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The weekend and beyond

Highway departments in the D.C. region pull up their orange barrels for the Memorial Day weekend getaway and the get-back. I've got some suggestions on the best times for you to be traveling and the routes to take to popular destinations. And whether you're sticking around for the weekend or just thinking about next week, check the local activities and the road and rail projects that may slow you down.

Holiday getaway
The Capital Weather Gang's weekend forecast contains shower and maybe thunderstorms for later on Friday, but cool temperatures make for decent traveling weather. Sunday and Monday are looking pretty good for return trips. See suggestions on the best and worst travel times and other tips for summer getaways.

Metro Memorial Day weekend
There will be no Orange Line service between the East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations during the entire Memorial Day holiday weekend (Saturday, Sunday, Monday) and the first two weekends in June. The Dulles Metrorail project will be working on the first of a series of construction programs that by 2013 will connect the new rail line to the rest of the system.

Metro will operate free shuttle buses between the two stations, but riders should add at least half an hour to their travel times.

The service disruptions will begin on each of the Friday nights. From 10 p.m. to the 3 a.m. closing this Friday and on June 4 and 11, trains will share a track between East Falls Church and Vienna. Riders traveling between the stations at those late-night hours should add at least 40 minutes to regular travel times.

Rolling Thunder
Expect to see a lot of motorcycles in the D.C. area over the weekend, especially on Sunday for the annual Rolling Thunder tribute. Arlington County police will close Washington Boulevard between I-395 and the Memorial Bridge from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. From about 9 a.m. to noon, the ramp from eastbound Interstate 66 to southbound Route 110 and the ramp from eastbound Wilson Boulevard to southbound Route 110 will be closed. National Park police will close Memorial Bridge from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Arlington National Cemetery will be accessible only from southbound George Washington Parkway or northbound Route 110. Key Bridge and the 14th Street Bridge will be open.

Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge got its third lane back this week after a nearly year long rehabilitation project on the aging bridge structure. The traditional rush-hour traffic pattern has been restored. In the morning, there are two lanes for District-bound traffic. In the evening, there are two lanes for Virginia-bound traffic.

Dulles Metrorail/Magarity Road
Drivers who use Magarity Road in the McLean-Falls Church-Tysons area may encounter significant delays on some nights next week when the road closes between Olney Road and Great Falls Street between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The Dulles Metrorail project is installing decking on a new bridge that will carry tracks for the new line in the median of the Dulles Connector Road across Magarity Road.

Drivers could detour by using Anderson Road, Chain Bridge Road and Great Falls Street.

New York Avenue
The traffic pattern at New York and Florida avenues NE is scheduled to change late next week, as the District's New York Avenue reconstruction project moves into a new phase.

After the changes, traffic will flow in a circular pattern around the intersection. Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all will need to look sharp, as this will be a very different experience for them in a heavily traveled area. The change is scheduled to occur at 9 p.m. Friday, June 4, so most commuters would first encounter it on Monday, June 7.

The $3 million reconfiguration of the intersection is meant to to improve circulation and decrease accidents. The project is scheduled to be completed in August and final traffic pattern changes will be announced at that time, the District Department of Transportation said.

New Beltway bridge opening
The Capital Beltway's outer loop is scheduled to shift onto a new bridge over Route 123 in Tysons Corner next week, as the HOT lanes project advances another step. The Beltway traffic shift, set for Wednesday night, will be followed eight days later by a full weekend closing of Route 123 to demolish the old outer loop bridge.

The shift of traffic on the outer loop in Tysons Corner is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and be done by 5 a.m. Thursday. Drivers will shift to the right as they approach the Route 123 interchange on Interstate 495 south. Exit ramps to Route 123 north and south have been realigned. As motorists pass the Route 123 interchange, they will shift back to the current lane configuration. See more details on Beltway HOT lanes shift.

Braddock Road/Beltway
A new overpass opened Thursday, giving motorists on westbound Braddock Road a smooth surface while traveling over the Capital Beltway, says Mike Salmon, a spokesman for the Virginia Megaprojects office. The temporary traffic signal at I-495 north to Braddock Road west will be removed as well, so motorists heading home in the evening should see some relief.

Next week, the eastbound traffic will shift to the new bridge. Once the traffic gets shifted to the new span, the old overpass will be torn down and a new one will be built in its place. But while the work continues, all the eastbound and westbound traffic will be on the new bridge. Both overpasses, which are part of the HOT lanes project, should be in operation by late 2011.

Ohio Drive
Next week, the National Park Service plans to start the next phase of the road reconstruction on Ohio Drive between the Lincoln Memorial and the Kennedy Center. This will mean changes in both the rush hour and off-peak traffic patterns. There will always be two lanes open inbound during the morning rush and two lanes outbound during the evening rush. Pedestrians and cyclists are being detoured around the east side of the Lincoln Memorial during the entire program. All the work should be done by late fall.

Beltway/Forestville Road
The Maryland State Highway Administration is beginning the rehabilitation of a Prince George's County bridge over the Beltway. The northbound lane of Forestville Road will close between Allentown Road and the exit ramp from the Beltway's inner loop. Only southbound motorists will be able to use Forestville Road across the Beltway.

Crews might also close a single lane of the Beltway from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights. Work should be done by fall 2011.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 28, 2010; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving , Metro , Weekend Work , highways , holiday travel , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, The weekend and beyond  
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