The Weekend and Beyond
Here are some suggestions for your travels this weekend and during December.
While drivers do stagger their homebound trips at the end of their Thanksgiving holidays, Sunday afternoon is still a prime time for highway congestion.
Among the most likely chokepoints in the Washington area are Interstate 95 between Richmond and the Springfield Interchange, the Telegraph Road interchange on the Capital Beltway's outer loop, I-66 both eastbound and westbound, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I-270 approaching the Beltway and much of the Beltway itself across Montgomery County.
Avoid the Capital Beltway at the Wilson Bridge for the first two weekends in December. That's when project managers are planning to do the lane painting and the sign placement that will guide drivers onto the new through lanes.
If the weather isn't too cold or wet, the work will be done on the outer loop during the first weekend in December and on the inner loop the next.
At the end of each weekend, that loop's two new through lanes should be open to traffic.
December Track Work
There's no Metro track work this weekend. But the transit agency will be rebuilding a switch at Friendship Heights Station and replacing crossties between Vienna and West Falls Church, two activities that will cause lengthy delays on those portions of the Red and Orange lines during the first two weekends of December.
But that will be the end of the weekend work for the holiday month. There is no weekend track work scheduled after Dec. 14.
Mall Lights Adjusted
Those driving to malls in Northern Virginia will notice that the timing of the traffic signals around the malls is different. The Virginia Department of Transportation has made its annual adjustment to the traffic pattern that dominates during the holidays.
VDOT has been doing this since 1999. (Maryland uses a signal technology that the State Highway Administration says can respond automatically to changing traffic congestion.) In Virginia, the signals controlling 178 intersections around 12 big shopping centers -- including Tysons, Manassas Mall, Potomac Mills Mall and Fair Oaks Mall -- are adjusted to account for the greater number of people trying to get in and out at the holidays.
Christmas Tree Lighting
The National Christmas Tree lighting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday on the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse, south of the White House. Many people really enjoy this moment, but many commuters absolutely hate it, because it disrupts traffic for hours in downtown Washington.
Regular daytime parking won't be allowed on the curb lanes of Constitution Avenue between 15th and 17th streets NW, both sides of 15th Street between Constitution and New York avenues and both sides of 17th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues.
Maryland Road Study
Maryland is deciding what transportation improvements to make along Norbeck Road and Spencerville Road between Georgia Avenue and Interstate 95 in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
The project manager for this corridor study is Shawn Burnett, who can be reached at 410-545-8531 or 800-548-5026.
Nice Bridge Lane
One lane of the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, which takes Route 301 over the Potomac River, is scheduled to be closed to traffic Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then again from Dec. 8 through Dec. 11. Workers will be completing installation of fiber optic cable across the bridge.
Md. Interchange Reconstruction
In western Maryland, the State Highway Administration has begun a reconstruction project at the interchange linking Interstates 70 and 81. That's a real heavy area for truck traffic.
While the weather is getting colder, there are still plenty of highway crews working across the region, so be on the lookout for them.
In this new $3.4 million project, the highway administration says, it will build acceleration and deceleration lanes to create a safer transition within the interchange. The plan also calls for resurfacing of the existing ramps and some repairs to the interchange lighting. The job should be done next summer.
November 28, 2008; 9:32 AM ET
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