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Major changes at GW Parkway bridge

Construction workers are preparing for a new phase of construction on the George Washington Parkway's Humpback Bridge. The old northbound lanes of the bridge are going to be demolished, then rebuilt. Northbound traffic will be shifted temporarily to the center of the bridge.

The too-short ramp from the southbound 14th Street Bridge to the northbound parkway also will be rebuilt. During this phase of construction, which could start Thursday, the old ramp will be closed and drivers will be on a new temporary ramp.

humpback map (3).jpg

The Mount Vernon Trail, which runs over the bridge, will be temporarily relocated. Bike riders should dismount when they reach the construction zone and watch for construction equipment, which may be crossing the trail.

All this is going to result in an increase in the number of brief closings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. These closings will last up to 15 minutes.

During this phase, scheduled to last till the end of 2010, at least one lane will remain open in each direction -- except for those 15 minute closings.

The bridge project is behind schedule. The original timetable called for completion of the rebuilding in February 2010. Project managers say it has been delayed till spring 2011, because of unforeseen problems with the utilities in the area, ground conditions and bad weather.

Though this is a very heavily used commuter route, I don't get many complaints about traffic delays stemming from the bridge reconstruction. The Ohio Drive reconstruction, another National Park Service project just across the river in the District, has generated much more feedback from readers about congestion.

Most people who ask about the Humpback Bridge ask why it's taking so long. Park Service and Federal Highway Administration officials told me back at the beginning that the fastest way to get it done would be to shut down the bridge completely and just work around the clock. But that would have created a huge problem for commuters that would have rippled out across the D.C. region. So they had to devise a plan that would allow the work to proceed more gradually while maintaining traffic flow across the bridge.

By Robert Thomson  | June 30, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Construction, Driving, Northern Virginia  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, GW Parkway, Humpback Bridge  
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Yes, Ohio Drive is a mess, at least some of the time.

The worst point is when they switch to two-way traffic at around 6p. Because Independence backs up, a bunch of cheaters go up in the left lane and then cut over at the last minute. So that means that three lanes have to merge into one--two lanes merging is tough enough, but three is terrible.

Worse, there's a cop there right at the intersection. Why don't the police direct all traffic in the left lane to turn left (or ticket them)? What would further help would be some of those lane divider sticks to prevent lane shifting in the last block or so before 23d street as well.

Posted by: ah___ | June 30, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Again, we sacrifice commonsense, piles of money, efficiency and ultimately TIME by catering to the whiney few.

Closing this bridge and building it anew would have taken 6-8 months. Instead they decide to "sorta" keep it open. I say sort of because the bridge is so dysfunctional in its current state, it might as well be closed.

They schedule a 2 year timeframe that "gasp" then goes to three.

There are two alternative routes for people to take there, it isn't like this would have completely shut down traffic.

On top of that, this work has costed a minimum of 50% more because of the extra time involved in the workaround.

Hmm...what would make more sense. Saving 30 months (and all the associated frustration) and half the money, or their current plan.

This is exacty why heavy highway projects are years behind and double the cost.

Posted by: Nosh1 | June 30, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Right on, Nosh1. The reason there haven't been many complaints is because, in reality, there is no difference from before.

Posted by: ronjaboy | June 30, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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