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Headaches on the horizon

I promised a traveler today that I would provide some specifics about the National Park Service reconstruction project on Ohio Drive near the Lincoln Memorial, so let me start the nightly report with that.

Ohio Drive
This week, there are no lane closings scheduled during the daytime, but from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. tonight through Thursday night you might find Ohio Drive closed from 23rd Street and Independence Avenue to the ramp to Lincoln Memorial Circle. Also, Old Constitution Avenue may be closed from the ramp to Lincoln Memorial Circle to Rock Creek Parkway. There will be detour signs.

Beltway HOT lanes
As usual, there's a lot of work scheduled from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. along the western side of the Capital Beltway in Virginia. (A traveler said during my online chat today that there aren't enough signs warning drivers of such work ahead. Do you night owls find that to be true?)

-- At Little River Turnpike (Route 236), three right lanes on each loop of the Capital Beltway are scheduled to close for bridge work. After midnight, there may be full closings of each loop lasting less than half an hour.
-- Two right lanes on I-395 north at the Beltway will be closed for steel erection.
-- Two lanes will be closed on Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) north at the Beltway for sign work.

Dulles Metrorail project
Despite the project's name, the work is nowhere near Dulles Airport right now. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., two left-turn lanes on Leesburg Pike (Route 7) west are scheduled to close at Westwood Center Drive in Tysons Corner for utility work.

I-95 north lanes closing
From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., three lanes are scheduled to close on I-95 north from the Route 1 on-ramp to the Pohick Road overpass. This is for paving. One lane will close at 9 p.m., followed by the second and third lane by 10:30 p.m. After midnight, expect occasional full closures lasting up to 15 minutes. This is for the Interstate widening project.

I-95 south lanes closing
From 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., two right lanes will be closed on I-95 south from the Backlick Road/Fullerton Road exit (167) to just south of the Fairfax County Parkway (Route 7100) exit (166) for barrier placement. The second lane will not be closed until 10:30 p.m. This is a ramp-widening project near Fort Belvoir.

MD 201/Beltway
Drivers may find the shoulders closed on the Beltway as crews work on the Kenilworth Avenue (MD 201) bridge above. There may be temporary lane closings on both Kenilworth and the Beltway.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 3, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Congestion , Driving , highways  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Headaches on the horizon  
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Question for you, Dr. G: I've lived in the DC area since 1974 and am familiar with lots of obscurities, but I've never heard of "Old Constitution Avenue" before. Which road is that?

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 3, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I second 1995hoo's question. I'm a lot newer to the DC area than he is, but I know the roadway network pretty well and have yet to ever come across that term before. Probably an obscure reference to something like the ramp from I-395 to 12th Street being called the "11th Street (SW) Bridge". Any reference to Old Constitution is probably referring to a pre-Roosevelt Bridge traffic pattern, which dates back the better part of half a century.

Speaking of the 11th Street Bridge, when is that ramp from SB I-395 to 12th Street re-opening? That would actually help some of us in-the-know drivers avoid this Ohio Drive nightmare by providing a quick connection to Constitution from I-395 if only it were open.

Posted by: thetan | May 4, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: "Old Constitution" is pretty obscure. I had not heard of it till I saw it on a park service map of the Ohio Drive project. The roadway is just south of Constitution Avenue, near the Roosevelt Bridge. If you're looking at a map that shows the Lincoln Memorial Circle, draw a line out from 10 o'clock on the circle. You can see it on the park service map with this earlier blog posting about the Ohio Drive project:

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | May 4, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Based on the last time I went over the 12th Street ramp (Game 2 of the Caps' playoff series), it won't be open in the direction you describe any time soon, as the left side of the bridge over the railroad tracks still has a long way to go before it's finished.

Regarding Old Constitution Avenue, I did a Google search and all the results were connected with this project. It appears that thetan is right about it being a leftover piece of pre-Roosevelt Bridge roadway, which makes sense since the roads had to be realigned when the bridge opened in 1964. From what I found, it appears that "Old Constitution Avenue" is the technical name for the short stretch of road between just south of where Rock Creek Parkway goes under the Roosevelt Bridge (there is a small faux-roundabout here), i.e., if you're coming from Independence Avenue and want to take Rock Creek Parkway, this is the spot where the road cuts a sharp right and where, during the afternoon rush hour, the "Kennedy Center Only" barrier is located. The other end of "Old Constitution Avenue" appears to be where the road sometimes called the Potomac River Freeway meets Ohio Drive. It seems that Constitution Avenue ended at Rock Creek Parkway prior to the construction of the Roosevelt Bridge.

No map I can find actually uses the name "Old Constitution Avenue," though. Every one I've seen labels that segment as part of Rock Creek Parkway or as part of Ohio Drive.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 4, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Here is a 1942 Esso map of DC showing how the road used to run:

(No Kennedy Center nor Watergate yet, either, and note that Memorial Bridge was still shown as a drawbridge at the time. I believe the drawspan was locked down when the 14th Street Bridge was twinned, as the outbound and express lane bridges don't have drawspans.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 4, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

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