Use Caution at Beltway Interchange
For many drivers used to taking the exit from the Beltway's outer loop onto University Boulevard in Montgomery County, the new traffic pattern will come as a complete surprise.
The new ramp from the Capital Beltway outer loop to University Boulevard (Exit 29) is completely operational now, including the traffic light at the top of the ramp that controls traffic heading east and west on University. I drove it three times this morning, and it seemed to work fine. On the ramp, two lanes go east and two go west.
But if you're used to the old traffic pattern at that Silver Spring interchange, which involved an Exit A and an Exit B, then watch out: The second ramp, the Exit B that used to take drivers east toward Langley Park and College Park, is now closed. This eliminates a weaving merge, which is great.
The problem is, many drivers won't know that ramp is closed until they're right on top of it and see orange barrels and concrete barriers blocking the former exit.
This is dangerous. Many of these drivers will do what they normally do: Watch over their right shoulders for cars coming down the ramp from University onto the Beltway. Some will move into the merge lane when they have a clear space only to discover that they have to swerve back out onto the Beltway to avoid the new barrier.
The Maryland State Highway Administration, which is in charge of the project, should put up a very visible warning that the second ramp is closed. The A and B markings for Exit 29 are gone, but that's not enough. The only warning sign I spotted there was a detour sign for 193 west. I don't understand why that's needed. You can get to 193 west just fine from the newly constructed ramp. The detour takes you down to Georgia Avenue and brings you round to the inner loop. Why?
By the way, be careful taking that outer loop ramp to Georgia Avenue southbound. The new light that stops southbound traffic to let vehicles exit from the inner loop ramp can create a traffic backup that seemed to surprise some drivers as they made the left turn from the outer loop ramp to pass under the Beltway. Some folks had to stop really hard.
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