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DC to Begin Lengthy Repair of Chain Bridge

One of the two inbound lanes will be closed from June through January, the length of the repair and repainting project on this Potomac River span, so important to thousands of commuters.

While there will be one lane open in each direction on weekdays, there may be some weekends when the bridge is completely shut down between 10 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. When work requires such a shutdown, notices will be posted three days ahead of time, the District Department of Transportation said.

Commuters, anticipating the effect of a lane closure during rush hour, will want to consider alternative routes, but the options are limited. They are likely to go up river to the American Legion Bridge, or down river to the Key or Roosevelt Bridges.

The latter are likely to be under some extra pressure because the District also is about to begin a two-year rehab project on the 14th Street Bridges. The resurfacing of the northbound 14th Street Bridge -- the part of that project with the biggest traffic impact -- will overlap considerably with the Chain Bridge project.

The current version of the Chain Bridge dates from 1939. It rests on stone piers built in the 1870s. The last major rehab was done in the 1980s.

The bridge takes almost 22,000 cars a day across the Potomac. Commuters in Virginia approach it from Route 123 or Route 120 and take it to Canal Road, leading into Georgetown. As with the work on the 14th Street Bridges, the work is necessary to preserve the structure. But it will disrupt traffic for months without leaving drivers feeling any better about their ride when it's done.

Here's a map of the Chain Bridge.

View Larger Map

Road Essentials:  Incident Map  |  Traffic Cams   |   Key Routes

By Robert Thomson  |  May 8, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Construction , Driving  
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Unbelievable. Does the District put the slightest thought into how one project might affect another? Of course, both of these are mostly just a hassle for Virginia commuters, so why would they?

Posted by: tomtildrum | May 8, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I doubt there will be much interaction between the two projects. The 14th Street bridge mostly takes people from Alexandria and those south of the Beltway on I-95. The Chain Bridge is almost entirely local traffic from North Arlington and McLean.

A lot of that Chain Bridge traffic could probably use the American Legion Bridge. American Legion Bridge traffic peaks are southbound in the morning, northbound in the PM, which is the opposite of Chain Bridge's peaks. You have great connections on both sides via the GW and Clara Barton Parkways.

Posted by: thetan | May 8, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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