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Delays Likely Today at 14th Street Bridge

Today is the first day commuters are likely to feel the full effect of the year-long resurfacing of the 14th Street Bridge's northbound span and a repainting project on the Chain Bridge.

14th St. Bridge Project
 
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Over the weekend, crews restriped the white lines on the 14th Street Bridge, shifting the four lanes to the left so that the right lane could be blocked off. It's now blocked off. What you see today will be the traffic pattern for about three months.

And it sounds simple enough. You've dealt with worse than a lane shift. But this isn't any old spot along the highway. This is one of the most notorious bottlenecks in the region. Even under good conditions, it will be congested in the morning and the afternoon. Now add to it the lane shifts, the narrowing of the lanes, the elimination of the shoulders and the gawk factor as drivers check out the construction.

Our box of links: You'll find the Live Bridge Cam particularly helpful today. It's a view from a VDOT camera well positioned to show the new lane pattern on the bridge.

Advice for today: My main concern is for I-395 drivers approaching the bridge in the right-most lane and for George Washington Parkway drivers coming up the ramp onto the bridge. Both sets of drivers should know that the parkway traffic coming up onto the bridge has a through lane. Those drivers are not going to run out of lane and don't need to merge quickly to the left. So there's no call for any trick driving in this area.

But the parkway drivers swinging up onto the bridge should watch their speed. They'll find a close-up concrete barrier on the right that they're not used to seeing. And they'll need to make sure that their momentum doesn't swing them into the through lane on the left that is full of drivers coming up I-395.

I'll watch the situation to see how bad this gets, and will look for your reactions in the comments here and on Twitter.

But if it's more than you can take, here are some options:
-- Carpool. There's no work planned for the HOV bridge, so you could either get together with some other folks for the car trip or take a bus to use those lanes.
-- Take Metro or VRE. Check Metro's very useful Trip Planner and enter your start and end points. Or go to the Virginia Railway Express Web site.
-- Adjust work schedules. Easy for me to say, right? But I do know some commuters who plan to come in after the HOV restrictions are lifted at 9 a.m.
-- Telecommute. You don't have to junk your lifestyle. Working from home or from a telework center even one day a week would make a big difference in the overall traffic and perhaps in your mental health as well.
-- Take another route. The worse the bridge congestion turns out to be, the more realistic this option may become. The Wilson Bridge is six miles south, and since the two new spans have been in operation, with their Thru and Local lanes, the bridge has been relatively free of congestion. (Though watch out for the outer loop lane squeeze at Telegraph Road.)

Chain Bridge Project
One of the two inbound lanes is scheduled to close beginning Wednesday, DDOT spokesman John Lisle said this morning. The lane will be closed throughout the rehab project, which should last through January.

Prep work for the project starts today, said DDOT spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc. Restriping of the lanes is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Barriers will be put down tomorrow and the first rush hour with lane closure set is scheduled for Wednesday morning, she said.

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.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 1, 2009; 5:11 AM ET
Categories:  14th street bridge  | Tags: 14th street bridge  
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Next: The Week Ahead For Highways and Transit

Comments

Or folks could bike to work too. Many folks use the multi-use path on the southbound bridge span to get into the city every day.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | June 1, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

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