WASHINGTON — Say goodbye to orange construction barrels and hello to a new travel lane.
A yearlong construction project on Interstate 495 northbound north of the Dulles Toll Road has created a lane that alternates between being a travel lane and a breakdown shoulder lane.
“It starts where the 495 Express Lanes end and it goes to about the George Washington Parkway,” says Virginia Department of Transportation Megaprojects spokeswoman Michelle Holland.
Overhead signs with red Xs and green arrows indicate when the lane is closed and open.
“It’s intended to get traffic flowing a little better and provide a safer merge area there (where the Express Lanes end) on I-495,” Holland says.
The new travel lane will be open to all traffic, not just vehicles merging off the Express Lanes. So when that new lane is active, a bottleneck merging five lanes to four may now happen a little closer to the American Legion Bridge than drivers have been accustomed to.
Drivers can use the new shoulder lane from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.
The $20 million project included upgrades to concrete barriers separating northbound and southbound traffic, and added new cameras and programmable electronic highway signs.
That stretch of the Beltway also now flows on completely new blacktop pavement.