Graduations to cause weekend traffic delays

First lady Michelle Obama receives her honarary degree from Bowie State University President Mickey Burnim during the university\'s graduation ceremony at the Comcast Center Friday, May 17, 2013 in College Park. Obama addressed the 600 graduates of Maryland\'s oldest historically black university and one of the ten oldest in the country. The University of Maryland will hold its own commencement ceremony Sunday. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/)

WASHINGTON – Regular weekend drivers on Interstate 95 will begin to notice heavier traffic in the weekends ahead. Summer vacation is fast approaching and so too are summer-like delays on the highway between the Washington suburbs and beach destinations.

In addition to road work and beach traffic, area universities will hold commencement ceremonies this weekend adding to the weekend traffic volume and track work will cause delays for Metro riders.

Don’t expect to avoid the daytime delays on I-95 by traveling overnight. Overlapping construction projects in Virginia will slow drivers even during off-peak hours.

The I-95 Shoulder Improvement Project will narrow traffic down to one lane on Friday and Saturday nights in Prince William County. Crews are scheduled to block two right lanes on the southbound side between the truck rest area and Dumfries. They will also erect a northbound work zone between Potomac Mills and the Prince William Parkway. This work will take place between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. Delays will be most intense in the hour or two after the work zone sets up.

The project, with a price tag of $40 million, seeks to improve the shoulders and merge areas along a seven-mile stretch of I-95 through Prince William County.

The shoulder work on the right side will coincide with the 95 Express Lanes Extension Project in the center of the highway.

The HOV lanes will be closed on Interstate 395 and I-95 from Washington D.C. to Dumfries, Va., at 11 p.m. Friday. The lanes will reopen to southbound travel around 10 a.m. Saturday. The northern end of the HOV lanes on I-395 will be closed through the day. The entire highway will reopen to northbound travel around 10 a.m. Sunday.

The orientation of the HOV lanes on Saturday will put a strain on northbound traffic in the main lanes, which will likely be congested from Stafford County to Springfield.

When completed in 2015, the project will manage congestion by adding capacity to the highway and extending the length of the express lanes into northern Stafford County.

River Crossings

There are also a few projects scheduled on or near the city’s Potomac and Anacostia river crossings this weekend.

From the outbound Roosevelt Bridge lanes, the ramp to the George Washington Parkway northbound will be closed for repairs on Saturday and Sunday. The work will occur between 4 a.m. through late afternoon both days.

DDOT will block the ramp from inbound Pennsylvania Avenue to southbound D.C. Route 295 through the weekend. All traffic that bypasses the exit to northbound Route 295/Kenilworth Avenue will continue inbound across the Sousa Bridge toward Barney Circle. The closure for repair work is scheduled to last until 5 a.m Monday morning.

The Frederick Douglass Bridge’s swing span will be tested this weekend. The routine testing is scheduled to occur on Sunday between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Normally the monthly test does not cause a major disruption. However, last month, a power outage during routine bridge testing caused the swing span to get stuck in the open position for several hours longer than intended.

Maine Avenue’s eastbound lanes will be closed near the Southeast Freeway between the Tidal Basin and the Case Bridge for repaving. The lanes heading away from Independence Avenue will be blocked beginning around 9 p.m. Friday and will remain closed through Sunday morning.

Metrorail Track Work

Riders on the Blue and Yellow lines will enjoy a reprieve from track work this weekend. However, customers using other sections of the Metrorail system will face delays and detours. Weekend work will close five stations: two on the Orange Line and three on the Green Line. Trains will single-track on two segments of the Red Line through the city.

Orange Line

  • Buses replace trains between East Falls Church and Clarendon
  • Ballston and Virginia Square stations will be closed
  • Trains will operate at regular weekend intervals outside the work zone

Red Line

  • Trains will single track between Van Ness and Dupont Circle
  • Trains will single track between Rhode Island Avenue and Takoma
  • Trains will operate at 10-minute to 24-minute intervals

Green Line

  • Buses will replace Green Line trains between Greenbelt and West Hyattsville
  • Greenbelt, College Park and Prince George’s Plaza stations will be closed
  • Trains will operate at regular weekend intervals outside the work zone

Graduations

Many of the region’s biggest schools will celebrate commencement ceremonies this weekend.

The 46th annual George Mason University commencement begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, at the Patriot Center. Expect delays on Route 123 and along Braddock Road before and after the ceremony.

A recent construction project at this intersection has sought to improve the traffic flow to and from university parking lots. Backups are common along Braddock Road between Shirley Gate Road and Roberts Road during the school year and before events at the Patriot Center.

Georgetown University will host parents and graduates for its ceremonies on the Healy Lawn beginning at 9:00 a.m. Expect early delays across the Key Bridge and throughout Georgetown.

George Washington University will conduct its ceremony at 9:30 a.m., Sunday. The ceremony will conclude at 11:30 a.m. Shuttle buses will ferry most attendees to and from the campus but heavier traffic will be possible between the National Mall and the West End before and after the event.

The University of Maryland commencement will take place about 1 p.m., Sunday at the Comcast Center. Doors open at 11 a.m. Delays are likely on U.S. Route 1 through College Park and on the Beltway between College Park and Greenbelt before and after the ceremony.

The College Park Metro station will be closed this weekend.

Taste of Arlington

Taste of Arlington is this Sunday in Ballston. Foodies, musicians and street performers will come together between noon and 5 p.m. near the Ballston Common Mall.

A small stretch of Wilson Boulevard will be blocked for the event between Randolph Street and Glebe Road. The primary routes through Ballston including Fairfax Drive, Washington Boulevard and Glebe Road will remain open. Drivers should stay alert near crosswalks for pedestrians.

The Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations will be closed this weekend for track work. WMATA will provide shuttle bus service to the Ballston station on Sunday during the festival.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when the University of Maryland will hold its graduation ceremony. Commencement is Sunday.

Follow Dave Dildine and @WTOPtraffic on Twitter.


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