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Traffic experiment on GW Parkway

[Thursday update: The National Park Service says the parkway lane shift will not happen on Monday. The plan is still under discussion and the announcement should not have gone out, said park service spokeswoman Toni Braxton.]

Drivers heading south on the 14th Street Bridge have complained about the congestion on the ramp leading to the northbound George Washington Parkway stemming from the reconstruction of the Humpback Bridge. On Monday, Aug. 2, the Federal Highway Administration and National Park Service will begin a one-week test of a new traffic pattern to see if it relieves that congestion.

During the afternoon rush, from 3 to 7 p.m., traffic already northbound on the parkway approaching the 14th Street Bridge will merge to the left into a single lane over the parkway's Humpback Bridge. Drivers coming off southbound I-395 (the 14th Street Bridge) will have a dedicated lane as they merge onto the northbound parkway. This should reduce the traffic backup on I-395 southbound. The risk is it could create more congestion among drivers already on the parkway.

The bridge reconstruction 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.

By Robert Thomson  | July 28, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion, Construction, Virginia  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Humpback Bridge  
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The risk is it could create more congestion among drivers already on the parkway.

No kidding. I predict huge backups.

Posted by: seraphina21 | July 28, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I suppose the real question with respect to the Parkway backups is what the volume of traffic is coming from Reagan Airport or Alexandria compared to the volume coming off the 14th Street Bridge. If it's a smaller volume, then asking those drivers to put up with a backup seems reasonable to me. If you've ever driven over the 14th Street Bridge during the afternoon rush hour you know what a madhouse it is due to the backup in the right lane and the idiots changing lanes every which way. (I don't understand why more of the thru traffic doesn't use the express lane bridge just to avoid the situation. The bridge itself isn't HOV-restricted.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 28, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: I'm wondering if a one-week test will be long enough to judge this. Seems like on any traffic pattern change -- even the good ones -- it takes drivers a couple of weeks to adjust to lane shifts and new merges.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | July 28, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Dr. G, you make a good point, ESPECIALLY when the one-week test occurs in August, when traffic is historically a lot lighter in the DC area since it's peak vacation time.

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 28, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Making improvements to the Humpback Bridge and GW Parkway to ease congestion on the 14th St Bridge - great idea!

Starting construction on Ohio Drive near the Memorial Bridge *before* the GW Pkwy project is finished - HORRIBLE IDEA!

These two roads are essential cross-town routes for those who live in Northern VA and NW DC. Now they are both jammed up from early afternoon through rush hour. I just don't see the logic of starting one before finishing the other. Boooooo!

Posted by: jdcinarlington | July 28, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! The afternoon backups on I-395 southbound have extended all the way back to Capitol St, with four lanes of traffic basically at a very slow crawl for over a mile, all because of to the Humpback roadblock. I think the proposal is a welcome tradeoff.

Posted by: va62 | July 28, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Where is "Capitol St"? Do you mean South Capitol Street? (It's not a single street named "Capitol Street" with "N" and "S" prefixes, as there is a third street named "East Capitol Street" to go along with the other two.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | July 28, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Yep, South Capitol St it is. You figured it out, just like most people figure out the M St. in Georgetown is really M St. NW ;)

Posted by: va62 | July 28, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

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