New bus loop, sluglines at Pentagon could help ease 395 backups

The conversion of the Interstate 395 HOV lanes to toll lanes near the Pentagon was one of three projects that took steps forward Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)(ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jacquelyn Martin)
Major traffic changes at the Pentagon starting Thursday morning could ease some backups along Interstate 395 and South Eads Street.

A new bus loop, slugging area and redone parking lot will open Thursday at the southeast corner of the Pentagon near Eads Street, the Pentagon Transit Center and Metro station.

“This is one of the busiest areas of the Pentagon,” said Sajeel Ahmed, acting director of administration and organizational policy in the Office of the Chief Management Officer.

“Any hiccups over here causes all kinds of issues not just on the Pentagon Reservation, but it could be backing up traffic on 395 and other places. And we have seen some of that before.”

Ahmed is hopeful that the bus loop, safety improvements for sluggers, signage upgrades and other changes can mitigate the traffic. About 1,800 buses each day pass through the area, and thousands more people drive or slug there.

The major shift in traffic patterns marks the completion of this piece of the I-395 toll lane project that is converting the HOV lanes to an extension of the 95 Express Lanes, fixing bridges along I-395 and doing some widening work.

Transurban’s 395 Express Lanes Project Director Kevin Ginnerty described the completion of the lot as a major milestone ahead of additional construction closures planned this summer.

“There are many complicated traffic changes as part of the 395 project beginning very soon,” Ginnerty said.

Traffic could be worse starting next week, as Metro closes all six Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Reagan National Airport through Sept. 8.

I-395 construction is set to continue into the fall, with tolling and 24/7 rule enforcement starting around late October.

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