Highlights of Summer Road Work
Among the many changes our transportation departments made this summer, I picked out three that I'd like to highlight on an upcoming edition of The Post's commuter page and discuss with you here. Each affects many drivers and illustrates a different facet of road work:
Beltway Ramp: The redesigned exit from the inner loop onto southbound Georgia Avenue improved the turn onto the avenue. Drivers no longer have to turn onto Georgia and then quickly merge left into heavy traffic before the lane disappears. Now, they have a clear shot heading southbound whether they're going for 16th Street or continuing on Georgia.
I'm one of those drivers who likes to minimize anxiety. I don't mind waiting for a light if it eliminates a merge I hated. Of course, not all drivers feel that way: Some of you say the traffic backs up onto the Beltway. The times I've tried it during morning rush and after, the line of cars sometimes goes all the way back to the start of the exit lane, which is six-tenths of a mile. The traffic moved up pretty quickly. Cars cleared the lane in a couple of minutes.
That exit has had long lines of traffic for many years. I've seen it far worse: backed up into the right travel lane of the Beltway.
Other drivers who commute on Georgia Avenue and don't use the Beltway complain that traffic is more congested because of the addition of the new light at the ramp. That may be so, but it's hard for me to tell whether the overall trip down Georgia has actually been lengthened this month. There's so much traffic and so many lights along that route.
One caution: If you take the outer loop to reach southbound Georgia, keep in might that you now might be making a left turn into a line of stopped traffic under the Beltway. That's one visible effect of the new signal light.
Route 28 Interchanges: I spent about an hour during this morning's rush driving up and down Route 28 near Dulles Airport to see the how the interchange projects were advancing and what effect their having. Over the summer, VDOT finished the Sterling interchange, opened Pacific Boulevard from Sterling Boulevard to Cedar Green Road and removed the traffic signal at Route 28.
The latter was the most noticeable to me. I thought traffic flowed much more smoothly through that area. Right now, traffic detours to reach Innovation Avenue, but the rebuilt interchange should open next month. Today, driving between Innovation Avenue and Route 7 was real easy, but there was congestion between the Air and Space Museum and the Dulles Toll Road, especially northbound. (The eastbound Toll Road was backed up practically its entire length.)
There are more improvements yet to come on Route 28, but the growth in that area around Dulles is just staggering. Will it quickly overwhelm all this work and investment?
Hughesville Bypass: I'm surprised I haven't heard more from commuters about this long-awaited improvement for Southern Maryland traffic. At $56 million, it was no Springfield Interchange, but it was one of the larger projects in this region.
The four-lane road, which was under construction for three years, bypasses Hughesville on the easter side and provides relief for the 41,000 drivers who use Route 5 from St. Mary's and Route 231 from Calvert for their commutes. The State Highway Administration notes that traffic could increase to 68,000 vehicles by 2025 because of growth associated with BRAC and expansion of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
So the same question about Route 28 applies here: How long will it be before this work is overwhelmed by new demand for roads? In Southern Maryland, it was good to see the opening of the bypass accompanied by some improvements in commuter bus service, but transit has a long way to go in meeting the needs of that region.
Share your thoughts about these three projects here or in an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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