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Maryland Starting Beltway Project

Many drivers in Prince George's will welcome Maryland's announcement today that it will rebuilt the Capital Beltway section around the Arena Drive junction so that the interchange can be open permanently, rather than during FedEx Field events only.

But improving that three-mile stretch of highway so that the interchange can safely stay open round the clock will require a construction program lasting for 18 months. Beltway drivers should watch for lane closures during off-peak hours.

Many of you who attend Redskins football games know this intersection, which was built in 1997, but for the rest, it's just a highway sign. The interchange is open only during stadium events. Federal safety rules barred a permanent opening because two other interchanges were close by and the traffic pattern was disruptive.

But that area has been growing, and many Prince George's residents have been looking forward to a solution that would allow a permanent opening at Arena Drive.

Starting this month, the Maryland State Highway Administration will begin a $30.4 million project to widen that section of the Beltway and reconfigure the nearby interchanges at Central Avenue and Landover Road.

By the spring of 2009, this will create three through lanes and two merge lanes in each direction, to deal with the safety issue. Also, the cloverleaf-style interchanges at Landover Road and Central Avenue will be redesigned to cut down on traffic weaving in and out of the interchange ramps. That means building "T" intersections at the top of the ramp, controlled by traffic signals. (This is the same thing SHA is doing at University Boulevard and its outer loop ramps.)

Additional work on the project includes resurfacing along I-95, some repairs to the Landover Road bridge over the Beltway, restriping I-95 and upgrading storm water systems.

The work and its results will affect a lot of drivers. SHA says more than 194,000 vehicles travel along the Beltway near Arena Drive daily. Engineers forecast that will grow to almost 223,000 vehicles per day by 2030.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 12, 2007; 1:36 PM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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