The weekend and beyond
After a rainy and very windy Friday, travelers should encounter a calmer weekend, with Sunday looking like the better of the days for getting around. Some travelers might be planning to take their first test drive along Maryland's new Intercounty Connector. In the District, Lady Gaga has left the building but there's a weekend of hockey, basketball and Bon Jovi at Verizon Center. For those seeking a longer-range weekend, check the Escapes column on Virginia's Peaks of Otter Winery.
Here's a look at some of the late-winter travel obstacles you might encounter in your local journeys.
Metro weekend delays
This maintenance work starts at 10 p.m. Friday and continues through the train system's midnight closing on Sunday.
Red Line: Riders between Shady Grove and Twinbrook should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Trains will be sharing a single track around a work zone at Rockville Station, where the platform is under reconstruction.
Riders between New York Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Work continues on the bridges outside the Rhode Island Avenue Station. (This will go on for a few more months.)
On Saturday and Sunday, Red Line trains will leave the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont about every 15 minutes. From 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day, trains will operate more frequently -- about every seven to eight minutes -- between Grosvenor and New York Avenue.
Blue/Orange lines: Riders between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory should add 20 minutes to their normal travel time. Metro will be installing the cables that will eventually expand cell phone coverage through the underground part of the system.
Blue/Yellow lines: Riders between Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon City should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Metro is upgrading the third rail in that area.
Green Line: Riders between Georgia Avenue and Fort Totten should add 20 minutes to their travel time. Workers will be welding new rails.
On Saturday and Sunday, Green Line trains will operate about every 18 minutes apart. Blue, Orange and Yellow Line trains will operate about every 20 minutes apart. Throughout the weekend, all Yellow Line trains will operate between Huntington and Mount Vernon Square.
Beltway in Tysons Corner
Saturday is the only night through March when there's no work scheduled on bringing the new Metrorail line across the Capital Beltway at Route 123. Sunday through Friday nights, three lanes of the inner loop (northbound I-495) are scheduled to close from 11 p.m. through 5 a.m. That leaves only one lane open, so expect traffic congestion.
In addition, the exit ramps from the outer loop to Route 123 will be closed. In preparation for these closures, crews will begin to shut down some lanes as early as 9:30 p.m.
Here's the schedule:
9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Crews begin tapering for the closing of the right lane, about a half mile before the Route 7 exit. The exit ramps at Route 7 are not affected by the rail project work.
10:30 p.m. Workers begin to close the second right lane near the Route 7 bridge and the third lane before the Route 123 interchange. The ramps to and from Route 123 also will close at this time.
5 a.m. All lanes and exits to Route 123 will be reopened to through traffic.
The closings of the ramps to Route 123 results in this detour for Beltway drivers:
Continue north, exit at Georgetown Pike (Route 193), turn around at Georgetown Pike and enter the outer loop (southbound I-495), then use the Route 123 exits from the outer loop.
11th Street Bridge
The District Department of Transportation plans to close the left two lanes on the inbound 11th Street Bridge from midnight to 5 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, to accommodate construction work on the new bridge spans. The right two lanes on the inbound bridge will remain open to traffic.
Rebuilding Georgetown streets
The District has begun reconstruction of O and P streets between 37th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Work includes replacing the aging water mains, but there's also a historic element: The streetcar tracks -- probably the most noticeable feature of these streets -- will be removed, restored and reinstalled, along with other elements of the streetcar system.
This isn't part of the plan to create a new streetcar network. It's a historic restoration of a final vestige of the old system that operated till 1962. But when the restoration is done in fall 2012, the streets should be easier to drive on.
At least one lane of through traffic will remain open at all times during the reconstruction. To accomplish that, the project will focus on one block and one side of the street at a time.
Maryland bridge inspections
The Maryland State Highway Administration is continuing its routine inspections of highway bridges, resulting in temporary lane closoings. From 4:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, double lane closings are scheduled for northbound Interstate 270 at the Falls Road (Route 189) overpass.
Maryland road work
These are some of the road work projects resulting in lane closings in the Maryland suburbs:
* Watch for single lane closings along University Boulevard between Arcola Avenue and Colesville Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
* Watch for single lane closings on Georgia Avenue between Norbeck Road and Glenallan Avenue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays.
* Watch for single and double lane closings on East West Highway at Queens Chapel Road from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays.
Testing the Intercounty Connector
If you do use this first weekend after the connector's opening to check it out, here are a few things to be aware of:
* There's no toll till March 7.
* Drivers are showing a tendency to speed as they encounter the rare sight of three open lanes with light traffic. There are plenty of police cars out to inhibit such behavior.
* On the western end, you can proceed to Shady Grove Road or Route 355 or I-370. Heading east, the exits are at Georgia Avenue and Norbeck Road. During the week, I encountered stop and go traffic on the ramp up to the traffic signal at Norbeck Road and on Norbeck Road. The only other traffic issue I observed was the need to move right quickly to reach Shady Grove Road from the ICC lanes. We'd like to hear about your experiences with the new road.
| February 25, 2011; 7:20 PM ET
Categories: Congestion, Construction, Driving, Metro, Transit, Weekend Work | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond
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