Real-time traffic cameras a possibility on George Washington Parkway

This is a WTOP file photo of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, commonly called the GW Parkway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Real-time traffic cameras help drivers know what traffic conditions are like before they start a trip — and are a tool that helps WTOP Traffic provide information drivers need.

While many major commuter routes in Virginia and across the D.C. region are equipped with traffic monitoring cameras, most roads maintained by the National Park Service, including the George Washington Parkway, Clara Barton Parkway, Suitland Parkway and Rock Creek Parkway, lack them.

WTOP has learned that an upcoming major rehabilitation of the George Washington Parkway’s northern section will lay the groundwork — literally — for live traffic cameras along a 7-mile stretch of the roadway running from the Capital Beltway to Spout Run. Ground was broken for the project on Monday.

“What this project will do is put us one step closer to that,” said Charles Cuvelier, G.W. Parkway superintendent. “We can move in that direction.”

Cuvelier said the project will place infrastructure that would house utility cables required to support traffic cameras along the route.

“Whenever we’re building a road in a park, we want to be sensitive to the original design, and adapt it for modern use,” said Cuvelier. “Some of the safety features we’re bringing in … stonewall and guardrail replacement — reflect that.”

The upcoming project, expected to begin this summer, is the first major rehabilitation project since the parkway was completed 60 years ago.

It includes replacing the asphalt pavement and roadway drainage system, redesigning portions of the Va. Route 123 interchange, repairing stormwater management systems, and lengthening entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges.

While a traffic-monitoring camera system would require additional funding, Cuvelier said the park service is open to the installation along the roadways of the scenic park, that includes trails along the Potomac River.

“We don’t envision heavy impact — lots of infrastructure, in terms of huge signs — that’s not what the parks and parkways are about, but yes, it is feasible, it is possible to do it in a sensitive kind of way,” Cuvelier said.

The George Washington Parkway carries about 70,000 drivers daily. The northern stretch is the busiest on the parkway, serving 26 million drivers annually.

The NPS and the Federal Highway Administration awarded the $161 million contract — one of the largest infrastructure investments funded by the 2020 Great American Outdoor Act — in December.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up