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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Inner loop partially open in Md.

By Mark Berman
Mark Berman

1:40 p.m. Update: The Maryland State Highway Administration says three lanes are now open on the inner loop.

However, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has issued a boil water advisory for a broad swath of Prince George's County.

The order affects customers in an area that extends roughly from the District line to Route 301 and from just south of Central Avenue to Indian Head Highway.

Here's a map of the area.

Officials said the order is a precaution due to the loss of pressure in the system, which increases the risk of contamination. Water for drinking, ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and food preparation should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute and cooled, WSSC officials said. The order also applies to water used by pets.

Officials said the order will be in effect until pressure is restored in the system and water quality has been confirmed through tests.

11 A.M. UPDATE: The Maryland State Highway Administration says the two left lanes of the inner loop have reopened at Central Avenue. Use caution in the area. Crews were treating the area with salt and sand, but conditions may still be icy.

10:50 A.M. UPDATE: The inner loop is still closed at Central Avenue due to this morning's water main break.

Do you have photos of the water main break or the traffic impacts? Please send them to


The March for Life is going to cause some traffic issues this morning and throughout the day. Per Dr. Gridlock: At about 11 a.m., people at the Verizon Center will march to the National Mall. They will go south on 7th Street NW, which will be closed to traffic during the event, as will all streets that lead directly to it. The streets will re-open as the procession passes.

The March for Life rally on the mall will begin at about 11 a.m. between Fourth and Seventh streets. Fourth Street will be closed at about 9:30 a.m. between Independence Avenue SW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The street will remain closed until the event is over. At about 1:30 p.m., the participants will march to the Supreme Court by this route: North on Fourth Street from the mall, east on Constitution Avenue NW and south on First Street NE to the court. See route map.

Those streets will be closed to traffic until the last of the participants has passed the intersection. In addition, streets that lead directly to the march route will be closed to through traffic.

The effect on local travel may be greatest after the events end around 5 p.m. or later. Traffic delays are likely on Independence and Constitution avenues, and on streets near the Smithsonian, L'Enfant Plaza, Capitol South and Federal Triangle Metro stations. (Those are the closest stations for the rally and march.)

8:55 A.M. UPDATE:

Traffic signals are reportedly out at 13th and Monroe streets in Northeast Washington and 10th Street and Independence Avenue in Southwest Washington.

The inner loop accident has been cleared at Telegraph Road. All lanes have reopened, but there are considerable backups due to the road closure and you can expect those to remain for a while.

But there are other inner loop problems in Virginia: There's a vehicle fire on the inner loop at Leesburg Pike, and it's blocking the right center lane and right lane.

The inner loop is still closed at Central Avenue due to this morning's water main break.
8:40 A.M. UPDATE:

The water main break that has blocked the inner loop at Central Avenue has closed the Census Bureau, too. Ed O'Keefe has more.

8:35 A.M. UPDATE:

Traffic signals are reportedly out on 7th and H streets in Northwest Washington. Use caution in the area.

There's an accident on I-395 South at 6th Street in Southeast Washington. Expect delays.

8:30 A.M. UPDATE:

An update on the inner loop accident at Telegraph Road: The right center lane has reopened, so now traffic is getting by on the two right lanes. The left lane and left center lane remain blocked.

8:13 A.M. UPDATE:

Updating you on the inner loop closure at Central Avenue: Crews are ready to salt I-95 in area of water main break after the large water main is shut off, the Maryland State Highway Administration just tweeted.

8:10 A.M. UPDATE:

Traffic is still only getting by on the right lane of the inner loop at Telegraph Road.

An accident on U.S. 50 East before MD 201 is blocking one of the shoulders and could cause delays.

7:45 A.M. UPDATE:

An accident on I-95 North at Telegraph Road is blocking the left lane, left center lane and right center lane. Traffic is only getting by in the right lane. Expect massive delays.

There are power lines on fire in the 5900 block of MacArthur Boulevard in Northwest Washington, and this could cause traffic issues in the vicinity, according to D.C. Fire and EMS.

7:35 A.M. UPDATE:

The disabled vehicle has been cleared from15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest Washington.

There's an accident on U.S. 50 West at MD 295, so expect some issues in that vicinity.

7:15 A.M. UPDATE:

The inner loop remains blocked at Central Avenue, but those aren't your only Beltway headaches: The inner loop is also significantly backed up at Arlington Boulevard.

There's a disabled vehicle at 15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest Washington, so expect some issues around that intersection.

6:55 A.M. UPDATE:

The accident on I-66 East has been cleared and the left lane of the ramp to George Mason Drive reopened.

I-66 East is pretty backed up approaching Nutley Street.

I-395 North is also congested as you get close to Seminary Road.

6:35 A.M. UPDATE:

An accident on I-66 East is blocking the left lane of the off-ramp to George Mason Drive in Arlington.

6:25 A.M. UPDATE:

The inner loop of the Beltway blocked at Central Avenue and doesn't look like it'll reopen anytime soon. So here are some alternate routes, depending on where you are going:

-- If you have a significant trip on the Beltway and need to get close to or into Virginia, one option is to get off the Beltway at U.S. 50 and take that road west to 295/Anacostia Freeway. You could take that south all the way to the Beltway and hop on right next to the Potomac. (Downsides: Westbound U.S. 50/New York Avenue could become very congested very quickly; 295 will be no picnic later in the morning.)

-- Here's another option that could deposit you on the Beltway at Pennsylvania Avenue, if that's closer to where you are heading: Get off on U.S. 50 westbound or westbound Landover Road. Take Martin Luther King Highway/704 south, and it turns into Southern Avenue; take a left on Pennsylvania Avenue and follow that east onto the Beltway.

-- If you'd rather stay outside the Beltway, a third option is to head far east: Take U.S. 301 south and hop on Pennsylvania Avenue from all the way out there. It's out of the way, but it avoids the congestion and gets you back onto the Beltway far away from the biggest traffic nightmares.

6:15 A.M. UPDATE:

New Hampshire Avenue is blocked between Oneida and Quackenbos streets as well as between 3rd and Peabody streets in Northeast due to police activity. Avoid the area.

6:10 A.M. UPDATE:

Debbi Wilgoren has more on the water main break: Major traffic backups were reported as a result of the break. Cars are being rerouted onto Central Avenue westbound to Hampton Park Boulevard to Richie Marlboro Road, then back onto the Beltway.

WRC-TV (Channel 4) reported that the water spilling from the broken pipe was freezing on the multi-lane highway. Pre-dawn temperatures were about 15 degrees.

Lyn Riggins, a spokeswoman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, said the pipe that ruptured was a major distribution main, 54 inches in diameter.The site of the break appears to be a short distance from the Beltway, Riggins said, with water flowing down a slight incline onto the highway. The cause of the break was not immediately clear.

"Our focus, our priority right now is getting the main shut down, finding the valves, so we can stop the water from flowing," Riggins said at 5:55 a.m.

She said the pipe apparently ruptured around 4 a.m. Customers living south of Central Avenue may experience low water pressure as a result of the break.


Good morning, commuters. Check back here throughout the morning rush hour for updates on the headaches and problems awaiting you as you head out to work today:

A water main break has closed the inner loop of the Beltway at Central Avenue in Largo, the Post's Debbi Wilgoren reports. All southbound lanes of I-95 were closed starting just before 5 a.m. Water pouring from the broken pipe freezing on the multi-lane highway, according to live traffic reports. Cars were being rerouted onto Central Avenue westbound, then onto Hampton Park Boulevard and Richie Marlboro Road.

A utility problem is blocking two of three northbound lanes on Colesville Road at Sligo Creek Parkway in Silver Spring.

By Mark Berman  | January 24, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Capital Beltway, Commuting, Congestion  
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Next: Cold disrupts Amtrak service


OMG, this week is off to a TERRIBLE start. Thankfully, I telecommute today, starting in about 1 minute.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 24, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

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