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The weekend and beyond

Construction updates | D.C. area travel tips | Going Out Guide

[This post has been updated.]

Friday's traveling weather will be like Thursday's, only more so: hot and humid. But we'll cool off steadily through a partly cloudy weekend. The Redskins are away, but the Nationals are playing their last home stand of the season. National parks are waiving entrance fees Saturday for Public Lands Day. The National Book Festival is on the Mall Saturday. I've highlighted some of the many road and transit projects that could disrupt your travels this weekend and next week.

New York Avenue
The District Department of Transportation plans to temporarily close one lane of New York Avenue NE westbound from Fairview Avenue to the 9th Street Bridge at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 24. This pattern will continue all weekend till 6 a.m. Monday. Then it will be repeated from 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, through 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 4.

The closings are part of the roadway widening work along New York Avenue. On Monday, Oct. 4, DDOT will move westbound traffic on New York Avenue into three newly built right lanes.

The new 9th Street Bridge is scheduled to open in late January. In February, DDOT will start demolishing the old bridge. The entire rebuilding project is scheduled to be done in May.

Connecticut Avenue
Watch for nighttime utility work that will temporarily close lanes on Connecticut Avenue between Calvert Street and Woodley Road. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority says it will be installing a two-foot storm drain pipe on Connecticut Avenue over the next month, between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m.

During the construction, traffic on Connecticut Avenue will be reduced to one lane in each direction between Calvert Street and Woodley Road. There will be no street parking from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. in those blocks.

Capital Beltway/Telegraph Road
Construction at the interchange for the Wilson Bridge project will require lane closings overnight Friday, lasting till noon Saturday. New ramps will be opening from the outer loop to Telegraph Road North and the Eisenhower Valley and from the inner loop to Telegraph Road North.

It would be best to avoid the interchange area beginning at 9 p.m. Friday. That's when workers will close the ramps from the outer loop Telegraph Road North and South and the from the inner loop to Telegraph Road North and Pershing Avenue. Telegraph Road will be narrowed to one lane in each direction for road striping. Paving operations, unrelated to the ramp openings, will close the ramp from Telegraph Road North to the outer loop.

All the new ramps are scheduled to be in their final configuration, with all lanes reopened, by noon Saturday.

Metro weekend delays
Orange Line: Riders between Vienna and West Falls Church should add at least half an hour to their normal travel time from 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, through the rail system's midnight closing on Sunday. Throughout the weekend, every other Orange Line train in the direction of Vienna will terminate at West Falls Church and return to New Carrollton.

Blue/Yellow lines: Riders between Pentagon City and Braddock Road should add at least half an hour to their travel time from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, Blue Line trains will operate about every half hour between Franconia-Springfield and Largo.

During the same hours, Yellow Line trains will operate about every half hour between Huntington and Mount Vernon.

Green Line: Riders between Branch Avenue and Naylor Road should add at least 20 minutes to their travel time from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

I-66 closings overnight
The Dulles Metrorail construction will shut westbound Interstate 66 at the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) tonight and continuing overnights through Saturday. The closings will occur between midnight and 5 a.m., so they shouldn't be a major problem for traffic, but they will involve an extensive detour.

Eastbound I-66 will remain open throughout the work. In the zone where the closing will occur, workers are building large concrete structures between piers over the Interstate. These are going to support the new rail tracks that will lead from the Orange Line through Tysons Corner and out to Reston in the first stage of the Dulles Metrorail project, scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Sunday/Monday delays in Leesburg
Dominion Virginia Power crews are once again scheduled to pull wires across roadways in the Leesburg area. Traffic will be stopped for up to 20 minutes at a time from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday just west of Battlefield Parkway and from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday at the intersection of Battlefield Parkway and Market Street (Route 7 Business).

I-95/Baltimore Beltway
On Sunday and Monday nights, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., the Maryland State Highway Administration plans to temporarily close the ramps from I-95 to the inner loop of the Baltimore Beltway.

During the next month, work will be completed on a new left lane along the ramp from northbound and southbound I-95 to westbound I-695 (the inner loop). The new ramp lane is scheduled to open in late October.

Between now and then, there will be more temporarily closings of ramps and lanes along southbound I-95 and the I-695 inner loop between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights.

Security around Pentagon
Because the Pentagon Force Protection Agency is extending employee checkpoints farther from the building Mondays through Fridays, people who use the Metrorail station and the Pentagon Transit Center will encounter a new pedestrian pattern neaer the main visitor entrance starting this Monday.

The security zone expansion will restrict public access to two center walkways leading to the Pentagon's visitor entrance. These new restrictions are scheduled to remain in place till new screening facilities are finished in 2012. Watch for new signs to guide people between the train station and the bus center.

Next month, the Pentagon is scheduled to install a temporary canopy over the walkway that leads to the Metrorail station's south escalators. Until the canopy is installed, a temporary sign inside the station will direct people to the north escalators during bad weather.

Reversible lane scheduled continued
The southbound reversible lanes on I-95/395 will remain open to all southbound traffic until midnight Mondays through Thursdays through Oct. 31, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced.

VDOT likes the way this summer schedule worked out since it was put in place in July. The department says this gives southbound motorists an additional three hours to use the lanes and helps ease delays while crews repave I-95 between the Fairfax County Parkway and Route 123 in Woodbridge.

The reversible lanes will re-open northbound at 2 a.m. The northbound schedule is not affected. The reversible lanes will continue to close at 10 a.m. so they can be reopened to southbound traffic at noon.

These lanes are reserved for High Occupancy Vehicles during rush hours, and there is no change in the HOV schedule. HOV-3 (three or more people in a vehicle) remains in effect from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

11th Street Bridge
Off-peak lane closings in both directions are occurring in both directions on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, I-295/DC 295 and local streets around the 11th Street Bridge reconstruction project.

Drivers may encounter these closings, and resulting congestion, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays:
-- One lane in each direction of I-295/DC 295 between Pennsylvania Avenue and Howard Road.
-- One lane of the inbound 11th Street Bridge and connecting ramp to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.
-- One lane of the outbound 11th Street Bridge and the connecting ramp to southbound I-295/DC 295.
-- One lane of the ramp from northbound I-295/DC 295 to the inbound 11th Street Bridge.
-- One lane of the ramp from the eastbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway to the outbound 11th Street Bridge.
-- One lane in each direction of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway from the 6th Street exit to Pennsylvania Avenue.
-- The right lane of westbound Good Hope Road between 13th Street SE and Anacostia Drive.
-- One lane of N Street between 12th and 11th Street SE.
-- Lanes in both directions on O Street SE, resulting in a shared lane between 11th and 12th streets SE. (Watch for flagger directing traffic.)

Ohio Drive
The reconstruction of the roadway by the National Park Service is scheduled to be done in late October. Monday through Friday, morning rush hours (6 a.m.-10 a.m.), Ohio Drive will be two lanes of inbound traffic only. During the morning rush, westbound Independence Avenue will be closed beyond 17th Street. Traffic has been advised to detour onto 15th or 17th Street or use alternate routes.

Off-peak hours will have one lane in each direction. Afternoon rush hours (3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.), Ohio Drive will be two lanes outbound only.

By Robert Thomson  | September 24, 2010; 7:20 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Construction, Driving, Events, Metro, Weekend Work  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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Why does VDOT put up lane closure notices beyond the point of no return?
Every night this week they have closed three lanes on the outer loop of the Beltway at Tyson's Corner and every night the traffic has backed up and taken thirty minutes to cover two miles.
When drivers cross the American Legion bridge from Maryland into Virginia, they immediately encounter exit 43 to the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Unfortunately that's the only ramp to exit 44, Georgetown Pike, as well. The next exit from the Beltway is at exit 45, the Dulles Access Road.
The warning sign for the closed lanes and the starting point of the orange cones is under the overpass for the GW Memorial Parkway, about 1/4 mile past the exit.
As a motorist on the Beltway at 11:00 PM this week, I can say it is comforting to know that traffic has stopped due to construction and not some terrible accident, but it would have been nice if the lane closure notice had been erected at some point where I could have taken a detour.
When VDOT blocks lanes, it appears that they erect signs because they've been told that that is what is done, but they don't appear to understand why they need to erect the signs and consequently they put up the signs where it's too late for the motorist to use the information.
Unfortunately, this is typical. Whenever VDOT restricts traffic flow on a limited-access road, they put up the warning signs beyond the point at which a driver can take a detour. The only time VDOT erects detour signs is when the road is closed completely.
I have never seen anything like this when driving in other states. Unless the lane closure is on a remote stretch of rural interstate, the local road authorities erect informational and detour signs well ahead of the last exit before the construction.
If the North Carolina DOT were to arrive in Northern Virginia this afternoon, they would erect signs all along westbound I-66 in Arlington telling motorists bound for Falls Church to take US29. Under VDOT, there will be a backup of panicked motorists at the 267 exit, and a few of them will end up at Dulles airport wondering what happened.

Posted by: HaymarketObserver | September 24, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if part of your problem with the particular location you mention is due to the Exit 43/44 gore point being so close to the bridge over the Potomac. Unlike in many other river situations where borders are located in the middle of the waterway, the Virginia/Maryland state line (and the Virginia/DC and West Virginia/Maryland lines as well) is located at the average high water point on the Virginia shoreline (this dates back to both colonies' original charters from the English kings; as to DC, it's that way because DC's current territory was all taken from Maryland and the same rule was applied, and as to West Virginia it's because that state is properly part of Virginia and so the state line already existed). All the islands in the river belong to Maryland (or DC) as well. That means that the Beltway crosses from Maryland into Virginia at the point where the bridge passes above that average high water point. VDOT--or, in this case, more likely Fluor and Transurban, the two companies who are building the HOT lanes--probably doesn't have approval from Maryland to erect orange signs in Maryland's territory. Assuming that's true, it leaves almost no space within Virginia territory to throw up warning signs advising people to take that first exit.

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 24, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Can you elaborate on your comment in today's column regarding improvements to the FXCO Parkway/Fair Lakes Parkway intersection which is planned for later this year? Is this the long-awaited (rumored?) flyover project? If so, that is great news, although I hope that it does not really take 3 years.

The at-grade intersections are clearly the biggest bottleneck on the FXCO Parkway, but I can tolerate the relatively short delays at places like Popes Head Road and West Ox Road. Fair Lakes, however, is another story and it seems clear that no one really knew how that area was going to develop when the roadway was planned.

Now if someone could just find a way to eliminate the light on Route 28 that is just north of I-66 I would be a very happy commuter.

Posted by: TheOneWhoHurtsMost | September 26, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

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