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Heavy weekend traffic likely on Va. Beltway

The western side of the Beltway has been the scene of the most action lately as the HOT lanes project and the Dulles Metrorail extension really get cranked up. But every once in a while, we still hear from the old dog: the Wilson Bridge project.

The weekend activity I'm about to describe is part of the Beltway widening west of the bridge that should eventually end the bottleneck around the Telegraph Road interchange.

The trouble will come Friday night through Sunday on the inner loop. The lanes will shift outward onto a new roadway between the Telegraph Road interchange and the Eisenhower Connector. The traffic shift, which should be evident to commuters on Monday if the schedule holds, will let workers reconstruct the old roadway.

That work will extend the Thru and Local lane configuration to the west. So in the area where the construction is right now, drivers ultimately will wind up with two Thru lanes and three Local lanes. That's already the configuration to the east, over to the Route 210 interchange.

But a more immediate highlight, as a result of the weekend work, will be the reopening of the exit from the inner loop to the Eisenhower Connector.

Schedule
If the weather cooperates, here's how the shift will occur:

After evening rush hour on Friday, workers will close on-ramps to the inner loop from northbound and southbound Telegraph Road. The right-most lane of the inner loop will also be closed just west of Telegraph Road. The center and left lanes will stay open.

Later on Friday night, the center Iinner loop lane will be closed, reducing traffic to the left-most lane.

On Saturday morning, all inner loop traffic will be diverted to the right onto two new Ilanes. At that point, exit 174 from the inner loop to the Eisenhower Connector will re-open.

On Saturday night, a third new lane will open, restoring the inner loop to three lanes at that point. The on-ramps from Telegraph Road also will be reopened.

Traffic impact
While this is happening, xpect backups of as much as four miles. That would be back to the the I-295 interchange in Maryland. So just don't go there on Saturday. Consider using the 14th Street Bridge or the Legion Bridge for crossing the Potomac. If you live farther east, consider Route 301 and the Nice Bridge.

If weather interferes with the schedule, the work would begin on Saturday and finish on Sunday night. Really bad weather would push it off till the following weekend.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 2, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Construction , Driving , Weekend Work , Wilson Bridge  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Eisenhower Connector, Telegraph Road  
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