Weekend Road and Rail: Metro holiday hurdles, major roadwork on hold

It’s going to be a long holiday weekend travel-wise, which means most roadwork in the D.C. region will be suspended. There will be changes on Metrorail to facilitate travel downtown for Fourth of July festivities.



The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration suspended major lane closures for nonemergency roadwork on major roads and interstates from 5 a.m. Thursday, June 30, through 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 5. You can always check its website for real-time traffic information.

The busy summer travel season continues this weekend as families and friends gather to celebrate the Fourth of July. With heavy traffic anticipated on state highways, bridges and at BWI Airport, MDOT urges everyone to embrace the spirit of civic responsibility by traveling with safety, awareness and courtesy.

AAA Mid-Atlantic expects more than 977,460 Marylanders to travel this Fourth of July weekend. Despite gas prices, 90% of those travelers — nearly 880,000 — will hit the roadways, a slight increase over 2021.

Travelers should anticipate congestion beginning Thursday, June 30, along US-50 to Ocean City, Interstate 70 and Interstate 68 toward Western Maryland, and Interstate 95 north toward Delaware. Volumes are expected to be heavy Saturday, Sunday, Monday and even Tuesday, as travelers return home.

The Bay Bridge and the US-50 corridor are expected to be busy throughout the weekend. For those using the Bay Bridge, motorists are reminded to stay on US-50 on both sides of the bridge to keep local roadways open for first responders and residents. The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this holiday include:

  • Friday, July 1 — before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 2 — before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 3 — before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Monday, July 4 — before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 5 — before 6 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Weather- and traffic volume-permitting, the Maryland Transportation Authority will use two-way operations to help alleviate eastbound delays at the bridge. As a reminder, two-way operations are prohibited during bridge wind warnings and restrictions, fog, or times of precipitation. Learn more about two-way operations here.



Upcoming Roadwork

With most roadwork suspended, there is a new travel pattern expected on Interstate 66 as part of the Transform 66 Outside of the Beltway Project, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, July 5, if weather allows.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, on I-66 West the travel lanes at Nutley Street will shift to a new roadway configuration. The two right lanes will be temporarily separated from the two left lanes while construction continues — drivers will stay to the right to exit to the Vienna/Fairfax/GMU Metro station.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE: Map of the location of the planned traffic shift and closures. (Courtesy VDOT)

Travel lanes on I-66 West between Nutley Street and Vaden Drive will be shifted to a new, long-term configuration beginning the early morning hours on or about Wednesday, July 6.

When this traffic change is implemented, the two right travel lanes will be separated from the two left travel lanes by barrier. Drivers will be directed by signs and message boards to stay to the right at the lane split to exit to the Vienna/Fairfax/GMU Metro station (Country Creek Road and Virginia Center Boulevard).

This temporary traffic pattern will remain in place for approximately two months.

The ramps from Virginia Center Boulevard to I-66 West and from I-66 West to Vienna/Fairfax/GMU Metro station will reopen during the early morning hours on or about Wednesday, July 6, as part of the implementation of this traffic shift.

These ramps have been temporarily closed to allow construction to advance. Additionally, the future Express Lanes ramp from Vaden Drive to I-66 West that was temporarily opened as a detour route for buses only will be closed when this shift is implemented.

Metro

Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, Metro capacity will be less than on previous Fourth of July holidays. That means customers should be prepared for longer wait times, up to 60 minutes at times, and for crowding to occur, especially at the conclusion of the fireworks.

Metro Transit police may temporarily restrict entry to stations experiencing excessive crowding to prevent unsafe conditions on the platforms. Delay post-firework travel to Metro stations, if possible, to allow crowds to disperse. Planning your trip in advance is strongly encouraged.

Customers are encouraged to:

  • Select a destination station on the same line as your origin to avoid the need to transfer.
  • Delay return travel after the fireworks, if possible. Consider taking advantage of restaurants and other attractions downtown and at the Wharf to allow crowding to subside.
  • Consider utilizing a station other than Smithsonian, which typically sees the most crowding. The Mall side of Smithsonian will become ‘entry only’ after 9 p.m. to accommodate crowds.

Other convenient options include:

  • Foggy Bottom (may become ‘entry only’ after fireworks)
  • Metro Center
  • Federal Triangle
  • Archives
  • Gallery Place
  • Judiciary Square
  • Union Station
  • L’Enfant Plaza
  • Capitol South
  • Federal Center SW
  • Arlington Cemetery (open until 11 p.m.)

Avoid lines at fare vending machines by loading enough value for your entire round-trip in advance on your SmarTrip card.

SmarTrip mobile pay is your best option. Download the SmarTrip app for iOS or Android to buy a One-Day Pass for $13 or purchase a mobile SmarTrip card with enough round-trip value for you and all your travelers.

If possible, consider using Metrobus to get to and from downtown. Expect detours and delays due to road closures around the National Mall. For the latest information, visit wmata.com/service, sign up for MetroAlerts, and follow @metrobusinfo on Twitter.

Metro will operate on a normal weekend schedule, opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 1 a.m. Saturday and midnight Sunday and Monday. Trains will serve 86 of 91 stations with only normal weekend service levels during daytime hours.

On Independence Day, Monday, July 4, Metro will operate regular weekday service levels with supplemental service on the Red Line and additional trains positioned throughout the system for extra capacity as needed.

Customers are reminded that five stations on the Orange Line between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton are closed through Labor Day, Sept. 5, for the Platform Improvement Project, with additional weekend closures throughout the summer on the Silver and Blue lines between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road stations for aerial structure repairs.

The full weekend schedule with service adjustments can be found here.

Mary DePompa

WTOP Traffic Reporter, Mary de Pompa has a great understanding of the D.C.-area gridlock, being a third-generation Washingtonian. If you see more than she says, call Mary on the WTOP Traffic Hotline at 202-895-5048 or email her at mdepompa@wtop.com.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

 

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