One of DC region’s worst traffic merges off the Beltway gets a new look

Editor’s note: As of March 19, 2018, the Maryland State Highway Administration says it is waiting for a utility company to provide energy to the system. Paving is scheduled to begin in April and the agency estimates the entire project will be completed by the end of spring.

WASHINGTON — A tricky merge from the Capital Beltway is getting a makeover, and a new traffic pattern is set to go into place later this week.

The off-ramp from the Inner Loop onto southbound New Hampshire Avenue is gaining a new traffic signal this week. The current merge, governed by a yield sign, is a focal point for crashes and congestion. It was highlighted as one of WTOP’s worst merges in the D.C. area in 2015.

“What we’re going to do to help improve the capacity, and of course safety, at that interchange is to put a traffic signal at the bottom of that ramp. That will help guide the ramp traffic safely onto Md. [Route] 650,” said Charlie Gischar, spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The ramp will be closed overnights this week from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. as the new traffic pattern and traffic lights are put into place. Gischlar said that the work that necessitates the closure of the ramp could wrap up as soon as Wednesday.

“It was a yield condition for all those years. What was happening was that traffic backing up on that ramp for people trying to yield onto Md. 650 southbound in the mornings. Peak-time traffic is the big challenge here and that’s why the signal is really going to help out,” Gischlar said.

In addition to the implementation of the new signal, the $600,000 project also aims to widen the ramp, reconstruct the nearby sidewalks to comply with the Americans With Disability Act, and improve storm water drainage. Construction began last summer.

Highway administration traffic counts show that roughly 78,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily.

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Dave Dildine

A native to the Washington area, Dave Dildine is no stranger to the region's complex traffic and weather patterns. Dave joined WTOP in 2010 when the station launched its very own in-house traffic service. You can hear him "on the 8s and when it breaks" from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

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