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Posted at 7:50 AM ET, 01/31/2011

The week ahead for traffic, transit

By Robert Thomson

Construction updates | Travel tips l Capital Weather Gang

The middle of the week is likely to be messy for travelers, according to the Capital Weather Gang, and the Tuesday morning rush may be tricky. But it's not the dire outlook we faced last Wednesday. The highway departments have a robust schedule for the week, though that too depends on the weather. Here's a look.

Beltway/Telegraph Road
Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the left lane of the Capital Beltway's outer loop will be closed at Telegraph Road for construction related to the rebuilding of the interchange by the Wilson Bridge project.

11th Street Bridge
The District Department of Transportation may close lanes during off-peak travel hours on the 11th Street bridges, ramps, portions of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, Interstate 295/DC 295 and local streets from today through March 22 for 11th Street Bridge project construction.

On weeknights and some Sunday evenings, the project could close up to two of the four lanes on either the inbound or outbound 11th Street Bridge and one lane on ramps on to deliver steel girders or do other work, the transportation department says.

When that happens, workers will close one bridge lane at 8 p.m. and a second lane and one ramp lane beginning at 9 p.m. All lanes will be reopened by 5 o'clock the next morning.

From 9:30 a.m. to 5 o'clock the next morning, both lanes of N Street SE will be closed between 12th and 11th Street SE. A detour will be in place, so follow the signs.

Paper passes
Saturday marked the last day bus riders could use paper passes. Since October, Metrobus and many of the region's other bus systems have been switching the Seven-Day Bus Pass to the plastic SmarTrip cards. Saturday is the final day of the transition phase.

A Seven-Day Bus Pass downloaded to SmarTrip costs $15 for the regular bus pass and $7.50 for the senior/disabled bus pass. Unlike paper bus passes, which always took effect on Sundays and were valid through the following Saturday, the new version on SmarTrip is valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited travel on regular Metrobuses and on regional bus systems, including ART, DASH, the Circulator, CUE, Fairfax Connector, Ride On and TheBus.

Riders can load two bus passes at a time onto their SmarTrip cards. When the first pass expires after seven days, the second pass will be ready to activate.

Great Falls bridge
The re-opening of the Leigh Mill Road Bridge in Great Falls has been delayed until next week because of the recent cold and wet weather, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

The bridge over Difficult Run has been closed to traffic since July 12 for rehabilitation. The original schedule called for re-opening by Labor Day. Then in August, VDOT engineers decided that the structure was in worse condition than previous inspections had revealed. So the entire substructure had to be demolished and replaced, delaying the re-opening.

With the new delay because of the weather, project managers now anticipate opening the bridge on Monday.

HOT lanes night work
Like other big projects in the region, the High Occupancy Toll lanes construction was slowed by the past week's weather problems, but for the week ahead, there's plenty of overnight work scheduled. These are the zones to watch out for:
* Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) west at I-495
* Dulles Toll Road (Route 267) east to I-495 north
* I-495 north at Leesburg Pike (Route 7)
* I-495 north and south at Lee Highway (Route 29)
* I-495 north and south at Gallows Road (Route 650)
* I-495 north at Little River Turnpike (Route 236)
* I-495 north and south at Little River Turnpike (Route 236)
* I-495 north and south at Braddock Road (Route 620)

I-95 widening project
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to close the ramp from I-95 south to Route 1 south (Exit 161) from 10 p.m. Tuesday through 5 a.m. Wednesday so workers will have room to erect steel beams that are part of the I-95 widening project. The ramp from the HOV lanes to Route 1 south also will be closed at 10 p.m.

Motorists on I-95 south headed to Route 1 south will be detoured to the Prince William Parkway exit (Exit 158B), follow signs back to I-95 north to Route 123 east (Exit 160) to Route 1. Motorists on the HOV lanes headed to Route 1 south will take the exit to Route 123, left at the traffic signal on Route 123 to Route 1. The HOV reversible lanes will remain open toward southbound direction until 3 a.m. instead of midnight during this work.

The right lane on I-95 north also will close in the overnight hours. By 5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Route 1 ramp and the northbound travel lane will be open.

Shady Grove platform restored
The Metrorail platform at Shady Grove is in full use again, following completion of the month-long first phase of a repair project that had restricted use of the platform to a single side, the transit authority announced.

Workers have now replaced deteriorated sections of the platform edges with new concrete. In the next phase, set for this spring, they will return to replace the platform tiles.

VRE hearings
Virginia Railway Express plans six hearings starting this week on proposals to change some fare structures and policies.

Cyclists are concerned about a proposal that would limit them to bringing aboard collapsible bikes only, as the trains get more crowded. VRE also proposes to reduce the step-up fee for riders boarding certain Amtrak trains. It would go from $10 to $5, a change VRE hopes will ease that crowding on its trains. Another VRE proposal would eliminate the group fare discount.

The first hearing is Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline St. in Fredericksburg. The others are scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, 14700 Potomac Mills Rd.; 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at Manassas City Hall, 9027 Center St.; noon on Feb. 16 at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave. NW; 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at Burke Centre Conservancy, 5701 Roberts Pkwy.; and noon on Feb. 24 at VRE headquarters, 1500 King St., Alexandria.

By Robert Thomson  | January 31, 2011; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Congestion, Construction, Driving, Metro, Transit  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, The week ahead  
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