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Holiday Weekend Travel Tips

The Virginia and Maryland highway departments are suspending road work for the holiday weekend.

In Virginia, all of those temporary closures that so annoy you at places like the Springfield Interchange and the approaches to the Wilson Bridge will be clear from noon Friday to noon on Tuesday. But watch out for areas throughout the state where the work zones are longterm.

Similar deal in Maryland: There won't be any orange barrels temporarily closing lanes on roadways like Route 29 or I-95 or I-270 until 9 p.m. Tuesday, but concrete barriers and rough pavement will still be where you last saw them. (That means traffic may still be slow on the Capital Beltway's inner loop at the Legion Bridge and on the northbound George Washington Parkway, because of the bridge repainting project.)

The transportation agencies give the same simple holiday travel advice that you readers give to me when we talk holiday travel: Try not to drive when everyone else is driving. (You'll see below that Maryland has some specific advice about when to try the Chesapeak Bay Bridge.)

For those of you heading toward points south, here are some getaway notes from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

-- The HOV reversible lane directions on Interstate 64 may shift throughout the long weekend depending on roadway conditions and traffic volumes.

-- Drivers heading toward Virginia Beach may want to use the I-664 Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel as an alternative to I-64's Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The Monitor Merrimac is less heavily traveled than the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

-- There are likely to be construction zone delays on I-64 in Chesapeake between Greenbrier Parkway and Battlefield Boulevard. VDOT has lifted the HOV restriction on I-64 East and West between the Indian River Road exit and the Battlefield Boulevard exit, opening those lanes to all vehicles at all times during the construction project. You can get the latest at www.i64info.com.

-- If you're heading to the Outer Banks, consider taking I-664 and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel to save time and avoid the construction around Battlefield Boulevard.

-- The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry is operating on its normal schedule, which you can check by using this link: www.virginiadot.org/travel/ferry-jamestown.asp

-- Traveling around Richmond: The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph in a work zone along I-64 East between Route 288 (Exit 174) and I-295 (Exit 177). I-295 South is restricted to one lane between the I-295/I-64 interchange (mile marker 53) and mile marker 52. There's also a work zone along I-64 West at Staples Mill Road, where the bridge is being widened. And on I-295 North between Pole Green Road (Exit 38) and Mountain Road (Exit 49), you'll encounter uneven lanes as repaving continues.

-- In central Virginia: There's one southbound lane closed on Route 29 at the Greene/Madison county line, and there's one lane closed in each direction on Route 3 in Culpeper County at the Route 29 overpass.

-- In southwestern Virginia: Watch for slow traffic because of heavy volume where I-77 and I-81 overlap in Wythe County. Same goes for the I-77 East River and Big Walker Mountain tunnels, which are involved in restoration projects.

The Maryland Department of Transportation also has a couple of tips:

-- The resurfacing project on I-95 in Howard County won't get going again until Tuesday night. At 10 p.m., the northbound I-95 ramp to Route 175 will close until 5 a.m. Wednesday as part of the project.

-- The Maryland Transportation Authority, which controls the bridges, wants you to remember how crowded they were last Memorial Day weekend, as it predicts a 3 percent increase in weekend traffic on the Bay Bridge, a 1.5 percent increase in the Fort McHenry Tunnel and a 2 percent increase on I-95.

-- This is the authority's advice on when to take the Bay Bridge: Before noon and after 10 p.m. Friday, before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m. on Saturday, before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m. on Sunday, before 11 a.m. and after 10 p.m. on Monday.

-- For the latest on Bay Bridge traffic, call 1-877-BAYSPAN or check baybridge.com for the traffic cameras.

-- Watch out for heavy traffic on I-95 in Baltimore this weekend: The transportation authority says the heaviest is likely to be near the Russell Street (Exit 52), Interstate 395 (Exit 53) and Key Highway (Exit 55). You've got the NCAA Lacrosse Championships through the weekend at the Ravens stadium and other events at Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor.

-- To avoid I-95 through Baltimore, the authority suggests using I-895 and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel or I-695 and the Key Bridge. Both routes reconnect with I-95 once you get around the city.

Planning to spend a quite weekend around here? Watch out for the many street closures in downtown Washington from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday because of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle parade and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday because of the National Memorial Day Parade.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 25, 2007; 5:10 AM ET
Categories:  Getaway  
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