WASHINGTON — The scenic drive along the George Washington Parkway will likely be much slower by the end of the month.
A work zone for the rehabilitation of a nearly 60-year-old bridge at Windy Run between the Spout Run Parkway and Route 123 will reduce the width and number of lanes on the GW Parkway for about a month.
“People should start planning for this new traffic pattern to start later this month — later in July,” said Aaron LaRocca, with the National Park Service.
Of the three narrow lanes that will run through the work zone at all times, one will be reversible. During morning rush hours, two lanes will be open to southbound traffic. During afternoon rush hours, two northbound lanes will be available. The center lane will be reversed at noon and 8 p.m. On weekends, two lanes will be open southbound at all times.
During the reversal, U.S. Park Police plan to briefly stop all traffic.
Congestion is common during rush hours on the parkway, but delays could worsen once work begins. Data from the Virginia Department of Transportation show that traffic volumes on the GW Parkway have increased dramatically in the months following rush-hour tolling on Interstate 66.
The National Park Service said it timed the work to coincide with the time of the year when traffic volumes are lowest — in July and August.
A construction staging area has already been paved along the northbound lanes leading up to the bridge. LaRocca said additional modifications are coming soon.
“Over the course of the next few weeks, commuters on the parkway will be seeing preparation for the Windy Run roadwork. We have to remove the middle guardrail section of the parkway to accommodate the reversible lane.”
Single lane closures are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week as crews remove the concrete barrier that separates the northbound and southbound lanes. Additional lane closures are possible during off-peak hours over the next couple of weeks as the median strip on both sides of the bridge is paved and guardrails are removed.
The park service expects to have a clearer idea of exactly when the traffic shift will happen by the end of the week.
The work is part of a larger rehabilitation effort proposed for the eight-mile section of the GW Parkway between the Spout Run Parkway and the Capital Beltway — a project that thus far remains unfunded.