Drivers still taken aback by lower speed limit on I-295

July 18, 2019

WTOP/Dave Dildine

A reduced speed limit for highway traffic near the Anacostia River bridges still has some drivers reeling.

With wall-to-wall roadwork taking place for years along Interstate 295 and D.C. Route 295, the District lowered the speed limit along a large section of the corridor to 40 mph last May.

New speed limit signs were installed, and reminders flash on overhead and roadside electronic signs from time to time.

Still, some drivers remain confused. Several listeners have contacted WTOP asking if the new speed limit applies, even in the absence of active roadwork or lane closures.

“The speed limit is set at 40 mph and that is 24 hours a day — rain, sleet, snow or shine,” said District Department of Transportation Deputy Director Everett Lott.

The reduced speed limit is in effect for a roughly 6 mile-long section of the corridor from Blue Plains and the Naval Research Lab exit on I-295, to near East Capitol Street on D.C. 295. There are five major projects in progress, including the reconstruction of the Malcolm X Avenue interchange.

“We’re really trying to slow speeds to protect the safety of everyone on the roadway, especially the work zone workers,” Lott said.

There are at least three speed enforcement cameras located within the work zones. In the District, fines are doubled for speeding in work zones. Some drivers have received $200 tickets in the mail within the last month.

DDOT said the lower speed limit will be in effect through late 2021.

This weekend, only one southbound lane is scheduled to get through a work zone on I-295 between Malcolm X Avenue and Blue Plains. South Capitol Street near the highway is expected to be blocked as well. Both work zones are scheduled to go into place around 8 p.m. on Friday and are scheduled to last through early Monday morning. The new Malcolm X Avenue interchange will feature new ramps, a service road and improved access to the adjacent government complex.

Editor’s Note: Several listeners wrote to WTOP after this article was published. To see their comments, visit our Cone Zone blog.

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