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Alert: Lane Shift near Wilson Bridge

Motorists on the Beltway's inner loop will see a new traffic pattern this morning as they approach the Wilson Bridge from the Maryland side.

As part of the reconstruction of the interchanges and bridge approaches, the lanes have been shifted about 60 feet to the right for a stretch of about three-quarters of a mile from just past Exit 4 (Route 414/St. Barnabas Road) to Exit 3 (Route 210). Then they shift back to the left into their old alignment.

Crews were scheduled to work overnight until about 5 o'clock this morning to finish the pavement markings and move barriers.

By the time the Wilson Bridge project is completed, the Beltway lanes will have been reconfigured to separate local and long-distance travelers. Those of you who drive along those new lanes today will be driving on what ultimately will become the new inner loop local lanes.

While you're there, workers will be building the new express lanes, to the left of the locals.

Next up: In mid-August, another traffic shift is scheduled, as the inner loop lanes from Route 210 to the bridge are shifted to the right, for the same purpose.

Please be careful out there today: The inner loop traffic near the bridge has been very heavy the past couple of mornings, including the traffic exiting to head north on that crawl toward the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 11, 2007; 4:43 AM ET
Categories:  Wilson Bridge  
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For years since the I-95 S in NoVa project began, I've avoided the mixing bowl area. Well, took the kids to Disney last month and I had high expectations as I approached the interstate from the beltway. Needless to say, I was disappointed, whatta complete mess! I hope when the work on the MD side is done, it works better.

Posted by: Donny | July 11, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

395 South and North in the District has been a nightmare in the evening all week long. I can't figure out why -- could this be related to the Douglas Bridge closure? Anyone have ideas?

Posted by: arl1 | July 11, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Route 1 South through Alexandria was a nightmare last night. Is it always like that? Took 1.5 hours to go from CC to Princess St. in Alex!

Posted by: Stick | July 11, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I was caught in the mess in Alexandria on Rt 1 last night also. It usually doesn't take that long to get through. When I got to the beltway I saw a police car in back of a car that look like it was blocking right lane to get on the beltway.

Posted by: wlevey | July 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Almost every major road in Alexandria was backed up through the gills last night. I see this occasionally, especially on Friday nights during the rest of the year. I haven't seen it that bad for several months though. WOW! My commute is opposite the flow into Old Town, so thankfully I get to see all the people on Duke, King, Prince, [insert East-West route here] sit through 3 traffic cycles as they head toward Route 1, GW parkway, etc., while I head in the opposite (and uncongested) direction. I count my blessings daily folks!

I suspect some of it was due to the rain downpours. Y'all should know people in this area forget how to drive the second a rain drop or snowflake hits the ground.

Just an observation: People, it doesn't help when you block the intersection. It doesn't get you through the light any sooner. It just causes more congestion and pissed off people who have a green and cannot go left, right, or straight because you are blocking the intersection (often yapping on the cell phone at the same time, oblivious to your crime). People on Duke and sometimes King are notoriously bad at keeping the box clear. Too bad Alexandria police are nowhere to be found directing traffic in key intersections on days like this (except at Duke and Telegraph Rd).

I stand amazed at how construction in another jurisdiction can totally foul up the traffic in the entire region. Checking the traffic cameras yesterday to see what was up before leaving work, I saw all the major routes jammed up at or nearly approaching the Beltway. 395 south was indeed a slow moving mass of cars as I passed over the Seminary Road bridge, and I feel for anyone stuck in these messes. There's just no good reason our region tolerates the clusterfook that is our transportation network.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | July 11, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Could it be that Alexandria is taking part of the hit from the Douglass Bridge closure? Did anyone observe the license plates on these cars? If there were a lot of Maryland plates, I'd wager that a fair number were people going around to avoid the backups discussed elsewhere on this blog.

I've been working late this week and I-395 has been so empty that I've used my cruise control both evenings in the express lanes (which is also about the only way I can force myself to keep it down to 70 mph).

Posted by: Rich | July 11, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Rich is probably right..I definitely know Wilson Bridge is taking a lot of extra traffic based on the backups I hear about on WTOP, and the cars have to get to Arlington, DC, etc. somehow. Likely they are not taking I-395 since that is maxed out (not to mention out of the way from the Wilson Bridge), and they are likely not taking the Beltway to Tyson's since these are cars that were previously heading for Douglas Bridge reachable destinations. That puts those cars...on Henry, Patrick, and Washington Streets in Alexandria.

Another element....I wonder how many Alexandria residents were previously commuting to downtown DC via I-295. It might not seem logical, but I don't think I-295 was too overly congested in the past. Sure, the Wilson Bridge was, but so is the 14th St Bridge, and since you would get onto the Beltway at the exit before the Wilson Bridge and exit immediately after, you wouldn't sit through much Wilson Bridge delay. I bet anyone who used to do this is now commuting via the 14th St bridge which would simply add to the congestion in Alexandria.

Posted by: Woodley Park | July 12, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

When I used to live in Alexandria, I indeed hopped across the Wilson Bridge and up I-295 in the morning to get downtown. I do the same thing when I drive north of the city (Luarel, College Park, Baltimore) from my current home in Springfield because the connection between NB 395 and NB 295 is non-existant.

Posted by: Prior | July 12, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I live just south of the Beltway and I usually commute to downtown via Van Dorn to I-395 at Seminary, but I've occasionally gone over the Wilson Bridge and up I-295 (most recently on July 3 when Lisa Baden said there were two crashes on I-395); sometimes I've used US-1 through Alexandria and Crystal City. It all depends on the traffic on a given day, but I'm certain that if I've used the I-295 route, others do too. I know a colleague of mine who lives near Belle Haven Country Club has used I-295 as his normal commuting route for some time (we work near Metro Center). He started going this way in part because of the snarls getting across the Beltway on US-1 due to the roadwork there, especially with the two temporary traffic lights that used to be in place. He said he was going to start going through Alexandria instead with the bridge closure.

Posted by: Rich | July 13, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

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