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What's ahead for Tysons traffic

Tysons Beltway.jpg
Capital Beltway at Route 123 is intersection of HOT lanes and Metrorail projects. Red piers will support Metrorail over new Beltway bridges, in background. (Thomson)

Tuesday's water main break on Route 123 occurred at "ground zero" for road construction and traffic disruption in Northern Virginia. That's what Ronaldo T. "Nick" Nicholson calls Tysons Corner. He's in charge of the Megaprojects office, which Virginia set up to ease the impact of several huge road and rail projects now reaching the height of their construction impact.

5 p.m. traffic update: Avoid the area this evening. The northbound lanes of Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) will remain closed at International Drive during the tonight's rush hour. A detour is in effect while utility crews repair a ruptured water main. The Virginia Department of Transportation is detouring traffic. All lanes of Tysons Boulevard are closed from Chain Bridge Road to Galleria Drive to help move traffic through the area. All Galleria Drive traffic near Chain Bridge Road is being directed toward the Dulles Toll Road. Southbound Chain Bridge Road traffic turning onto Tysons Boulevard is detoured to International Drive. Alternate routes include Leesburg Pike (Route 7) and the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267). Chain Bridge Road should reopened later Tuesday night. See a map.

These aren't the sort of delays to expect every day in Tysons during the 2010 construction season, but there's a lot of work coming that drivers need to be aware of. Nicholson calls this ground zero because it's the point where the two most-mega of all the Megaprojects come together: the High Occupancy Toll lanes along the Capital Beltway and the Metrorail extension along Routes 123, 7 and 267.

The problem today and throughout the construction work scheduled to wrap up in 2013 is that planners can't just send drivers around the work zones. Tysons is one of the main economic engines of Virginia. Many commuters are just passing through the area on their way to the Dulles Corridor or the Legion Bridge or jobs inside the Beltway. But 100,000 of them work in Tysons, and almost all of them get there by car.

Here's some of what the Megaprojects have in store for those drivers in coming months.

Beltway HOT lanes
Construction of the new I-495 south (outer loop) bridge over Route 123 continues and should be done by early summer. Then the lanes of I-495 south will shift to the new bridge. The left lanes in each direction on Route 123 under I-495 will be closed again very soon for 18 to 24 months.

After the new bridge is done, the original I-495 south bridge over Route 123 will be demolished over a weekend.

The HOT lanes and Metrorail construction are so close together at the Beltway in Tysons that it's difficult to tell which piers are being built for the highway and which for the rail line. The highway piers are the lighter-colored ones. The Metrorail piers are a darker, reddish color. Eventually, the new rail line will pass over the Beltway there.

Metrorail on Route 123
Drivers will see the most intense construction near the future Tysons East Metrorail Station between McLean and Tysons Corner near the Dulles Connector Road, where several lane closures and detours continue:
-- The right lane of southbound Route 123 is closed from Scotts Crossing Road to the ramp to northbound I -495 for two years. The ramp to I-495 remains open.
-- The ramp from southbound Route 123 in McLean to eastbound Dulles Connector Road and I-66 is closed for three months for pier construction to support elevated tracks.
-- There will be some day and night closures this month on sections of Chain Bridge Road, which parallels Route 123 in the McLean area, because trusses will be used to erect guideways for the aerial tracks above the Dulles Connector Road.

Metrorail on Route 7
Widening of Route 7 is taking place this spring between the Dulles Toll Road and Route 123 where the rail line and two stations -- Tysons Central 7 and Tysons West -- will be built. All mid-block left turns and the east- and west-bound service roads will be eliminated. Station construction will cause significant long-term lane shifts for east-bound traffic, but no lanes will be closed.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 6, 2010; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  
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Will this affect /the/ chain bridge? There was insane traffic on N Glebe/Military this morning.

Posted by: wpjunk | April 6, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

One thing that would have solved this and other traffic related problems? A Tysons Tunnel for Metro!

Posted by: esmobster | April 6, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Just got word that Route 123 will not open for evening rush hour. This is gunna be a fun commute home.......

Posted by: thetan | April 6, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

All the steel will rust. All the cement will freeze, crack, and crumble. Only the dirt removed to make the tunnel would not have to be re-dug in 50 years... and it's the only thing they would not pay for.

Posted by: blasmaic | April 6, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

All the steel will rust. All the cement will freeze, crack, and crumble. Only the dirt removed to make the tunnel would not have to be re-dug in 50 years... and it's the only thing they would not pay for.

Posted by: blasmaic | April 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Just to clarify, the so-called "red piers" that are the supports for the Metro line over the beltway will not be red when completed. The red is just the color of the forms used to cast the concrete. However, the final color of the concrete of those piers appears to be a slightly lighter grey than the ones cast for the HOT lanes project. Another way to tell the difference between the projects is architectually, the Metro piers are rectagular solids, while the beltway piers are cylindrical.

Which leads me to ask, why have the designers of the Metro Silver Line decided to change the architecture of this section. Most of the rest of the system, particularly where lines go over roadways, features cylindrical piers. Why the change on this section to rectagular supports?

Posted by: Russtinator | April 7, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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