WASHINGTON — Drivers who use Connecticut Avenue from East-West Highway to the District line should consider alternatives, including Wisconsin Avenue, for the rest of the week as crews make emergency road repairs.
All lanes of southbound Connecticut Avenue are open on rough pavement between East-West Highway and Chevy Chase Circle Thursday morning.
In the northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue from Chevy Chase Circle, traffic is getting by in one lane to the far left in the area of Bradley Boulevard and East-West Highway.
Two northbound lanes will be closed Thursday during the afternoon rush hours. Two southbound lanes are expected to be closed during Friday morning’s commute.
Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Dave Buck says all road repairs should be completed before Saturday morning.
Buck says the emergency road repairs come because of damaged asphalt on Connecticut Avenue. Because of the advanced state of deterioration, a stronger, more fibrous mix of asphalt is needed to offset the deterioration, the SHA says.
“What happened was when we have any paving job, we mill off the top two inches of asphalt. The road underneath was so severely damaged that we had to get a different asphalt mix and we had to scramble at the last minute to get some things approved and that pushed us into this situation where we’re paving 24 hours a day,” he said on WTOP Thursday.
Crews are expected to complete emergency pavement repairs along northbound Connecticut Avenue late Thursday. They will then start on paving the southbound lanes Thursday night or early Friday, according to a news release.
Buck says he wishes the repairs could have been delayed to avoid added congestion as many people hit the road for the busy travel and holiday weekend — but it was a situation where crews couldn’t wait.
“The base, the underneath part, was crumbling and it would have been in such terrible condition over the holiday that we had to start this 24/7 operation,” he says.
The repairs have already had some major traffic implications.
The closure of two northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue created headaches and delays for drivers in D.C. and Maryland Wednesday morning. A repaving project north of Chevy Chase Circle also caused a portion of the circle to be closed. The closure cut off access to roadways west of the circle from roads east of the circle.
That backed up traffic significantly on westbound Western Avenue and Brookville Road in Maryland, which is a popular route south to D.C. from East-West Highway.
Traffic also backed up into D.C. on northbound Connecticut Avenue because of the volume of rush hour traffic forced to merge into one lane northbound at the circle.
Crews kept lanes closed past 5 a.m. at Chevy Chase Circle. The circle reopened 3 1/2 hours later.
“We certainly didn’t intend to have any [lanes] closed during rush hour,” Buck told WTOP.
Could this happen again?
Buck says this type of damage is “very unusual” and out of 10,000 road paving projects, it may only happen once.
“It’s extremely rare for us to have this type of condition underneath the bottom four inches, if you will, the base.”
Drivers shouldn’t expect to see many more delays like on region’s roads for some time, Buck says.
There could be more trouble for Connecticut Avenue down the road, he says. A more in-depth reconstruction of the road could be required in about a decade.
More than 46,000 vehicles use this 1.5-mile stretch of roadway every day.
The contractor on the project, Fort Meyer Construction Co. of D.C., started the $2.5 million safety and resurfacing project in summer 2013.
The entire project isn’t expected to be completed until October.