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Route 123 Northbound Ramp Closed in Tysons

Route 123 ramp.jpg
HOT lanes project blocked off the outer loop ramp to northbound Route 123. (Thomson)

Just got back from circumnavigating the Beltway, mainly to see the impact of the new closure of the ramp the leads to Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) northbound on the first morning rush hour since it took effect.

The traffic wasn't too bad in the Tysons area between 8 and 9 a.m. After all, it's August. I think my main issue is with the marking of the detour route to get outer loop drivers onto Route 123.

VMS.jpg Sign doesn't tell whole story. (Thomson)

There are a couple of variable message boards reading "STAY ALERT ... 495 SB EXIT 46B CLOSED" and an orange detour sign, but drivers really have to be paying attention to figure this one out. They may not have heard about the ramp closing, and aren't looking for signs. They may be hugging the right side of the outer loop as usual and not anticipating they'll need to start their detour before their old exit -- and over to the left side of the Beltway.

Plus, if you look at the signs for exit 45B, it's not going to strike you as a natural detour route. Look at the sign in the picture. It looks like, if you follow the detour, you're going to wind up on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway and get a ticket for violating the HOV rules.

I-66 sign.jpg This exit for detour. (Thomson)

But that is indeed the way to go. And you'll get off very quickly, before reaching I-66. Take exit 19B to Route 123 north toward McLean or exit 19A to go south toward Tysons.

This is the sort of thing that the regulars eventually get used to, but we're in August, and the regulars are going to come back from vacations in waves over the next few weeks. So there may be a longer than usual period of adjustment. The ramp is scheduled to be closed through September.

By Robert Thomson  |  August 17, 2009; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, HOT lanes, Route 123, Tysons  
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This morning, once you exit the beltway, the detour to Rt. 123 North actually directed you to take exit 19A to Rt. 123 South, which was odd, since there is a "no left turn" sign at the end of the exit ramp. The next detour sign, directing you to turn left onto Rt. 123, was placed directly in front of the "no left turn" sign. Problem solved! Why is it ok to turn left there today, but it wasn't last week?

Posted by: SR123 | August 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The No Left Turn sign was likely placed to improve operations, as opposed to because it is unsafe to make a left turn there. But with a lot of extra traffic coming from the Beltway to Route 123, the operations have changed in such a way that it is better to allow people to turn there than to not turn there. Remember, there are many more people trying to get to 123 using that ramp than there were last week.

In some cases, the no left turn signs are placed because there is a safety reason why you can't turn, such as a lagging left-turn trap. That is not the case here.

Posted by: thetan | August 17, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it. Why would they route you down the exit to 123 south when there is a perfectly good looparound ramp to 123 north just on the other side of the overpass there?

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The reason that detour sign was placed there was so that people actually wanting to get to the places back toward the Beltway, like Citi, will have the necessary right-turn lane to give them that access. This will also help prevent a new excess of traffic having to go into, and turn around in, McLean.

Posted by: brentjmc | August 17, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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