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The Week Ahead on Virginia HOT Lanes

Route 123 Lane Closure.jpg
Left lanes of Route 123 in this Tysons zone will be closed through November. (Thomson)

Each week, the Virginia Megaprojects office, the one that coordinates the work of the half dozen huge public works that could affect your travels, provides a list of what drivers can expect to see.

This is the list of daytime work for the HOT lanes (high occupancy/toll) project.
* The left lanes in both directions of Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) will close at the Capital Beltway interchange, between the Westpark Drive Bridge and the Capital One building. This is the biggest impact so far of the project and will continue through November. See Sunday's Commuter page for more details.
* Expect single lane closures during the day on the Beltway and on some ramps within the project area. These are not at rush hour.
* All Gallows Road traffic has been shifted for bridge demolition. See this Megaprojects page for details.
* All Braddock Road traffic has been shifted for bridge construction. See this Megaprojects page for details. Use this link to see the pedestrian detour from the Braddock Road Bridge. Travelers also can use Fairfax Connector Route 306 or Metrobus routes 17A, 17G or 17M across the bridge.
* The left lanes of Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) under the Beltway will be closed for the next month. Read more about that closure by using this link.

Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes

By Robert Thomson  |  April 20, 2009; 7:35 AM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving  
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This lane closure is going to be awful.

Here's an interesting "out of the box" solution. Lets close the left lane on Route 123 in both directions, but lets maintain 3 lanes on Route 123 under the Beltway by shifting the lanes to the right. Left lane shifts into the center lane. Center lane shifts into the right lane. Right lane shifts into the weave lane for the ramps.

Now comes the pesky question of what to do about the ramp traffic. Well you can still keep all 4 entrance ramps to the Beltway from Route 123 open. Traffic from southbound 123 to southbound 495 and from northbound 123 to northbound 495 just won't have a deceleration lane, because they will be exiting from the right through lane.

As for the exits from the Beltway that go under that bridge (495 north to 123 south, and 495 south to 123 north), those two exits would be closed, since there is no lane to receive the traffic from them. Since the movements are north to south and south to north, there would be very little through traffic on them, it would only affect local traffic. For traffic on I-495 south trying to get to 123 north, those drivers can take the Dulles Connector Road to its exits for Route 123. For traffic on I-495 north trying to get to 123 south, it can take either Route 7 to 123, Route 7 to International, or the Toll Road to Spring Hill Road, depending on the destination.

The southbound 495 to northbound 123 detour via the Connector Road should work nicely. The 495 north to 123 south detour might not work as well during rush hour because of such a large volume of traffic. So an alternative might be to keep that ramp open, and only shift traffic to the right on northbound 123 under the Beltway. Then the northbound left lane of 123 (which would be shifted to the present-day northbound center lane) could be set up with zipper barriers as a reversible lane, southbound in the morning (into Tysons) and northbound all the rest of the time.

Easier said then done, I'm sure, but hey, its a neat out-of-the-box idea.

Posted by: thetan | April 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Doc, do you have a detailed drawing / engineering diagram of the final configuration of 123 when they are done? The current design of dumping all exiting northbound 495 traffic into the 123 right turn lanes is horrible, slows down traffic, and responsible for a myriad of accidents and countless lost hours of congestion. Hopefully there is a redo of this debacle? Or are we hoping too much?

Posted by: ssolomo | April 20, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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