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First day of Memorial Bridge closures ‘going pretty well’

A new traffic pattern is in effect on Arlington Memorial Bridge on Oct. 15, 2018. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

WASHINGTON — The first few hours featuring major new closures on the Arlington Memorial Bridge went “pretty well,” according to the National Park Service.

There were no major problems during the Monday morning rush as the number of lanes available on the bridge was cut in half.



Closures will be in place for about two years due to a long-term rehabilitation project.

“Drivers are paying attention and figuring out which lanes are open,” said Park Service spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles. “There are barrels directing cars into lanes as well.”

The bridge, which carries an estimated 68,000 vehicles each day, now has three lanes instead of six.

During weekdays, one lane heads into the District, one goes into Virginia and the other lane is reversible.

The reversible lane runs into D.C. from 4 a.m. through noon and into Virginia from noon through the overnight hours.

During weekends and federal government holidays, two lanes always run into D.C. and one always runs toward Virginia.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are urged to be extra careful, and drivers are told to watch overhead signals so they know which lanes are open for travel in their direction.

“We do expect to see some heavier traffic and longer delays,” said Anzelmo-Sarles, warning that surrounding roadways could see overflow as commuters who would typically use the bridge choose different routes.

Traffic engineers will be watching the situation in the coming days and weeks ahead.

“It’s hard to know exactly where that traffic will back up,” Anzelmo-Sarles said. “We’re going to monitor and see if we need to adjust to improve traffic flow.”

The $227 million bridge project is expected to be finished in 2021.

Over the past seven years, crews have made emergency repairs while planning the larger rehabilitation.

Without the project, the bridge’s deterioration would have required it to close by 2021, according to the park service.

 


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