between the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center. The National Park Service, which is overseeing the road rebuilding, has offered this list of alternatives.

1) Heading south from Rock Creek Parkway to downtown and points east: Make a left onto Virginia Avenue NW, then a right onto southbound 19th Street and a left onto Constitution Avenue NW.

2) Heading south from Rock Creek Parkway to Arlington Memorial Bridge: Make a left onto Virginia Avenue NW, then a right onto 23rd Street NW. Head south to Lincoln Circle and onto the Memorial Bridge.

3) Heading north to I-66/Theodore Roosevelt Bridge from East Potomac Park or Independence Avenue, or from Southeast Washington and Prince George's County: Use Maine Avenue SW to 15th Street northbound to westbound Constitution Avenue, which becomes I-66/Theodore Roosevelt Bridge once past 23rd Street NW.

What's going on
This total reconstruction of Ohio Drive is scheduled to be done in late fall. It affects the roadways between Independence Avenue SW at the intersection of Ohio Drive SW, northward to the southern end of Rock Creek Parkway, the area immediately south of the Kennedy Center.

Phase 2 work, now underway, is scheduled to be done at the end of July. From 6 to 10 a.m., all traffic will be stopped at 17th Street and Independence Avenue, the National Park Service said in a Wednesday night statement, all traffic will be routed to either northbound 15th or northbound 17th streets.

The park service strongly recommends that Inbound drivers use 15th Street/Raoul Wallenburg Place SW from Maine Avenue SW and from westbound Independence Avenue before reaching 17th Street to alleviate back-ups likely to occur just west of 17th Street on westbound Independence Avenue SW because of the traffic stop. After 10 a.m., traffic will be allowed to proceed west past 17th Street on Independence Avenue.

The impact of the project is noticeable to both rush hour and non-rush hour traffic. There will always be two lanes inbound for the morning rush and two outbound for the afternoon rush (3:30 to 6:30 p.m.). There will be no inbound lanes during afternoon rush. During off-peak times, one inbound lane and one outbound lane will be open. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be detoured around the east side of the Lincoln Memorial.

At night, sections of roadway might be completely shut.

Here's a park service map of the project.

Ohio Drive 2010.jpg

By Robert Thomson  | June 2, 2010; 6:50 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Commuting, Congestion, Construction, District  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Ohio Drive  
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Next: Outbound N.Y. Ave. reopens


It's unbelievable that there is no reference to the nightmare of approaching from the east to cross the Mall at 17th Street. I was more than an hour late to work yesterday, and will have to find a very different route to work for the duration.

Posted by: kap5 | June 3, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else find it a little ridiculous that they close off that section DURING rush hour? Why can't they do it in the middle of the day when there's no traffic?

Also, the sign for the Rock Creek Parkway northbound detour on the Memorial Bridge is tiny and on the LEFT side of the road. Since the exit to the parkway is on the right side, you'd think they'd put it somewhere in the middle of the bridge in the right lane so drivers could see it before they got stuck on Independence Ave? I missed the sign a few days ago and was 45 minutes late because I was forced to go on Independence Ave (no way to turn around ANYWHERE).

The ineptitude of the Park Service and whoever else is reponsible for this project is simply mind-boggling. Traffic is snarled all the way up to Arlington Cemetary because no one has any idea what's going on and the signage is pretty vague.

Posted by: Dynaformer | June 4, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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