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Shoulder lane to open, relieve Beltway congestion

WASHINGTON — Next Tuesday, a new left shoulder lane will open up on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway from the end of the 495 Express Lanes to the George Washington Parkway.

“That left shoulder will become a lane that will be used mornings from 7 to 11 a.m. and in the afternoons from 2 to 8 p.m.,” says Virginia Department of Transportation Megaprojects Spokeswoman Michelle Holland of the 1.5-mile lane.

Drivers may be familiar with the look of the new shoulder lanes. Like on Interstate 66, there will be overhead signs with a green arrow and red “X” letting drivers know when the lanes are open and closed.

“That area where the 495 Express Lanes merge back together with the regular Capital Beltway to the GW Parkway is one of the most congested stretches of the highway and our goal is this could bring a little bit of relief to motorists,” says Holland.

Leading up to the shoulder’s opening next week, crews will finish installing new overhead signs to alert drivers to the new traffic pattern. Also, crews will finish hooking up cameras that will be routed to VDOT headquarters in Fairfax so engineers can monitor real-time conditions on the roadway.

The project cost $20 million and took about one year to complete.

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