Dodging highway work zones
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
We live near the Wilson Bridge and have to drive to Dulles Airport. Would we be better off to drive via Arlington and Interstate 66 to the Dulles Toll Road and not take the western side of the Beltway and all that construction?
There are plenty of highway work zones across the D.C. region this spring, and our letter-writer raises the very good question of just how difficult it is to get through them. I wrote a spring-summer work preview for the Commuter page followed by another that zoomed in on the High Occupancy Toll lane project on the western side of the Beltway in Virginia. For this Sunday, I'm planning to focus on the impact of the Dulles Metrorail project.
This is what I wrote back about the Dulles Airport drive, which would be on a weekday morning:
I'd plan on taking the Beltway across the Wilson Bridge and over to the Dulles Access Highway to reach the airport. Yes, you'd be passing through the work zones for three of Virginia's megaprojects -- the Telegraph Road interchange, the HOT lanes and the Dulles Metrorail extension.
But if this is a daytime trip, rather than something between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., it's likely to be as good a route as the other main possibilities, which in my mind involve getting to I-395 (Southeast-Southwest Freeway) to the George Washington Parkway and the outer loop of the Beltway down to the Dulles Access Highway (rather than the Toll Road, since it's an airport trip), or 395 to the Roosevelt Bridge to 66 to the Dulles Access Highway/Toll Road.
There are construction projects along all these routes, and as you know, there can always be an accident or bad weather to slow you down. I'd have the three routes in mind on the day of departure, but barring any known disruption that day, I'd go with the Beltway-Access Highway route because it's likely to have the most open lanes and it's the most straightforward.
I'd set aside two hours for drive time. I'm pretty conservative on that. It could well take you less time, but I don't like to add to the tension of catching a flight.
Travelers, do you disagree with me on any of this advice? My recent experience driving through the work zones has been okay -- not something that would make me divert from the basic big-highway route to the airport. Has your experience been different?
April 28, 2010; 12:35 PM ET
Categories: Airports , Congestion , Construction , Driving , Dulles , Wilson Bridge | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Dulles Metrorail, HOT lanes
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