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Beltway Work This Weekend

A big phase of the Wilson Bridge construction project is scheduled for this weekend, and it will make the Capital Beltway in that area a good place to avoid.

The Beltway's lanes must be put into a new alignment so they'll wind up where the bridge is once its in its final configuration as a two-span structure. The first span opened last year and the second one will open in 2008.

All lanes on the Beltway's inner loop in Virginia and on the outer loop in Maryland are scheduled to be shifted into the new alignment this weekend in the area near the bridge. So if all goes as planned, drivers on those routes will be following a new course by Monday.

But you won't want to be stuck watching as it happens. Lane closures are scheduled on both sides of the Potomac, but project managers think the inner loop will be particularly problematic for travelers. Based on typical weekend traffic, they say, there is potential for backups of more than 10 miles on Saturday and Sunday if people don't find alternate routes.

Some of you experienced travelers may recall times during the bridge project when massive traffic jams have been predicted but didn't materialize. Two reasons: 1) People actually listened to warnings like this, 2) it's somewhat easier to divert the Virginia traffic to the western side of the Beltway than it is to divert the Maryland traffic.

If you are looking at this from out of the area:
Southbound long-distance travelers on I-95 should stay right approaching the Beltway and take I-495 West (the Beltway's outer loop) around the north and west of Washington to the Legion Bridge. You'll wind up at the same place south of Washington after about the same distance. You also could try taking Route 301 to the Nice Bridge across the Potomac and avoid the Beltway completely.

Northbound I-95 travelers can take either Route 301 or I-495 North (that's the Beltway's inner loop) to the Legion Bridge and connect back up with I-95 north of Washington.

For us locals, here are the details.

Virginia
All lanes on the inner loop will be shifted to the north onto their new alignment from Route 1 to Telegraph Road.

From 9 p.m. Friday to early Saturday morning, alternating lanes of the inner loop will close, and one lane of traffic will remain open on a temporary detour alignment. The far left lane of the outer loop will be closed to allow access for construction equipment.

The Beltway ramps from the inner loop to Route 1 south and Telegraph Road will be closed, and traffic will detour onto Route 1 north. The ramps will be closed for only a short time Friday night to let traffic enter the temporary detour alignment and again early Monday morning, when traffic is put onto the new alignment.

From early Saturday to as late as 5 a.m. Monday, two lanes will be open on the temporary detour, but some traffic stops or reductions to one lane might be necessary from time to time.

By 5 a.m. Monday, all lanes and ramps will be realigned.

Maryland
All lanes on the outer loop will be shifted to the south. The shift, similar to a recent one along the inner loop on the Maryland side, will begin at I-295 and extend to Route 210.

From 9 p.m. Friday to early Saturday, the outer loop in that area will be reduced to one lane.

These ramps will be closed and drivers detoured:
-- I-295 South to outer Loop
-- Outer loop to Route 210 North
-- Route 210 North to outer loop
-- Route 414 East and West to outer loop

By early Saturday, all newly-aligned Beltway lanes and ramps will reopen.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 1, 2007; 5:26 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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Next: Weekend Advisories

Comments

So does anyone know why 295N coming off the Wilson Bridge is so fouled up the past week? It's like the glorious days when the Douglass Bridge was closed.

Posted by: Josh | November 1, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Josh, I feel you, man, in the morning. Much of the problem can be Bolling. Once they start heavy ID checks, Overlook gets packed which backs up Exit 1 to NRL at least. However, the worse route for me is the opposite at night.

I enter 295-S at NRL to go west on 495 and it's sort of a joke now. The backups to the Beltway usually extend all the way back beyond NRL! Part of the problem, I think, is that there is no way to gain relief once any little problem happens. And, once the back up begins, you start getting the @#$@#$'s who decide that cruising along in the middle lane and then slashing to the right immediately before the exit is the correct way to drive.

Posted by: TheMatt | November 2, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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