Reagan National construction traffic disruptions to start in January

WASHINGTON – Major traffic backups at Reagan National Airport are expected to begin shortly after New Year’s Day, as construction picks up on an overhaul of airport security.

In the most detailed timeline yet for the project, which will build new security checkpoints above the already-congested roadway between the Metro and Terminal B/C, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board documents show the “significant impact” to traffic is expected to stretch from January 2018 through July 2019.

The Airports Authority plans to encourage travelers to use Metro to reach the airport, and says those who drive should leave lots of extra time, and use the public parking areas to avoid driving through the most congested part of the airport.

The delays are due to begin after this holiday travel season, although some limited overnight lane closures for survey work are already starting. The longest traffic delays are expected in the afternoons and late evenings, when there tends to be the most traffic.

During the first of 19 months of the most significant roadway disruptions, three new crossovers will be available between the lanes closest to baggage claim and the public pickup and drop-off lanes closer to the Metro tracksm to provide a way around any work. Two temporary additional lanes will aim to smooth traffic flow at either end of the terminal.

Major construction on the roadway level is expected to be limited to overnight hours between midnight and 9 a.m., but construction overhead may still require lane closures. The contractor has already begun to mobilize and set up equipment staging areas.

After summer 2019, remaining construction work is expected to be mainly inside the new security area, so there will be fewer traffic disruptions.

In addition to the new $245 million security checkpoint scheduled to open in early 2021, the airport is also building a new commuter concourse to replace the shuttle buses of Gate 35X.

Designs for the new concourse have been completed, along with key demolition and some tarmac shifts. Construction on the concourse is scheduled to begin around February. The 14 new gates are due to open in the summer of 2021.

The commuter concourse itself is estimated to cost $360 million, in addition to $163 million in related demolition, relocation and other improvement work.

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