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Wilson Bridge Changes

By the end of this weekend, the old Wilson Bridge will no longer carry drivers. They'll all switch over to the new span (half of the Beltway is already there) and the old one will come down. In its place will be a second new span and by the time that's completed in two years the bridge will have doubled in size. The promise of all this is that those nasty bridge delays should be a thing of the past, at least for about 30 seconds before a bunch more development adds a bunch more drivers.

In any case, it got me to thinking about what traffic improvements have actually made my commute better. It's a radical thought, I know. When I used to do the drive from D.C. to Manassas, the commute was made easier by a new interchange where Route 29 hits Route 28. That elminated one particularly frustrating light, but was kind of dwarfed by the other dozen or so long and frustrating lights on 28 between I-66 and Manassas. Nowadays the biggest change in my commute has been the addition of the walkway time counters in District intersections. I now know exactly how long I have to cross the street, which saves a whole lot of frettin' in those wide intersections.

But that's pretty much it for me. I've been in this area for 12 years and I can think of two relatively minor traffic changes that have directly improved my commute. Yikes.

What about you guys? Has anything been done that has directly and noticeably improved your commute?

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 11, 2006; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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Um, might want to remove the first entry.

DC DOT needs to take another look at their countdown pedestrian timers. I've seen several of them jump suddenly to zero. Just last week, the one at 7th and F, NW, went from 16 to 0, and the one at 12th and H went from 33 to 0. Sort of defeats the point.

Posted by: nashpaul | July 11, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

1. Agree, the first post was probably intended for the tinfoil hat section.
2. VRE - Virginia Railway Express - has been a godsend. My commute from Woodbridge to Crystal City is normally thirty minutes, during which I can have a cup and read the paper, and wave to the folks parked on I95. Thank you VRE.

Posted by: Bob | July 11, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

It hasn't affected my daily commute, but the Green Line has certainly improved my weekends - that lovely big empty parking lot a seven-minute drive from my house, then a metro line that takes me straight to museums, restaurants around Gallery Place, shopping and clubs on U St, and friends' houses in Columbia Heights - lovely.

Posted by: h3 | July 11, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Since I quit having to cross the Woodrow Wilson on a daily basis many years ago, I'd have to say the Green Line, which I use every weekday.

Now they just need to increase the size of the parking lots as they fill up every morning before 9AM (hours after I've parked).

Posted by: Rufus | July 11, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

The thing that's most noticably improved my commute has been the Route 28 interchange project. Traffic along 28 is much better than it was a couple of years ago, and by the time the Sterling Blvd. interchange is complete, the interchanges will be saving me a total of about 10 minutes a day.

I know phase two of the project will eliminate four more lights (Willard, Frying Pan, Innovation and Nokes), but what about the lights at the I-66 onramps and at Walney/Braddock? Eliminating those lights would go a long way towards reducing congestion on Route 28 southbound, where traffic headed for I-66 regularly backs up almost to Route 50.

Posted by: John | July 11, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

My commute home normally takes me down I-395 to the Beltway, then east to Van Dorn. The flyover ramp for southbound I-95 traffic going from the Wilson Bridge towards Richmond has made a huge difference even though I seldom have reason to use it, because it eliminated most of the merging back and forth in that short stretch between the Beltway and Old Keene Mill/Franconia. The elimination of that merging has massively reduced any backups or slowdowns further north on I-395. It will be interesting to see how things are when the project is finished next year.

The opening of the new flyover from southbound I-395 to the Outer Loop of the Beltway, eliminating the old loop-around ramp, has been great too because (1) it lets me exit I-395 sooner and (2) the old ramp was riddled with potholes and open pavement joints, whereas the new bridge is smooth.

So far, the Springfield Interchange has been the rare example of VDOT doing something well (with the exception of the highway signs, which remain of questionable adequacy).

Posted by: Rich | July 11, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Pat L | July 11, 2006 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I also think that the springfield interchange has been improved dramatically by the redirecting of the traffic patterns. Unfortunately they have only pushed the problem a mile further south. You now come to a stand still at the next exit because now all lanes from 95 south and 395 south merge back together. To make matters worse the lanes are reduced from 5 to 2 within a 1/2 mile stretch.

Posted by: Scott | July 11, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

My commute has never really been an issue. The biggest improvement I've ever made was learning more about the roads in and around the city and using trial and error to find the route with the least traffic.

That being said, the Cherry Hill/Randolph/MD 29 interchange has had the most overall impact on my other regular drives. That intersection was maddening, especially during rush hour.

Now, once the Montrose Parkway is completed...

Posted by: Dakota Pants | July 11, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't actually have anything to do with the Wilson Bridge, but I had to write it somewhere. I just wanted to say thank you to the woman on the blue line last night who broke up what was a rapidly escalating fight between two grown men. One of the men had pushed (or bumped) the other as the train became full. This lead to an argument full of swears and "Oh, you think you're a big tough guy?" The problem was, not only did it look like they were going to come to blows, there was also a child right behind them, listening wide eyed and looking scared. The woman, sitting in front of the child and barely looking up from her book said: "You may not realize this, but there is a child right behind you. Grow up." One of the men whined: "I'm not doing anything; he started it." She replied: "Well, both of you just knock it off." And they did. She deserves some praise for being the only one to speak up and for effectively ending a fight (I wasn't brave enough to say anything!)

Posted by: Annie | July 12, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

The additional lane on the exit from the outer loop of the beltway to the Dulles road has greatly improved my commute from Maryland to Merrifield.

I think that the higher gas prices have also helped to make the traffic lighter.

Posted by: Historian | July 12, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The pedestrian timers have an added benefit for drivers--at many lights, I know how long before they yellow comes.

Posted by: ah | July 12, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

When I'm waiting at a red light, the pedestrian timers allow me to watch to see when to shift into first gear to be ready to go when the light turns--a substitute for the four-cycle lights you see in the UK that have a combination red/yellow cycle to tell you the green is about to come on.

Now if only the pedestrians would learn that when the light flashes "Don't Walk" and shows five seconds, it does NOT mean that it's OK for them to start to walk across. Get back on the %&^$ curb!

Posted by: Rich | July 12, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I can think of two places where for under $1000 probably they could make huge improvements on my way to and from work.

1) International Drive trying to turn left onto 123. The light is long enough for 7 cars per turn lane. 3-5 of them have cut in after the solid white line. Putting yellow plastic barrier things up would prevent the dozens of cars that cut in every few minutes and allow us non-cheaters a calm way through. Seriously, if you didn't get to turn on 123, you can h it 495 from rt 7 in about 3 blocks.

2) Braddock Rd & Burke Lake rd, making the right from Burke Lake onto Braddock would be easier if they put a green arrow for right turns in, instead of a red light. There's a whole brand new lane to turn into, and people don't have to stop to fearfully hunt for nonexistant cars.

Those two things would probabbly save me a ton of time.

Posted by: ljb | July 12, 2006 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Probably everybody has to acknowledge a hidden benefit, which is the continued expansion of metro. Ever rider who takes metro is one less car on the road that's delaying your commute by auto.

Posted by: ah | July 12, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I echo the added lane on the Outer Loop to Dulles Toll Road ramp helping the Outer Loop in the afternoon.

29 & Randolph was great as well...

One similarly small item that has made my commute a lot WORSE was the cropping up (maybe they were on sale???) of No Turn on Red signs all over Downtown Silver Spring.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | July 12, 2006 4:03 PM | Report abuse

An oldie but a goodie. The connection between Route 198 and 28. Back before this opened, meetings in Rockville were scheduled for 7am, or 10am, now we can actually appear between those hours and not have wasted the time needed to avoid the snarl on the beltway.

Posted by: James Buchanan | July 14, 2006 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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