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Next phase at 14th St. Bridge

Phase 4 14th St Bridge.jpg
The work zone on the bridge's northbound span will move left next week. (DDOT)

The work zone on the northbound 14th Street Bridge is about to shift again. On Monday, if the plan goes according to schedule, commuters will find the left-center lane blocked as they head for either 14th Street or the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

That means the work zone will have moved one lane to the left. After a year-long phase in which the far right lane was the only one blocked off, the bridge rehabilitation project has moved out fairly rapidly across the span. The current work zone was set up just last month.

While the concrete barriers will be in a different spot next week, the task for drivers remains basically the same. They must navigate around this construction island to line up for either 14th Street or the freeway.

However, I think this may be slightly more challenging than the current phase. Right now, two lanes are open to the left and two lanes are open to the right, a good balance. In the new configuration, there will be one lane to the left and three to the right of the work zone. If everyone heading for 14th Street gets into the left lane, rush hour traffic could be more than usually stalled. Some drivers heading for 14th Street may want to aim for the lane just to the right of the new work zone, than shift left for 14th Street once they get past the construction barriers. (Does that make sense to you regulars on the bridge? What's your advice?)

The new configuration is scheduled to be in place by 5 a.m. Monday. But the set-up for this will start at 10 p.m. Friday. So over the weekend, drivers may find three lanes open, rather than the normal four. All four will be available in time for Monday morning's rush.

Tips for traffic
-- Drivers heading for the bridge from northbound Interstate 395 can use the left exit lane (Exit 10C) as a through lane onto the bridge. They will not be required to exit and can continue through onto the bridge.
-- When the work zone ends, there's about an eighth of a mile left to make lane changes before the highway divides.
-- There's always a lot of traffic movement across the bridge, but pay particular mind to drivers merging from the northbound George Washington Parkway on the right who are going to have limited space to get left if they're destination is 14th Street.
-- Drivers heading for the freeway (I-395 N) are in the best spot. They will have three lanes to work with as they cross the bridge.

By Robert Thomson  | August 19, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Construction, District, Driving  | Tags:  14th Street Bridge, Dr. Gridlock  
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The last time I drove over the inbound bridge (last Friday, the 13th) the idiot in front of me came to a complete stop as he approached the lane divide. It was shortly before noon so the traffic was moving. Makes me shudder to think of what some people may do when they see a single lane to the left of the barriers. My experience with work zones over the years is that a lot of drivers are very reluctant to enter a single-lane setup like that. Maybe they feel claustrophobic. Whatever the reason, it makes me think it will be necessary to be prepared for a lot of sudden braking and last-second lane-changing.

I must say that the bridge surface is in far better shape than it was in the past, so the work seems to be worthwhile.

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 19, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

What's funny is they are actually resurfacing this bridge. Chain Bridge was shutdown for a few weekends for "resurfacing" but the road surface was not changed at all.

What's up with that?

Posted by: yell53 | August 19, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

DG! NO! bad advice...I take the bridge every day from VA. Before the construction the "fast lane" was all the way to the left - the one that leads right onto 14th. I suggest that the only people who get all the way to the left lane are only those who are getting off on 14th St. The idiots who try to come across all the lanes (R to L) only back up the rest of us just trying to get across the bridge and onto the SW freeway. Same goes for the idiots who try to use the fast lane and cut over in front of all the people in the 3 right lanes. I'm just saying...

Posted by: idontgetit1 | August 19, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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