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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 01/21/2011

The weekend and beyond

By Robert Thomson

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

Travelers dodged the snow, but they won't escape the cold and wind in the D.C. area this weekend. There's not much scheduled in the way of outdoor activities that might interfere with getting around. At Verizon Center, the Wizards play the Phoenix Suns at 7 p.m. Friday and the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. Saturday. Metro has a more modest program of track work this weekend. There are no major road work programs scheduled for the daytime, but there are some lane and ramp closings.

Metrorail weekend delays
Maintenance projects on the Red and Orange lines will affect service from 10 p.m., Friday to the midnight closing on Sunday.

Red Line: Riders between Friendship Heights and Medical Center should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Trains will be sharing a single track around a zone where workers will replace fasteners, repair tunnel leaks and install communications cables that will expand cell phone in the tunnels.

On Saturday and Sunday, trains are scheduled to leave about every 20 minutes from the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, there will be more frequent service in the center of the line, between Friendship Heights and Silver Spring.

Orange Line: Riders between East Falls Church and West Falls Church should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Metro workers will be replacing rail and insulators. Meanwhile, the Dulles Metrorail project will be working on the connections that will eventually link the new line to the Orange Line.

I-66 overnight closing
Westbound Interstate 66 at the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) will be closed from 11 p.m. Saturday till 5 a.m. Sunday for work on the Dulles Metrorail project. Through traffic will be detoured to the westbound Dulles Connector Road, then to southbound Route 123 toward Tysons Corner, to a right turn onto the ramp to the outer loop of the Capital Beltway, toward Richmond. Drivers can then rejoin I-66 from the Beltway.

To avoid the closing, drivers bound for destinations inside the Capital Beltway may find alternate routes via other local westbound roads. They can exit I-66 before the I-66/Dulles Connector Road split. For example, traffic bound for the Falls Church City, Broad Street and Idylwood areas can exit before the detour and use Route 29 (Washington Street) to connect with Broad Street (westbound Route 7).

Dulles Toll Road
On Saturday and Sunday, from 7 a.m. until noon each day, the Virginia Department of Transportation will close a ramp from the eastbound Dulles Toll Road leading to the Capital Beltway to allow space for bridge pile-driving work on the High Occupancy Toll lanes project.

On Saturday the closing involves the ramp to I-495 south. Drivers will be directed to continue east on the Dulles Toll Road to Exit 19 for Route 123 south, then turn right at the traffic signal onto Route 123 south and follow signage to I-495 south.

On Sunday, the closing involves the ramp to I-495 north. Drivers will be directed to I-495 south, to Exit 46 B for Route 123 north, then follow the signage to turn left onto I-495 north.

Westpark Bridge
The Westpark Bridge in Tysons Corner is scheduled to be closed some nights through the next few weeks until the Dulles Metrorail project's work on the bridge bridge is done and the blue and yellow construction truss moves west toward Tysons Boulevard. The closings will occur from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Maryland bridge inspection
The Maryland State Highway Administration is continuing its safety inspections of highway bridges, requiring some lane closings. Drivers on northbound I-95 at the Cherry Hill Road bridge in Prince George's County will encounter alternating double left and double right lane closings on Saturday from 5 a.m. to noon.

H Street NE
For the next few weeks, the 700 block of 12th Street NE from H Street south to G Street NE will be restricted to southbound traffic only as part of the H Street rehabilitation project. The usual two lanes of traffic on 12th Street will be reduced to one lane. This will allow the contractor to install streetcar tracks on H Street and complete work across the intersection.

Northbound motorists can use 11th Street or 13th Street as alternatives.

The District Department of Transportation also plans to close the south side of the Eighth Street intersection with H Street during the day today and Saturday to accommodate streetcar track work in the intersection.

The work will be done from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday and from 7:30 a.m to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The 700 block of Eighth Street, just south of H Street, will be open to local residential traffic only.

Foggy Bottom escalators
On Monday, Metro will start replacing the three old, often-out-of-service escalators between 23rd Street NW and the station mezzanine at Foggy Bottom. Also, workers will add a staircase adjacent to that bank of escalators between 23rd Street NW and the station mezzanine. Above it all will be a canopy to better protect the works from the weather.

This year-long project will cost $6 million. Foggy Bottom's escalators have long been cursed by riders, because they must all funnel through one station exit. Frequently, they would find two of the aging escalators out of service for repairs. That would require Metro to turn off the remaining escalator so riders could use it as a staircase. That created long lines on the mezzanine and street as people made their way slowly up and down.

During the escalator replacement at Foggy Bottom, workers will take one escalator out of service at a time. Another one of the three will go up, and the other one down.

Manassas overpass
For a few weeks, drivers may encounter construction delays in either direction on Route 28 (Nokesville Road) near Wellington Road. One of two lanes will be closed between Technology Drive and Cockrell Road through the first week of February. As an alternative, drivers can use Godwin Drive and Sudley Road.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is building a four-lane bridge on Route 28 over Wellington Road and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks in Manassas to eliminate the at-grade crossing. On a typical weekday, 20 trains and about 23,500 vehicles make their way through that area.

The project is scheduled to be done in November 2012. It was advanced five years on Virginia's long-term plan thanks to the addition of $18.3 million in federal stimulus money. The total price will be about $44 million.

In eliminating the at-grade crossing, the new bridge also will allow the number of railroad tracks to increase from one to three, which holds the potential for improved VRE service,

March for Life
The annual March for Life is Monday. D.C. police announced several street closings and some parking restrictions, but drivers also should be alert for large groups of people in downtown Washington, around the National Mall and at the Supreme Court.

Beginning at about 9 a.m. Monday, there will be a Youth Rally and Mass for Life at Verizon Center. At about 11 a.m., the 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.

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.

State of the Union
On Tuesday evening, traffic restrictions will be in effect around the Capitol. President Obama is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union Address at 9 p.m. These areas are scheduled to be closed from 7 p.m. until the end of the event:

• D Street NE between Second Street NE and Louisiana Avenue NW
• C Street NE between Second Street NE and Louisiana Avenue NW
• Constitution Avenue between Second Street NE and Louisiana Avenue NW
• Delaware Avenue between Columbus Circle and Constitution Avenue NE
• New Jersey Avenue between Louisiana Avenue and D Street NE
• Pennsylvania Avenue between First Street and Third Street NW
• East Capitol Street between Second Street and First Street NE/SE
• First Street between Columbus Circle NE and C Street SE
• First Street between Louisiana Avenue NW and Washington Avenue SW
• Maryland Avenue SW between First Street and Third Street SW
• Independence Avenue between Second Street SE and Washington Avenue SW
• C Street between First Street SE and Washington Avenue SW
• Delaware Avenue between Washington Avenue SW and C Street SW
• New Jersey Avenue between Independence Avenue and D Street SE
• South Capitol Street between Independence Avenue and D Street SE/SW

11th Street Bridge
The District Department of Transportation plans to close the outbound 11th Street Bridge and some ramps overnight Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate overhead girder construction work for the new spans rising between the two old ones. The closings will start at 10 o'clock each night and continue till 5 a.m. the next morning.

The set-up activity for the closings will begin at 8 o'clock each night. If the weather turns bad, the work will be rescheduled during the same overnight hours on Sunday, Jan. 30.

During the closures, detours will be posted for motorists who want to reach southbound Interstate 295 or Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. To reach I-295, drivers will be directed to travel the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to either South Capitol Street or Pennsylvania Avenue, where they can reach 295. To reach Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, drivers will be sent east on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to Pennsylvania Avenue, south on DC 295/Interstate 295 to the Howard Road exit and then east on Howard Road SE.

Great Falls bridge reopening
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to re-open the one-lane bridge on Leigh Mill Road over Difficult Run in Great Falls by noon on Jan. 27. The bridge has been closed to traffic since July 12 rehabilitation. It was originally scheduled to re-open by Labor Day, but in August VDOT said, its engineers determined that the bridge abutments and wing walls were in worse condition than previous inspections revealed, and the entire substructure would have to be demolished and replaced.

The new bridge will be the same length, elevation and alignment as the old one, but will be 15 feet wide rather than 13 feet to more safely accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.

Parking restrictions by National Gallery
Starting next Friday, Jan. 28, curb parking will be barred and the sidewalk closed for three years on the north side of Madison Drive between Third and Fourth streets NW, near the East Building of the National Gallery of Art.

The curb parking and the sidewalk on the south side, closest to the National Mall, is not affected. But this project, which involves the refurbishing and reconstruction at the National Gallery, also will close the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue NW on the north side of the National Gallery.

[This post has been updated.]

By Robert Thomson  | January 21, 2011; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion, Construction, Driving, Metro, Weekend Work  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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