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More From Maryland on Legion Bridge Project

The jam-up caused by the repainting project at the American Legion Bridge has been the hottest topic in the Dr. Gridlock mailbag for two weeks, so I wrote about it for a second week in a row on Sunday.

South of Legion Bridge.jpg Northbound Beltway traffic is heavy south of bridge. (Robert Thomson)

You Beltway and George Washington Parkway commuters have definitely gotten the attention of the Maryland and Virginia highway departments. Plus, I got an e-mail from Rep. Chris Van Hollen's office indicating that the Maryland congressman also was hearing about this. (It's not a federal project. The work is being done by the Maryland State Highway Administration.)

Because there wasn't enough space to do so in the newspaper column, I thought I'd share with you here the full communication I received on Friday from SHA spokesman Chuck Gischlar, addressing your continued concerns about what's going on:

Hi Dr. Gridlock -

I wanted to provide you an update on our interim improvements made on May 9 to the work zone associated with the American Legion Bridge painting project.
A little history -- SHA began a $6 million bridge painting project along I-495 (Capital Beltway) over the Potomac River (American Legion Bridge) in March. While the work will primarily take place under the bridge, in order to perform this work, the bridge painting equipment must be located on the bridge. This requires us to take most of the acceleration/ramp lane on the inner loop for the time it takes to perform the blast cleaning. As you are all aware we have been getting complaints about traffic impacts due to our American Legion Bridge painting project, especially the impacts on the GW Parkway.
After merge.jpg But it opens up just after parkway merge. (Robert Thomson)
On Friday, May 4, SHA made a series of adjustments to help ease congestion due to the reduced merge lane. SHA added a variable message sign (VMS) along northbound George Washington Parkway between Turkey Run and I-495. The VMS describes to motorists that a reduced merge lane is ahead. Another VMS was installed along the inner loop I-495 near VA 193 (Georgetown Pike). This VMS asked motorists to merge left to allow additional merge spacing along northbound GW Parkway to the inner loop I-495. SHA also increased the length of the accelerations (merge lane) by changing most of the solid white separation line to a dashed line. These adjustments improved the flow of traffic, though only slightly.
Along with those previously mentioned and the help of others including the contractor, Blastech Enterprises, SHA implemented further improvements on May 9 that we hope will further reduce the traffic impacts. The contractor adjusted the placement of the temporary concrete barrier which allowed us to increase the acceleration/ramp area to approximately 600 feet from the original of 400 feet.
In about three weeks the contractor will be able to move his equipment further along the bridge. Once this occurs, we will again adjust the placement of the concrete barrier and be able to increase the acceleration/ramp area by another 200 feet. With the help of these changes and the commuters getting use to the new traffic pattern, hopefully the impacts to traffic will be reduced even further. Following the adjustment in a month, that will be the staging area until fall as the equipment will not be able to be moved again.
We are well aware of the delays this project has caused and we do apologize to motorists for the continued delays. We are working hard to implement some short-term congestion relief improvements and again thank motorists for their patience.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 14, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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Comments

The electronic signs are suppose to help this problem? How so? The problem is simply the taking away one lane from the bridge. You can put all the advanced signage in the world in place but still if there is a lane closed, traffic volumes will suffer.

I am looking at changing jobs because of the fiasco. I can not take a 1 hour (use to be 30 minutes) one-way commute for the next 6 months.

Posted by: Barry | May 14, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

It could be worse. They could NOT paint the bridge.

Which, eventually, would develop rust problems. Which would require it to be completely rebuilt.

Which would be worse.

Posted by: wiredog | May 14, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Whatever SHA did to improve/increase the merge lane to 200 feet did NOT help traffic in the slightest. The letter from the SHA official claims that the additional 200 feet of lane increased flow "only slightly". Who is he fooling? This change took effect last Wednesday (May 9th) supposedly. Yet, traffic last Thursday and Friday mornings was absolutely horrific from Annandale to the Legion Bridge. The impacts and delays late last week were as bad as they've ever been.

And how does SHA think drivers are going to get use to these new traffic patterns? So long as one lane is closed on the bridge there will be delays. Delays that persist most of the day from 7am until 9pm. I'll be writing my congressman about this project as well; state transportation officials have no concern for the impact their project has on us, the lowly commuters.

Posted by: (still) irate commuter | May 14, 2007 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock, thank you for continuing to cover this story for all the area commuters who are effected by this.

I still don't understand why SHA can't set-up this worksite on nights and weekends, and remove it during the weekdays. Albeit there is alot of equipment involved, all the equipment is stored on trucks that are parked in the closed travel lane. The trucks and all could easily be driven off the bridge during peek hours. The regular orange traffic cones could be used in place of the more permanent white jersey wall.

And I do notice that the merge lane has been increased by 200 feet, however as others have said, it makes no difference at all. It still seems unforgettably ironic to me that the MARYLAND SHA is doing the project, and given the location of the staging area, they choose to inconvenience VIRGINIA drivers. Something has to give.

Posted by: Ellen | May 14, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I guess nobody, except wiredog it seems, cares that if this is not done the bridge will require much more drastic repair.

OK then... Let's do what NYC did when they had a problem and not maintain the bridge. Then in 5 years, when the bridge is unsafe for even one lane of driving, complain how the state did not maintain the bridge.

Posted by: silver spring | May 14, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I (and I think, most of the other folks who have been venting on this blog) are suggesting that SHA needs to find other ways to get this work done. We are not suggesting that the work and conditiion of the bridge be ignored.

Just as Ellen noted, there ARE ways to do construction projects where lane closures are set-up during off-peak hours. The amount of equipment being used for this project is no different than any other. Massive undertakings such as the Springfield interchange project never included closures of lanes during rushhours. Could you imagine if the transition/merge lane from I-295 south to the inner loop at the Wilson Bridge was suddenly done away with for 6 months?

Plus, Springfield and the Wilson Bridge project included intense media campaigns warning folks of the construction. These advanced media efforts help people plan; that is plan to take an alternate route or change their schedule entirely. There was virtually NO notice or media coverage of this project in advance. VDOT falls short in many ways, but VA's media coverage, public awareness campaigns, and general respect of citizen concerns is far greater than the lame effort MD SHA provides.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 14, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Someone from MD SHA was on the morning news this morning and the Legion Bridge nightmare came up. The good news is that they are increasing the acceleration lane by another 200 feet by the end of the month. The bad news is that part of the lane at about midspan of the bridge will remain closed until at least October.

Now here is the best part, MD SHA has the viewpoint that traffic flow in the area should improve over the coming months as commuters adjust to the pattern to include changing their work schedules and taking alternate routes. First off, the majority of people do not have the liberty to adjust their work schedules significantly. Driving this route at 10am (after the traditional end of the morning rushhour) is no better than driving it at 730am. Secondly, what alternate route? Who are they fooling? Its impractical (and in some cases, not legally possible) to take the Chain Bridge instead of the beltway. Whites Ferry and the Point of Rocks crossings aren't justifiable alternates for most either.

It looks like we're in for a long summer. Telecommuting, anyone?

Posted by: VA to MD driver | May 14, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

I think this painting project shows a major problem and I believe it is the cause of most traffic in the area. No one knows how to properly merge. It is a gift that the merge extended to an exit. Now that things are how they really should be, traffic comes to a stand still on the GW Parkway and 495???

Posted by: Sivad | May 14, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering why the already suggested idea of closing the Beltway's right lane entirely beginning a half/quarter mile before the merge area has not been taken seriously. The right lane could then open up to the other travel lanes a bit after the GW Pkwy merge. That allows the GW drivers to have that right lane to accelerate. People would be able to better adjust to a lane they knew was predictably CLOSED until November rather than variable amount of merging GW traffic.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 14, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The good doctor and the rest of the media need to start "calling BS" when presented with self-serving, unbelievable statements from any of the highway departments, Metro, etc.

Posted by: cb | May 14, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The idea of closing the right lane (of four) of the beltway before the merge point so traffic from the GW Parkway can merge more smoothly is a great one from the standpoint of improving traffic flow on the GW Parkway. BUT, can you imagine the impact this would have on the beltway traffic? Four lanes northbound from Tysons into MD is inadequate as is, let alone only three lanes! Traffic on I-495 would suffer immensely, and the ripple effect of this would be felt in all of Tysons Corner and on the Dulles Toll Road as well. I'm sure the intelligent folks at SHA considered this option but they made the correct decision in deciding against it.

Sivad, I agree with your point in part. It relates to the posting that "Michael" had in last Thursday's blog. But, how can drivers in this area ever learn how to merge properly if they aren't given ample distance to merge?

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 14, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

First of all, thank you, thank you Dr. Gridlock for keeping us informed. The information-seeking contacts we as lowly commuters make to the MD SHA result in "automated reply" e-mail messages.

silverspring, its not a question or doing vs. not doing the bridge maintenance work. It is a question of completing the work in a way that impacts traffic as little as possible. Opting to permanently close one lane of one of the few Potomac River crossings in this area is a poor choice made only by MD SHA. I concur with others in that MD SHA set up this project in a way as to convenient the VA driver as much as possible. Driving around my neighborhood in north Arlington (near the Fairfax County border with McLean) is a nightmare most afternoons now with bailout traffic from the GW Parkway. All of these cars with MD tags driving like a bunch of speed demons on 25MPH residential streets. And, I don't blame them; they are frustrated and there are NO alternate routes. Let me repeat for MD SHA, there are NO alternate routes. I'm working to get the Fairfax County & Arlington County Boards involved in this complete and utter mess.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 14, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Now that things are how they really should be, traffic comes to a stand still on the GW Parkway and 495???

What are you trying to say? The American Legion Bridge should only be eight lanes, four in each direction? I don't think so.

Or maybe some of this gridlocked traffic could use the Techway to get across the Potomac instead? I blame Montgomery County and the selfish roponents of the "agricultural preserve" for the fact that there is no river crossing between Sterling, VA and Gaithersburg, MD.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 14, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The American Legion Bridge is ten lanes wide with the right most lanes immediately ending as exits on either side of the Potomac (193 and Clara Barton). When I took GW Pkwy North to 495 North, I'll never do that again, only the merge lane was occupied by the painting vehicles, effectively making that side of the bridge four lanes as normal as many other parts of the beltway or any limited access road for that matter. There are only two reasons I can think of that this is a major problem: 1) the forementioned merging issue 2) the stop when I see a cop mentality
The bridge needs to be repainted so there is nothing else that can be done at this point, but to endure the pain for a few months. Perhaps the time line for painting the bridge is too long, but as people have pointed out I would rather have the bridge painted now and then to have it fall into the Potomac later.

Posted by: Sivad | May 14, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks Laura for the tip. Unfortunately, taking Metro for me is not really an option. I work near MOntgomery Mall in Bethesda and the nearest Metro stop would be something like White Flint and then I'd have to take a bus to the office.

irate commuter,

This is a continuation of the metro tip from the May 10th post, but I figured you would probably see it here. I completely understand why you would not want to take metro if logistically it is inconvient to get to the station close to home. But for future reference (or if you would like to test it out and see how it goes), the best metro station to go to for your work would be Grosvenor-Strathmore. Here you can pick up the Ride-on 96 bus (special fare only 35 cents at all times). The bus runs pretty frequently (every 10-15 minutes) and usually runs on time. The trip from the station to the area where your work (Rockledge area i'm assuming?) is about 10 minutes or so depending on traffic.

Alternately, you could also go to White Flint metro and catch the Ride-on 26 bus, which also goes near that area.

Check out http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov and type ride on bus schedules into the search box to find schedules and maps of routes.

Using metro's trip planner on their home page should also give you schedule information for the trip. Hope this is helpful.

Posted by: Laura | May 14, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Replying to those who suggested that they work only at night on the AL Bridge:

I cross the bridge to MD around 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the week. At least twice last week, I noticed that they were still working at that time; I could tell because I could hear the noise of the machinery.

This tells me that if they opened that lane during rush hours, it would take longer than November to finish the work. At least they are working more than the standard 9:30 to 3:00 road construction hours.

I can't say how long they've been working these hours -- those two days I was in a lane on the right side. Usually I'm in the left lane when I cross the bridge so I wouldn't hear construction noise due to traffic noise.

Posted by: Historian | May 14, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

The contractor should have to work 24/7 to finish the project in half the time. Marylanders sure pay enough taxes so the project should be properly funded; no skimping just to drag out the work.

Posted by: Fed up | May 14, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Again, Thanks to Dr. G for the continued coverage. This just goes to show what an important outlet your column is for area commuters.

I have again noticed the extension of the merge lane with little or no help to traffic. Based on what I am reading we are screwed big time all summer and into the fall. I like hearing that it will be over in october now. I believe this is where we may exert the most effect at this point in having this project move faster. Imagine when traffic gets bad this fall what will happen if this project is still up and running.

I pitty the guys working on the bridge in the summer heat. These workers are not at fault in all this and make sure to slow down for them (not that I imagine that speeding will be an option).

Posted by: Jamming | May 14, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Fed Up, I like your comment. I grew up in and frequently visit California, where this would not be tolerated. CalTrans isn't perfect, but I've seen flood lights and construction workers working all night when major arteries like I-5, I-405, I-580 and I-880 have needed work, and the lanes are cleared during the day. Sure, sometimes the lanes were paved over crudely, but the primary concern was keeping traffic moving during the day (which in California, isn't saying much.)

I've been amazed that the same attitude isn't taken in this part of the country, where some of our interchanges rank nearly as bad as the worst gridlock situations in Los Angeles.

I also agree with the general lack of merging skill here. That's one I really can't understand. How hard is it, really?

Posted by: The Last Man | May 15, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

The only problem with merging here is the idiots already on the highway who view you wanting to merge as a challenge to their manhood...or womanhood (ladies, you're not exempt here :) ).

I saw an interesting thing in Frederick the other day. Where MD-26 goes from two lanes to one lane to exit onto US-15, there's a big sign that says "Alternate Merge." Signs like that apparently do exist in the MD SHA inventory...now they need to install them more often.

Posted by: cb | May 15, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Laura, thanks for your DETAILED response. I appreciate your insight. In looking at a Montgomery County map, your right, Grovsenor (don't ask me how to pronounce that name) probably is the closest stop for me. Your correct, I do work off of Democracy Blvd in the Rockledge area most days. Some days I work further north in Rockville near 270 and Route 28, although again Metro and Ride-on buses are probably good options up that way as well.

Its nice to have this board as a sort of release and a way to express your thoughts about the transportations snafus (I'll keep it mild) in this area. Its also nice to see all the other great, working professionals out there who are going through the same Chinese water torture as I am.

PS: I'm in a good mood today because I got to work at 7:15am this morning. FYI for all you folks who can work a flex schedule, the GW Parkway and the Legion Bridge are not backed up at 6:55am in the morning, at least they weren't this morning.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 15, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Here are some alternatives (GW Pkwy North): Morning - Spout Run -> Right to US-29 South -> I-66 West -> 267 to 495 North. Evening - Spout Run -> Lorcom Lane -> Right on Military -> Right Exit to 120 North -> Left to 123 South -> Pick Your Poison: (1)GW Pkwy or (2)193 to 495

The morning option is much better than delays from Rossyln to 495 even when 66 is bad through Falls Church because you will quickly meet up with 267. In the evening remember those are local streets so use extreme caution. Arlington will be strictly enforcing the speed limit of 30mph. Also you can take US-29 to Military if you are not on the GW Parkway before Spout Run.

Posted by: Sivad | May 15, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I just found this blog so I'm chiming in a little late. But, I 100% concur with the majority of folks here. Its not a question of getting the bridge mainteance done, its a question of doing the work in a way that is the least obtrusive to traffic. Does MD SHA realize that 10-14 miles of I-495 in VIRGINIA are backed up every morning and afternoon and another 8-10 miles of the GW Parkway in VIRGINIA are backed up every afternoon because of this mind numbing decision to close a lane of the bridge for 6 months?

You guys are right, I don't blame the workers or the contractors. In fact, I'm concerned for their safety more than anything. Come summer, it'll be 100 degree on the surface of that bridge combining the air temperature with all the fumes of all the stopped traffic. The only people to blame for this are Chuck Gishlar and the MD SHA District 3 office, based out of Rockville MD I think.

Keep hounding them with your messages everyone! Get your congressman involved! This can not last another day.

At 10am this morning, the GW Parkway was slow from Route 123 northbound and the beltway was slow from before Route 7 in Tysons Corner because of this idiotic project. Combined on both routes, that is about 10 miles of stopped traffic in one state because of another state's utterly ridiculous decision to close a lane!!

DR. GRIDLOCK, why can't this project be changed? This lane CAN NOT be closed during rushhours. If this were any other area of the country, this semi-permanent workzone would never be permitted.

Posted by: Fed Up too | May 15, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Fed Up too, I just got to work in Rockville MD about an hour ago and sat through the same delays you note, just as many other folks did. The miles of stopped traffic on the GW Parkway and I-495 in the mornings are a complete mess, traffic this week is worse than last week and last week was worse than the week before it seems. Extending the merge lane by 200 feet didn't do a bit of good. And the ridiculous electronic message board that was erected is hardly even noticeable due to sun glare.

So, I sent a strongly worded message to the MD SHA last Friday about this boon-doggle. The good news, I got a real response from a real person, not one of those "automated replys". I basically expressed my frustration about their decision to close one lane for 6 months, noting that the work should be done during the overnight hours. I'm talking about a 9pm to 5am type thing just as what is done in Springfield VIRGINIA and Alexandira VIRGINIA for the large construction projects going on there. By 5 or 5:30am in the morning, all lanes should be reopened. Well I got a response that said something to the effect that given the large amount of equipment and materials involved in this project, there must be a permanent staging area and its not practical to remove all the equipment and set it up again every night when work resumes.

I beg to disagree. I lived in NY for several years and the transportation authority in NY/NJ regularly closes tubes of the bridges and tunnels going into Manhattan during the OVERNIGHT hours for maintenance and cleaning; I'm sure much of the same equipment is used yet the adept transportation folks up there are able to clear night roadwork by 5am to given area bridges and tunnels full capacity for the morning rushhour.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 15, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Sivad, your alternatives are decent ones but they really don't make alot of difference in my experience. First off, there are now way too many MARYLAND cars on the streets of North Arlington in the afternoon; the 25mph and 30mph speed limits on Old Dominion Drive, Glebe Rd, Military Rd and Lorcom Lane are a complete joke. Arlington County oughta set up shop out there during the afternoon; they'd be raking in profits from folks going 50mph+ on these residential streets.

Your alternative for the morning rushhour doesn't work at all really because I-66 West towards Tysons is VERY slow already in the morning as is and my neighbors suggest it is not even slower, probably a result of traffic trying to avoid GW. Once you get on 267 West from 66, its a breeze but then you still have to head north on I-495 and the inner loop is at a standstill most mornings now from Route 123 or Route 7 all the way to the bridge; so in essence, you join the beltway delays much "sooner" in an effort to avoid the GW Parkway delays. The evening alternate route is a semi-decent one from my experience although the traffic light at Glebe and Chain Bridge Rd on the VA end of the bridge is a real problem. That intersection should have been grade separated years ago.

Posted by: North Arlington resident | May 15, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Hello all, For anyone commuting from points west of I-495 in VA to MD, you may want to explore using the Georgetown Pike from Great Falls, instead of Route 123 or the Dulles Toll Road to get to the beltway. I have just started commuting in on the Georgetown Pike about 9am or so in the morning and its generally smooth sailing most of the way; its fairly tranquil driving too aside from the renegage landscaping trucks moving at 5mph as they exit from these million dollar home developments.

Once you get to the beltway, there is a last minute crunch of cars moving left to get to the left-turn ramp to I-495 north this is always a bit of a disaster, but relatively bearable. Entering 495 north from the Georgetown Pike, you have a mile-long transition lane to use on the inner loop that ultimately exits to the GW Parkway south. With this 5th lane, beltway traffic in the right two lanes generally is moving much better at this point than traffic to the far left. Take your time and move left by the point at which the GW Parkway traffic exits south, move as far left as possible then in time to avoid the right lane closure on the bridge.

Posted by: VA to MD driver | May 15, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding me, this is going to last until October? I can't even imagine what traffic will be like right after Labor Day.

Dr. Gridlock, could you please advocate that this project be changed? This is causing inconvenience and stress on thousands and thousands of commuters each day.

I live in older, modest area of McLean and I can't get out of my neighborhood in the afternoon now because of the gridlock traffic on Old Dominion Drive and Kirby Rd.

The DC area needs a transportation taskforce that can work together to meet the needs and serve the capacity of all residents. I'm sure the folks at the helm in Maryland don't get one iota about residential traffic in McLean.

For everyone's safety, could everyone please just SLOW DOWN! This includes all the peeved Maryland drivers looking for any route possible to avoid the 10+ mile delays on the GW Parkway during the afternoon.

As another aside, WTOP typically has great traffic coverage however they are providing little coverage or even mention of the effects this construction has on roads. On three traffic reports at 6pm or so last night, no mention was even made of the impact this project has.

In addition to Dr. Gridlock's advocacy, we need to get other media outlets involved in this.

Posted by: McLean | May 15, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Everyone complaining about the lack of merge skills in this area: you are completely correct.

Though the work on the AL has made my commute a little worse, I'm pretty lucky: I do a reverse commute from DC along the GW to 193. For those of you backed up for miles waiting to get on 495-N, I'm one the cars zooming by you in the left lane. These days, I usually exit at 123 and take that to the Pike, but when I don't, I get pretty peeved to be stopped behind somebody waiting until the last second to leave the left lane bound for 495 south to get into the parking lot in the right lane. A simple rule for everyone: if you can't change lanes without stopping and nudging your way in, you are being a jerk! Imagine if everyone drove the way you do. And for the situation on the bridge or (my biggest complaints) the exit from GW south onto 395 north and the ramp from 395-S to GW north, yield does not mean stop! Unless you are driving a Ferrari, you need a little space to accelerate from 0 to highway speed. Next time try rolling through at 20-30 MPH and accelerate through the short merge area and get into the lane. You put yourself and everyone behind you in a more dangerous position by making us all hope no speed demon is coming up out of sight. And when you are driving and approach a short merge area, be considerate. It won't slow you down that much to change lanes for a moment to let the traffic in, or at least slow down a bit so they can get in front you.

Posted by: ReverseCommuter | May 15, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

People do the same on 66 to the inner loop during the mornings. The exit has 2 lanes and occasionally people in the right lane on 66 refuse to move into the extra right exit lane to allow the middle lane on 66 to move into the left exit lane. The middle lane cannot go straight since 66 is all HOV, so there is no reason why both lanes cannot move over 1 lane. Some people just don't get it...

Posted by: Chris | May 15, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"RE:North Arlington Resident" The 1 mile delay on 66 is far better than the 10 mile delay from Rosslyn to 495 on the GWP. Of course 495 is backed up around 193 and GW Pkwy in the morning but at least you avoid the Tysons Corner debacle and have a sense you are out of major congestion. I am not saying these are home free alternatives, but unfortunately they are the only "sensible" options available. Remember everyone to slow down on residential streets. Don't take your anger out on them by making their neighborhood more hazardous.

Posted by: Sivad | May 15, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Holy f, can you imagine what the inner loop will look like on the Friday before Memorial Day? If there is one positive from this situation, it is that the fragility of our transportation infrastructure has been very loudly demonstrated. The painting helps to preserve the bridge, but bridges don't last forever. What happens when major rebuilding has to happen on our roads which are now showing their age? Can this area handle mutiple Wilson Bridge type projects at the same time?

Posted by: trafficblows | May 15, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Come Memorial Day Weekend, I'll be camping out on my porch, watching all the feeder roads clog up, sipping lemonade and thanking the Lord I don't have to drive anywhere that weekend. Eek!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 15, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree with everyone that merging skills of most drivers in this area need ALOT of improvement. However, its not just the drivers; some simple repainting of the lanes would do a heck of alot for traffic flow. I think Virginia is the worst offender here. After YEARS of advocacy and promoting, VA DOT finally redid the lane configuration on the Dulles Toll Road approaching the main toll plaza. The signs and the lane markings did not match for years. Now its very clear that the two left lanes can use the two Smart-Tag only lanes at the toll plaza.

Lane markings could be vastly improved in other areas as well. I-66 approaching the beltway could be changed to suggest that both right lanes have full access to I-495 North, without putting a squeeze play on traffic. Eastbound Route 193 at the beltway is the SAME exact way. If drivers in the original left lane could move to the left most turning lane, this would allow for drivers in the original right lane to move to the other turning lane.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 16, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everyone that merging skills of most drivers in this area need ALOT of improvement. However, its not just the drivers; some simple repainting of the lanes would do a heck of alot for traffic flow. I think Virginia is the worst offender here. After YEARS of advocacy and promoting, VA DOT finally redid the lane configuration on the Dulles Toll Road approaching the main toll plaza. The signs and the lane markings did not match for years. Now its very clear that the two left lanes can use the two Smart-Tag only lanes at the toll plaza.

Lane markings could be vastly improved in other areas as well. I-66 approaching the beltway could be changed to suggest that both right lanes have full access to I-495 North, without putting a squeeze play on traffic. Eastbound Route 193 at the beltway is the SAME exact way. If drivers in the original left lane could move to the left most turning lane, this would allow for drivers in the original right lane to move to the other turning lane.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 16, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"Of course 495 is backed up around 193 and GW Pkwy in the morning but at least you avoid the Tysons Corner debacle and have a sense you are out of major congestion."

I wish it was only as bad as you suggest. Every morning at 9am, 495 north is backed up from somewhere between Routes 7 and 123 all the way to the bridge. I think the original comment by the North Arlington resident is right; using I-66 west is just as bad as the GWP north in the morning when trying to get to points in MD. Out of north Arlington, I'd probably suggest Old Dominion Drive connecting with 193 West to 495; this way you get to 495 within a mile of the bridge (and at a point much further north than if you are coming off the 66-267 connector).

From past commuting experience in the area of north Arlington, it may even be worth going into upper NW DC in the morning to get up to MD. Use Key Bridge or Chain Bridge then go outbound on MacArthur or Massachusetts (Canal Rd doesn't work because its one-way inbound until 10am).

As odd as it may seem, when I use to commute from Dranesville to upper NW DC, I actually used 193 to 495-North to the Clara Barton Pkwy to MacArthur to Goldsboro to Massachusetts. Even though I went from VA to MD to DC, this route was far faster than any other. (Of course, I'm sure this isn't the case anymore with the AL Bridge mess.)

Posted by: VA to MD driver | May 16, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

From a traffic engineering perspective (and yes, I am one), MD SHA really botched this one big time. Obviously it is the merge that is causing the main problem. The amount of traffic merging from GW Parkway on the Virginia side is far greater than the amount of traffic merging from theClara Barton Parkway on the Maryland side. Clearly, establishing the staging area on the southbound side of the bridge would have had significantly less effect on the traffic flow, since there is much less traffic that needs to merge, and most of that traffic is already lined up in the 4 left lanes!

The DOT's wonder why they have such a bad reputation amongst the public. This is one great example of why the public mistrusts the DOT's. This type of "screw the public" attitude that MD SHA has shown the drivers on the American Legion Bridge (and I don't mean the effect of the construction on traffic, as they obviously didn't realize the effects would be so bad...I mean their refusal to stop the project and rethink the traffic control plan and "stay the course") is exactly what gets the public up in arms when a construction project is proposed in their area....this is the type of behavior that spawns NIMBYism. If I were MD SHA, I'd pull up the barriers and stop the project right now, and then find another way to do it with a southbound staging area. Its the right thing to do and the best way to avoid a public relations nightmare.

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 16, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

One more thing...here is a good shortcut for those coming up GW Parkway (it won't bypass the congestion completely, but it will bypass a lot of it): stay in the left lane approaching the bridge. Most bridge-bound drivers do stay right, so you do get to zoom down the open left lane and skip a good deal of the traffic. Go south on I-495. Then get off at Route 193, and make 2 lefts (U-turn in effect). Then you can utilize the lane connecting the Route 193 ramp to GW Parkway for a short while (but don't abuse it too much). In my experience, approaching from the Beltway is better than the GW Parkway. There is a very good chance that a 20 minute delay on the parkway would only be a 5 minute delay coming from the Beltway via Route 193 ramp. This was the case when I had to go this way last night.

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 16, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

The poster named "cb" mentioned an "Alternate Merge" sign in Maryland. There is also such a sign on the ramp from Pennsylvania Avenue to northbound DC-295 after you come over the Sousa Bridge. I don't know how often it's honored, though. Given the way the people in that part of DC tend to drive, I suspect that if the sign is respected, it's only by commuters from elsewhere.

Posted by: Rich | May 17, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Hmm no post about the newly approved HOT lanes in Virginia? Dr. G. must be on vacation. Atleast he didn't leave with a post about 270 being closed for a week again...

Posted by: Laura | May 17, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Rich--

I don't drive the road (MD-26) with the merge sign as a daily trip, but the times I have it's seems to work. It might be that it's a little less urban up here. I agree that closer in it may not make a difference, but it can't hurt to try.

Posted by: cb | May 17, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

We could avoid much of this by having another bridge further north. But, no, we have a number of very wealthy people next to Maryland's "agricultural reserve" that would be impacted. You can't put a bridge high over a field that would still allow deer and antelope to play? Nothing like trading the needs of the many for a few.

Posted by: stuck_in_traffic | May 17, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

stuck_in_traffic,

Your right, MD is the biggest culprit behind why a second bridge (The Techway) has not been built. But lets not forget the affluent neighbors on the VA side; I'm sure the rich folk of Great Falls, VA would have no part of a new Techway cutting through their community either. Most likely, this may be a moot point though as another crossing would be further upstream (northwest) than Great Falls, VA. Of course, it makes most sense to continue VA 28 or the Fairfax County Parkway further north to connect with the dubbed Techway bridge.

There was a BRIEF (and vague) news report on WTOP this morning suggesting renewed conversation about construction of the Techway river crossing. Of course, Montgomery County's stance in having such a road built through their "ag preserve" was a critical point in the report. MD and Montgomery County (and all the other anti-highway groups) fail to recognize that highways can be built through undeveloped land while still keeping the land's rural character. This is called zoning. Strignent zoning requirements (that are already in place really) would/could prohibit further development in western Montgomery County if the Techway were built. And of course, the Techway could NOT have any interchanges along the stretch running through the ag preserve.

(Although slightly different in many ways, the GW Parkway runs through miles of preserved parkland.)

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 17, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Woodley Park, you gave it away, e.g. my alternate route. As suggested, this alternative saves at least 10 minutes. It is a extra two or three miles of driving but you don't notice it as much since you are moving. Most mornings, there are only a few inconsiderate, "me first" drivers who proceed full steam ahead in the left lane before slamming on their brakes and butting in to the waiting line in the right lane.

For those that try this alternative, don't follow the vehicle in front of you in the left lane too closely. They'll unexpectedly slam on their brakes, and go from 60mph to 5mph when you least expect it. (From experience in driving this route in the morning, cars with MD tags are the worst offenders here.)

Posted by: North Arlington resident | May 17, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Worse than the drivers who butt into the right lane at the last minute, are the complete idiots (like the one this morning) who think they have the right to "rule the road". As to not allow anyone to cut to the front of the backed up right lane traffic, this (Maryland!) driver was doing his best to ride in BOTH lanes, so no one could get through in the left lane, including those people who are trying to get to the ramps for 495 South. Of course, this idiot had a large 4x4 vehicle so it was difficult for alot of cars to get around him. Eventually, the person directly behind him went up into the grass to go around him, and then the others stuck behind him (including myself) followed suit.

Traffic is bad already; people acting like this is just plain absurd.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 17, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I have seen the Alternate Merge" sign in a few places in MD. However, I don't think I've ever seen one in VA. VDOT is known for its sub-par reputation when it comes to adequate, accurate signing so I guess its not likely for them to do anything genius on the issue of signage.

The ramp from the eastbound Toll Road to 495 North is one place that DEFINITELY needs an alternate merge sign. The alternate merge practice is generally done here anyways so why not promote it to other drivers who think they don't have to yield because it's not their lane that is ending (its the other lane).

And why is it that sometimes the signage is "Left Lane Ends, Merge Right" and other times it's "Right Lane Ends, Merge Left". I'd agree that the latter is more prevalent but (if my memory is correct), the Toll Road to 495-North ramp actually has signage that suggests the left lane ends.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 17, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I have seen the "Alternate Merge" sign in a few places in MD. However, I don't think I've ever seen one in VA. VDOT is known for its sub-par reputation when it comes to adequate, accurate signing so I guess its not likely for them to do anything genius on the issue of signage.

The ramp from the eastbound Toll Road to 495 North is one place that DEFINITELY needs an alternate merge sign. The alternate merge practice is generally done here anyways so why not promote it to other drivers who think they don't have to yield because it's not their lane that is ending (its the other lane).

And why is it that sometimes the signage is "Left Lane Ends, Merge Right" and other times it's "Right Lane Ends, Merge Left". I'd agree that the latter is more prevalent but (if my memory is correct), the Toll Road to 495-North ramp actually has signage that suggests the left lane ends.

Posted by: irate commuter | May 17, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

My biggest question for Maryland SHA is why all of the "staged" equipment cannot be placed under the bridge or on a barge on the river? Not only would those staging locations eliminate the need to close a lane on the AL Bridge, but it would place the equipment in locations closer to where the work is being done. You would think someone would have half a brain to have come up with a better staging point for the equipment, even if it involved clearing out some trees or building a temporary platform on the cliffside that is not only safer but less stressful on an already overcrowded crossing.

While I suffer daily through this stupidity on this bridge, I actually wish it was giong to be like this even longer so that the morons in Maryland and Montgomery County understand the absolute necessity for another Potomac crossing. Even a light rail or bus-only crossing would give commuters an alternative traveling between Fairfax and Montgomery Counties.

Posted by: Tom Stanley | May 18, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed at the negative comments. But, since I don't use the GW Parkway, my commute is merely sluggish rather than neurotic.

The problem with one traffic lane are drivers that refuse to line up. They cut in because their life is more important than others. Police presence is needed when lanes are shut down and traffic backs up. When will we get back to the old days of the traffic cop. Aggressive drivers respond extremely well to "Police Presence!"

We can then have slow moving traffic that can benefit from "electronic signs."

Can we spare three to five strategically positionsed patrol cars on the GW Parkway during rush hour for the next six months?

Posted by: Frustrated Commuter | May 18, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I wish someone would comment on my idea of fixing the beltway. I think it could help the flow of traffic significantly!

A fifth lane should be added (or extended) to the beltway on the inner and outer loop. This lane currently exists in some sections of the beltway. It's called the "merge lane" from the on and off ramps.

When cars merge onto the beltway, the lane should never end until it becomes the exit lane for cars to merge off.

Every section of the beltway that has an on-ramp that closes out is a horrific bottleneck. And every section of the beltway where the on-ramp does not close out has smoother transitions of traffic flow.

Posted by: 495 Commuter | May 18, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Dr. G, any comments on Ike Leggett and Gerry Connelly's comments yesterday morning on WTOP that they both think a new bridge is needed? Actually, I believe sending a road through the ag land is the best way to preserve it - you don't build exits to it and you keep the ag land from becoming more multi-acre mcmansions that are a monster drain on our environment (lawn maintenance, energy, efficiency of land). Also, so a bridge isn't necessary, why not use a TBM (tunnel boring machine) and go under? The river isn't very deep up there. Then NIMBYs would be NUMBYs (Not Under My Back Yard).

Posted by: Techway please! | May 18, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Techway please! What a great idea! A TBM! This is what they need in Tysons Corner as well! The thought of above ground rails is as ludicris as the current American Legion Bridge painting project.

Posted by: Brilliant | May 18, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

495- I would say the legion bridge works well when the merge-exit lane is open. You are correct that anytime there is a merge or exit like that, it always backs up traffic. Too bad the highway dept. didn't realize this when they approved this project. For the poster who suggested closing down a lane of the beltway, I didn't think this might alleviate the GW pkwy, but cause longer delays on 495N. Lets keep the pressure to get this project done as soon as possible. If this is still going on after labor day, I might have to find a new job or sell my house.

Posted by: Jamming | May 18, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I really like the idea of having cops lined up along the pkwy...also maybe if the speed limit was lowered starting at where the parkway hits 123 going northbound, it should help the situation. If everyone is going the same speed, there should be less stop and go

Also, the way to tell if someone is going to cut in on you from the left lane...is if they have a md tag. just use your sideview and it's easy to tell.

Posted by: GWPGuy | May 21, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone post the name, phone number and e-mail address of the project contractor so we can BOMBARD them directly with our complaints. We don't seem to be getting anywhere complaining to MSHA. Or post the home phone numbers of the MSHA officials responsible for this abomination. It's time to turn up the heat!!!

Posted by: I've Had It !!! | May 21, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Responding to this previous post, I don't blame the contractor at all for the inconvenience. The contractor is merely doing their job.

I agree, MD SHA is worthless. I'd try someone of higher authority within MD SHA, that is higher than Chuck Grisler - the name Dr. G gave us last week. Or better yet, get local congressmen involved.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 21, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

So, I sat in traffic on the northbound GW Parkway this morning approaching 495-North. Same old, same old.

However, I couldn't help but notice (I had plenty of time to look around) two things:

(1) VERY few vehicles are using the lengthened acceleration lane from the GW to 495-North. This acceleration lane has been widened at least 400 feet from where it originally truncated. Yet most drivers merge left as soon as possible when entering from GW. It seems that the large, temporary "YIELD" sign could be moved further up (north) and then maybe drivers would have less of a tendency to panic (some of them) or merge as soon as they do.

(2) I noticed the very empty merge, transition lane entering on the opposite side of the bridge from Clara Barton Parkway to 495-South. In the time that ramp was in my vantage point, I saw a total of 6 or 8 cars use it. As someone noted last week, simply setting up this project on the opposite side of the bridge would help out immensely; there is a very low volume of traffic entering from Clara Barton Pkwy. to go 495-South.

Posted by: North Arlington resident | May 21, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is using the extended merge lane. I noticed this also. Everyone freaks and tries to get in right away, leaving the traffic situation at the same point it was two weeks ago. The project has made improvements to extend the lane, they now need to figure out a way to get people to utilize this. BTW, I advise everyone to stay away from that area on friday afternoon with memorial day traffic. You will make better headway biking on the C&O.

Posted by: Jamming | May 22, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"When cars merge onto the beltway, the lane should never end until it becomes the exit lane for cars to merge off."

I don't think this is a solution because it just creates a different problem--people trying to get over at all sorts of places. The outbound Case Bridge on I-395 in DC is like this. The ramp from the 9th Street Tunnel comes in on the right as you go up onto the bridge, and the merge lane continues on down over the bridge to become the "Exit Only" lane for East Potomac Park. As anyone who drives there regularly can confirm, it's a free-for-all on the merging back and forth. Some people panic and stop their cars at the beginning of the merge lane because they think they MUST move over ASAP. (Dumb.) Some people slow to the speed of traffic on the highway, then try to get over when they've passed the end of the solid line that you're not supposed to cross. (I do this.) Some people go down to the end and drive onto the gore area or the shoulder before trying to get over. (They also block the exit for the park. Dumb.) Part of what makes this whole thing a problem is that you get people who cut over to use this lane as a passing lane (BAD), or who want to exit for the park (fine, that's what it's for!), and they're not planning to stop for someone who tries to merge over the gore area where the ramp splits back off.

Now move this scenario to the Beltway. Strikes me as a good chance for chaos and further crashes.

Posted by: Rich | May 22, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

And now it will take until next spring supposedly, when did this "extension" happen? This whole project is total BS.

Posted by: Chris | May 22, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the contractor has to share some of the blame. They are most likely the one that has decided where THEY need to set up the staging area so it's most convenient for THEM. If MHSA won't override that decision then they're both to blame.

Posted by: Mr. Jones | May 22, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The spring !!!!!!! I've had to take an altenative to work, but that ads an extra 20 min onto my commute. I think this is the best idea yet.

"I noticed the very empty merge, transition lane entering on the opposite side of the bridge from Clara Barton Parkway to 495-South. In the time that ramp was in my vantage point, I saw a total of 6 or 8 cars use it. As someone noted last week, simply setting up this project on the opposite side of the bridge would help out immensely; there is a very low volume of traffic entering from Clara Barton Pkwy. to go 495-South."

Honesly why can't they do that.

Posted by: Phill | May 22, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

1) VDOT ought to place electronic signs like they have at the south end of the HOV lanes on I-95. The first sign says "USE ENTIRE MERGE LANE" (in otherwords, don't stop at the beginning). Then the second one is near the end of the lane but not quite at the barrier and says "MERGE HERE, TAKE YOUR TURN". This implies that everyone should merge at the same place, and it should be a zippering alternating merge. I think this would make traffic flow more orderly, and would eliminate some of the backups because of people not taking their turn, behaving erratically, etc. VDOT and the National Park Service should be able to overrule Maryland SHA in this case since it's in Virginia on their roads.

2) Moving the staging area to the southbound side is a no-brainer in my opinion, but the powers that be probably don't want to lose time and/or spend extra money to move it. I strongly disagree with this, but thats most likely the official reason they will give.

3) Regarding whose fault this mess is: in a normal project, Maryland SHA drafts up plans for the project, including a traffic control plan, which is set in stone before the project is let (sent out to the public for bids). If this is a normal contract, the contractor had no say in the location of the staging area. Now there is another kind of contract called a design-build. With this kind of contract, the SHA would solicit bids for the "end result", and would lay out some ground rules regarding traffic control, timing, etc. The contractor would design everything else on their own and then begin working. If this project is a design-build, then there is a good chance that the SHA and contractor would share part of the blame. But even if it was a design-build, drivers should remember that the workers on the bridge are not the ones who designed the traffic control plan...so please don't harass the workers on the bridge!!

Dr. G, do you know if this project was a design-build?

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 22, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow..."I've Had It!!!"'s suggestion is scary. The contractors are not the ones making decisions. Please do not taunt and harass these folks who are just doing their jobs. it is the elected officials who sit in the plush offices scratching each others back that need to be bombarded with doses of reality to remind them who they serve: the people, not the campaign donors!!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 22, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Where is Dr. G this week anyways? We are still blogging about this American Legion Bridge debacle from his initial post from last Monday.

"When cars merge onto the beltway, the lane should never end until it becomes the exit lane for cars to merge off."

I disagree with this as well for many of the same reasons Rich notes. Continued merge/transition lanes from one exit to another just create a way for the Me-Firsts of Washington to move to the head of the line. On top of that, these lanes don't always work to improve traffic flow in general either.

The transition lane on the outer loop that carries traffic entering from the Dulles Toll Road to 495 South and then exits at the next exit (Route 123 South towards Tysons Corner) is an example of where this just doesn't work. This transition lane is somewhat of a bottleneck for traffic as traffice exiting to 123 South feels compelled to enter the lane as soon as possible, even though the lane extends for over 1/2 mile. Meanwhile traffic entering 495 from the Toll Road panics and merges too soon onto the through-lanes of 495.

"The spring !!!!!!! "

Where did you hear that this project was going to be set-up until spring?

"VERY few vehicles are using the lengthened acceleration lane from the GW to 495-North. This acceleration lane has been widened at least 400 feet from where it originally truncated. Yet most drivers merge left as soon as possible when entering from GW. It seems that the large, temporary "YIELD" sign could be moved further up (north) and then maybe drivers would have less of a tendency to panic (some of them) or merge as soon as they do."

I think there is an easy solution to this problem; I've witnessed the same panicky drivers trying to merge as soon as humanly possible into the right lane of 495 North. The solution: The large "Temporary" Yield sign that they erected as part of this constuction needs to be moved. With the lengthening of the acceleration lane, the YIELD sign (I think they took off the "No Merge Area" part of it) is placed too soon (too far south).

A tip for folks driving on 495 North: With the new electronic sign (reading "Merging Traffic Ahead, Move Left" - or something to that effect) just after the ramp that exits 495 to go south on the GW Parkway, the right lane (of the 4 beltway lanes) actually moves fastest when coming north from Georgetown Pike. That is until you get to a point near the GW Parkway overpass, then you want to move as far left as possible as safely and quickly as possible.


Posted by: xyv1027 | May 22, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Here is the contact info for one of the highway engineers at MD SHA. This is the person who responded with some sort of generic message to one of the messages I sent their way:

Bill Kucharek Area Engineer, District 3
Office 301-513-7336 Bkucharek@SHA.state.md.us

I'd encourage everyone on this blog and everyones friends/co-workers to contact this guy.

Posted by: xyv1027 | May 22, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think this project is going to last until next spring. Although this is the vague information I found on the MD SHA website:

American Legion Bridge Project
I-495, Inner loop, Southeast shoulder on the Virginia side of the American Legion Bridge will have a Permanent shoulder closure for cleaning and painting the bridge, Starting Monday night March 19, 2007 for 6-12 months

This better not take 12 months! Secondly, this notice is very misleading. As we all know, this is not a permanent shoulder closure but a permanent lane closure! They can't even get these details right. Yet we expect them to be able to successfully engineer a bridge cleaning project without crippling the region's already delicate transportation system?

Posted by: North Arlington resident | May 22, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, so far the merge "solution" has been useless. Is there anyway to hold anyone accountable for this mess? The time wasted and the fuel wasted is enormous. I suggest canceling the contract and starting again with traffic engineers that know how to plan and care about MD voters and taxpayers who have to endure this.

Posted by: MD-to-Ballston Driver | May 22, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"VDOT and the National Park Service should be able to overrule Maryland SHA in this case since it's in Virginia on their roads."

I haven't driven over that bridge in 2007, so I might be mistaken, but is the project ON the bridge itself? If so, that's not in Virginia, at least not once the bridge is past the mean high-water mark on the shoreline, as that point is the state line. The state line is not at the center of the river as it is in many other jurisdictions; this dates back to colonial times. Sounds like VDOT may have agreed to give them a staging area in Virginia, though.

Posted by: Rich | May 22, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Rich, the merge and the beginning of the staging area are both on dry-land on the Virginia side of the Potomac (I'm going to assume that Maryland SHA owns/maintains the entire structure). The staging area extends most of the way across the bridge from there, therefore straddling the state line. I can virtually guarantee that VDOT had to give permission for Maryland SHA to set up a workzone on their road, especially one of such a permanent nature (as opposed to cones which can be taken down overnight). Therefore, Virginia can't say that they didn't know Maryland was going to come in and do this, and I'm sure they very well could have said "no" when Maryland asked to have the staging area encrouch upon Virginia territory. Of course that opens a whole new can of worms about "why do you get to veto our plans when you aren't paying a dime for the project?"

Posted by: Woodley Park | May 22, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Just a question about merging.

Since a big part of the problem seems to be timid drivers who slow or even stop in order to merge at the start of the "acceleration" lane, why not a (big) sign for GW cars entering 495N:

"Keep Moving! Merge Without Stopping."

Posted by: Lee | May 22, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

"Just a question about merging.

"Since a big part of the problem seems to be timid drivers who slow or even stop in order to merge at the start of the 'acceleration' lane, why not a (big) sign for GW cars entering 495N:

"'Keep Moving! Merge Without Stopping.'"

That and a dollar will buy you a Powerball ticket. Signs won't help when it comes to people merging incorrectly.


"Woodley Park," thanks for the info. Your read sounds correct to me. Maryland couldn't set up on the Virginia side without cooperation. I assume the whole bridge is probably considered to be in Maryland given the location.

Posted by: Rich | May 23, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

It's been 9 days and not a bad thing with traffic has happened. There hasn't been any accidents blocking traffic anywhere. There hasn't been any delays from GW to the Legion Bridge. People on 66 and 495 aren't using the exit on-off ramps to skirt around traffic. Virginia State Police haven't been sitting on the side of the off ramp from Rte. 7 to the Outer Loop. Metro hasn't done anything out of the ordinary either! Must be a good 9 days in traffic reporting. Where's the good doctor? Have all the diseases of area roads been cured? If so, then I want him to work on cancer and AIDS next.

Posted by: Good News | May 23, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Give me 126 illegal aliens along with 2,463 cans of spray paint and I will have the bridge painted in one weekend!

Posted by: Bearman | May 23, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I travel up the GW Parkway to the American Legion Bridge every afternoon at rush hour. What I find frustrating are the mostly Maryland motorists who fly up left hand lane for miles, and then when they get close to the Maryland exit ramp they wedge into the right lane, or actually just stop in the left hand lane blocking that lane of traffic until someone lets them merge. For those that truly were not aware of the back-up reason I can understand the last minute merge. For those that are just impatient and think their time is more valuable than the time of others, then I'm sure they will get their dose of Karma.

Posted by: Edgar | June 1, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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