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The week ahead in traffic, transit

Drivers will find some new traffic patterns this week. On Saturday, the Cherry Blossom Festival starts, bringing more tourists and traffic.

Beltway/Telegraph Road
Work that began this weekend marks a significant new phase in reconstruction of the Capital Beltway's Telegraph Road interchange, part of the Wilson Bridge project.

Commuters will need to be extra alert for a new traffic pattern through the interchange area.

The outer loop exit to Telegraph Road north is being rerouted, and ramps for the inner loop are being realigned. This will allow workers to complete the ramps and replace portions of old Beltway bridges during the 2010 construction season.

Delays for Beltway drivers are not likely to worsen, project managers say. But traffic on the ramp from the outer loop to Telegraph Road might be delayed up to 15 minutes. Also, for the next eight months, the morning northbound rush-hour travel time on Telegraph Road could take up to 20 minutes longer.

Intercounty Connector
A new traffic pattern will affect motorists using the Shady Grove Road/Interstate 370 interchange in western Montgomery County. Beginning Saturday afternoon, drivers heading west on Shady Grove Road toward westbound I-370 will make a left at a new traffic signal.

They will merge with the eastbound Shady Grove Road drivers heading for I-370 on a new ramp. Variable message signs are in place to alert motorists to the new traffic pattern. Lane closings on both Shady Grove Road and I-370 will begin about 8 a.m. Saturday through the afternoon until the new traffic pattern is in place.

As an alternate route for motorists on west/southbound Shady Grove Road currently using I-370 to get to I-270, motorists may continue on Shady Grove Road beyond I-370 and turn right onto MD 355 (Frederick Road).

Drivers heading for I-270 south traveling from points north should consider MD Route 118 (Germantown Road), Middlebrook Road or MD Route 124 (Montgomery Village Avenue/Quince Orchard Road) to reach I-270 and avoid Shady Grove Road.

The traffic switch allows crews to continue bridge construction within the I-370/Shady Grove Road interchange.

Chain Bridge closing
The Potomac River crossing, which was closed this past weekend, is scheduled to shut completely again this coming weekend as part of the rehabilitation that began last spring. Workers will be fixing the bridge deck, its steel beams and the approaches.

The closing is set to begin at 8 p.m. Friday and continue to 5 a.m. Monday. This will be a complete shutdown: no vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians.

I-66 ramps reconfigured
Those troublesome ramps leading from the right and left sides of Interstate 66 east onto the Capital Beltway's inner loop have finally been restored to their original configuration. The Virginia Department of Transportation had figured that drivers were right: The pattern created to accommodate the HOT lanes project was increasing congestion.

The fix, delayed many times by the winter weather, was done this past week. The HOV ramp and the general-purpose ramp once again will enter the Beltway at separate points rather than merging before they reach the Beltway.

Cherry blossom weekends
For the next three weekends -- spanning the Cherry Blossom Festival -- Metro will suspend weekend track work to ease congestion. See Sunday's Commuter page feature for more travel tips during blossom time.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 22, 2010; 8:33 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Construction  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The week ahead  
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How did the change bridge closing go? Was any significant progress mad? Are they still on schedule for a May 31st completion?

Posted by: wpjunk | March 22, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Chain* Bridge

Posted by: wpjunk | March 22, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Still scheduled for May 31 completion and reopening of the third lane, although I think the District would like to get the lane back in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The bridge is scheduled for another complete shutdown this coming weekend. That's in accord with the original plan, and doesn't mean something didn't get done this past weekend.

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