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Chain Bridge Change Coming Next Week

Here are more details about the plan to ease congestion a bit during the Chain Bridge rehab that has annoyed so many drivers.

The District Department of Transportation is going to make a fix that should help traffic going from the District to Arlington. The construction barriers on that side of the Potomac will be repositioned and the lane lines repainted to create a separate lane for traffic turning right onto Route 123.

At the moment, all traffic in that direction, whether it's heading for Route 123, off to the right, or for Glebe Road, straight ahead, shares a single lane. Drivers who want to turn right, but are stuck behind straight-ahead traffic at the red light, have asked for this right-turn lane. This won't completely solve their problem, because traffic heading in both directions still can backup on the bridge, but it should help.

The switch to this new setup is scheduled to be done overnight starting at 8 p.m. Monday. It should be done before the morning rush on Tuesday. It would be best to avoid the bridge entirely while this work is being done, but it will be open.

Project Update
Drivers who are stuck in the traffic backups caused this this eight-month project write in to ask what's going on to justify this. Much of the early work was under the bridge and out of sight of drivers.

The purpose of the project, which began in June, is to repair and repaint the bridge, which got its last rehab in the early 1980s. The work is scheduled to be done in January. For the entire time, one of the three lanes on the bridge is closed. DDOT says the contractor needs the lane for the delivery of materials, bridge lighting, the painting of the superstructure steel beams and equipment storage.

Also adjusted because of the traffic congestion was the timing of the traffic signals on both sides of the river.

These changes won't fix everything drivers are experiencing, and I'm concerned about what they'll find in September when vacation season ends. There's a ripple effect from the congestion around Chain Bridge. Just this morning, I heard from a Rockville-DC commuter vexed by the traffic light at MacArthur and Arizona avenues near the bridge. As traffic backs up on both avenues, he wrote, it's very hard to turn left onto Arizona from MacArthur, since cars are blocking the box. (There is no left turn signal at the light on MacArthur when turning onto Arizona.)

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By Robert Thomson  |  July 24, 2009; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Chain Bridge, Dr. Gridlock, delays  
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Next: UPDATE: Man 'Intentionally Placed Himself on the Tracks' at Van Ness; Delays Continue


This is really good news and glad to see it happening. Hope Tuesday morning goes smoothly!

As for the left turn from MacArthur into Arizona-- perhaps some more line marking in the box would help. Going outbound west) and making that turn isn't too difficult if one is patient. There is room for 2-3 cars to move into the intersection and wait for traffic to clear as long as they stay way to the right (there's a nice median that allows for a lot of room). People driving inbound and making a left sometimes try to turn left too soon, blocking those coming from the opposite direction trying to make the left. If they (inbound drivers turning left into Arizona) turn left but stay all the way to the right there is plenty of room to wait, next to the east median, for the traffic to clear. The Arizona early turning lights help facilitate this--those turning from MacArthur can clear out the intersection while the turners are turning and by the time the "regular" green light hits, the intersection should be clear. I thought it was a good idea to add those turn lights since they benefit all. Not sure if i'm describing it clearly, but I hope this helps.

Posted by: Tenleytowner | July 24, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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