WASHINGTON – The part of Beach Drive that has been closed for nearly a year is due to reopen in just over a week, but that doesn’t mean commuters itching to cut through Rock Creek Park to Montgomery County will be able to jump right back in.
The National Park Service plans to reopen Beach Drive on Monday, Aug. 28, from Rock Creek Parkway to Tilden Street and Park Road just past Porter Street Northwest, weather permitting.
But as that happens, construction will shift north, closing Beach Drive from Tilden Street to Joyce Road, just south of Military Road Northwest.
The Park Service is urging drivers to test their alternatives over the next week, before traffic shifts.
The new construction zone is due to reopen in two parts. The short 0.34-mile stretch between Tilden Street/Park Road and Broad Branch Road is scheduled to be closed for around four to six months, while the remaining 1.59-mile stretch to Joyce Road is due to remain closed into fall 2018.
When that work zone ends, the final stretch of this project will begin.
That will shut down the 2.7 miles of Beach Drive between Joyce Road and the Maryland-D.C. line for about a year — from fall 2018 into fall 2019.
Traffic effects; new bike and jogging routes
When the current closure is lifted, rush-hour traffic backups may ease a bit along Rock Creek Parkway approaching the Woodley Park area, and there could be slightly less traffic on Cathedral Avenue Northwest and on Connecticut Avenue between Woodley Park and Cleveland Park.
The new shutdown could continue to lead drivers to use parts of Connecticut Avenue or 16th Street Northwest as alternatives though beyond the new work zone.
The National Park Service is also closing two parallel routes to Beach Drive to all vehicle traffic between Military Road and Broad Branch Road to provide an alternative.
Ross Drive and Ridge Road will be open only to people on foot or on bikes for the next four to six months, until work shifts again.
Even though the two roads are somewhat hilly and winding, the Park Service said the roads would provide a good detour for people walking and biking.
The roads will also be available car-free on weekends, similar to what park visitors are used to on parts of Beach Drive.
Block party highlights progress
The Park Service is hosting a party Sunday, Aug. 20, to let people walk and bike on the newly repaved first section of Beach Drive.
From 1 to 4 p.m., visitors can see the new roadway, repaved trail, widened sidewalks and a new stairway and crosswalk leading into the National Zoo.
The event is scheduled to begin at the zoo entrance on Beach Drive near Harvard Street Northest. In the event of rain, it will be held in the Zoo Tunnel.
Limited parking for the event will be available in the zoo’s Lot E.