Weekend Wakeup: Travelers, shoppers and light Metro work

WASHINGTON – Holiday delays have slowly crept up on unsuspecting commuters. Usually latent in the weeks following the Thanksgiving getaway, they tend to reemerge by mid-December.

Most road work put on hold

The roads carry more long distance travelers, shoppers and delivery trucks this time of year. The increase in commercial and discretionary travel leads to delays that are often less predictable.

Sitting in an unexpected delay is just one of the many stresses of the holiday season, so local highway departments have done what they can to minimize disruptions to traffic. During this busy travel weekend, most lane closures for long-term road projects have been suspended.

Work crews for the I-95 Express Lanes Project will block some lanes during the overnight hours along the 29-mile-long corridor, but will strive to have all lanes reopen by 7 a.m. each morning.

HOV open

The I-95/395 Express Lanes will be open to traffic this weekend. The lanes are expected to operate southbound until early Saturday afternoon. They are expected to serve northbound drivers by late Saturday afternoon and Sunday. This is subject to change.

Metro track work light-to-none

Metrorail customers can breathe a sigh of relief this weekend – most track work has been put on hold and nearly all trains will operate at regular intervals. Customers between Greenbelt and College Park can expect to ride a shuttle bus instead of the train on Saturday and Sunday. Riders using shuttle bus service should allow about 15 minutes of travel time.

Crash involving an overturned shopping cart

Expect the roads leading into shopping-center parking lots to be congested this weekend. Sometimes the “spill-back” out of the big retail complexes can affect the major roads nearby.

A queue of traffic that back-builds onto another road causes what highway engineers call an “arterial” delay — hazardous for through-travelers because it often appears suddenly and at high speeds. The delay can cause friction against through traffic and slow the adjacent highway’s traffic flow.

This phenomenon has been observed over the past week in Parole on Route 50 east at exit 23, Route 100 east at Arundel Mills Boulevard and in Frederick on Interstate 270 near exit 31 toward the Francis Scott Key Mall.

In Virginia, expect heavy traffic on Route 7 through Tysons Corner. At its worst, the delay toward Tysons Galleria on Route 7 can begin on the Beltway. Drivers on Interstate 95 near Potomac Mills will likely see some evidence of delays near the Opitz Boulevard and Dale Boulevard exits.

Terrible Redskins = Not-so-terrible traffic

On Sunday, the Redskins take on the Cowboys at FedEx Field at 1:00 p.m. Despite the team’s record, Redskins fans will likely begin heading to Landover early Sunday morning, if nothing else, to enjoy the mild tailgating weather. Expect delays on the Beltway before and especially after the game on Sunday afternoon.

Spray-delays possible

Scattered rain showers could affect drivers during the latter half of the weekend, especially Sunday afternoon.

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