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Early Experiences on New Wilson Bridge

From Dr. Gridlock: First, thanks for all the welcoming comments and good questions this afternoon on an inaugural Live Online discussion. I think in the future I won't gas on so much and will give more room for people's questions.

This was an interesting question I didn't post during the Live Online, so I thought I'd offer it here:

"Del Ray, Va.: I drive to and from Suitland every day over the Wilson Bridge and have done for the last seven years. Since the opening of the new bridge span, my morning ride has gotten easier and the trip home is much worse. I am on the Beltway for the shortest possible time, from Route 1 in Alexandria to St. Barnabas Road in Prince George's County, and the bridge is the only thing that has changed. Most mornings the eastbound merge is smooth and traffic is moving at or near the speed limit. A one mile backup in the evening is normal and two or more miles is not uncommon. What gives? Has evening traffic been reduced by drivers taking alternate routes to avoid the bridge construction and now they're back?"

Alex Lee, community relations manager on the bridge project, got right back to me after checking with the project's incident manager, who said:

"This time of year there are more people travelling through the I-95 corridor (vacationers). Also, school is out, so the morning commuters are reduced by approximately ten percent. Those ten percent are out and about in the
afternoon. So his observations are correct: less in the morning, and during the evening commute, more people leave work about the same time (5:00/5:30 PM)."

I had a lot of questions and comments about the Wilson Bridge project, so I thought I could offer this reminder:
It isn't done.

The first of the two new spans opened this summer. That's six lanes, plus emergency shoulders. Completion of the first span allows the project managers to shut down the 45-year-old bridge and demolish it. That clears the way for completion of the second new span, scheduled to open in 2008. Meanwhile, work continues on the four interchanges near the bridge in Maryland and Virginia.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 31, 2006; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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