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14th Street Bridge Project: First Commute Smooth

First Morning Commute.jpg
Commuters did pretty well in handling the start of the bridge rehab project today. (Thomson)

If every commute during the 14th Street Bridge rehabilitation project matched this morning's, drivers would come out of this pretty well.

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I got onto I-395 northbound at 7:40 a.m. and got across the bridge into Washington at 8:10 a.m. There were the usual slowdowns along the way, including the ones where traffic just gets real sluggish for no apparent reason, and there was a slowdown at the bridge. But it was nothing that would cause a driver to pick an alternative route.

I was in the regular travel lanes, but the HOV lanes off to the left looked really good all the way in. I stayed in the right-most of the three lanes approaching the bridge, because I wanted to see how that traffic would mesh with the traffic coming up from the northbound George Washington Parkway.

No problem for either side. The drivers from the parkway come up onto their own through lane, and there's no need for a sudden merge to the left. In fact, there was more of an issue with merge slowdowns a little farther south of the bridge project. The narrowing of the lanes on the bridge was not a problem.

Despite this morning's success, I'm not willing to declare a victory for drivers on this project. There are plenty of off-peak lane closures coming up, when drivers won't have the four open lanes on the bridge. Let's also see how the afternoon rush goes. The bridge is one of those odd places that has two peak periods in the same direction.

Also, this looks to me like the easiest of the eight phases of lane closures. Phase one, with its right-lane closure, is scheduled to last about three months. Then the closures will gradually move out into the other lanes in one-month phases. Also note that the shoulders are gone, which could prove problematic in the event of a breakdown on the bridge. So stay tuned for more.

Did your experience today vary from mine?

By Robert Thomson  |  June 1, 2009; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  14th street bridge  | Tags: 14th street bridge  
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Dr. Gridlock-
It is nice that you have focused so much on the 14st Street Bridge. But you have forgot about the Chain Bridge project. It has been mentioned only in passing.

Looking at the traffic cams now, due to the construction, traffic is backed all the way up Arizona, approaching Foxhall.

Please keep us up to that date on that. Thanks.

Posted by: PlateMan | June 1, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Thanks for the advice, PlateMan. I've been out to drive the Chain Bridge twice now, and saw first-hand what you were talking about. I've been watching the traffic cameras, too.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | June 4, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

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