GW Parkway construction near entering next phase, which will shut down southbound lanes

The George Washington Parkway is in the process of getting some much-needed TLC. In order to rehabilitate the road, drivers will see lower speed limits, changing road configurations and even a reversible lane that would begin operating in just over a month.

“It will have a major impact on people’s commutes and use of the parkway, so if there’s a way you can alter your plans to avoid the area, that that’d be best,” Mark Maloy, with the National Park Service, said during a webinar on the project Wednesday night.

The goal is to do long-overdue work on the roadway’s infrastructure along the northern section of the parkway, from Interstate 495 to Spout Run Parkway.

“There are damaged sections of guardrail, deterioration of drainage infrastructure, and stone guard walls that line the park (that) all need attention,” said Charles Cuvelier, superintendent of the GW Parkway.

Once completed — the project is scheduled to wrap up in May 2026 — the Park Service said the roadway’s life span will be extended by 50 years.

One big change has already happened; the speed limit on the parkway between Spout Run and I-495 is now 40 miles per hour. Also, daily lane closures continue as a temporary lane is built on the northbound side of the road.

The temporary lane was originally expected to become a reversible lane for the project this winter, but now that will happen much sooner, with a projected start date of April 15. According to the National Park Service, the goal of the reversible lane is to allow for two-way traffic during the phase of the project when the entire southbound side is closed and redone.

Reversible Lane George Washington Memorial Parkway set to being operating April 15
Reversible Lane George Washington Memorial Parkway set to being operating April 15 (Courtesy National Park Service)

When the northbound side temporary lane is complete, planners said the middle lane will be the one that changes directions and that the middle lane will only be used during the morning rush and afternoon rush hours. That means the lane will only be used from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the southbound direction and from 2:45 to 7 p.m. in the northbound direction.

Reversible Lane George Washington Memorial Parkway set to being operating April 15 (Courtesy National Park Service.)

Another important note from those who presented during the webinar, anyone who intends to exit anywhere between Spout Run and I-495 would need to stay in the far right lane because the center lane will not have a break in it for the exits within the segment that is under construction.

Outside of those times, the reversible lane will be closed to all traffic except for emergency vehicles and construction vehicles.

The rebuilding of the southbound lanes of the parkway is expected to last into next year. Once the Southbound lanes are complete, the temporary lane on the northbound side will remain northbound, and one southbound lane will turn northbound daily during the afternoon rush hour.

As for the temporary lane on the northbound side, it won’t remain once the project is done.

“The efforts by the Design Build Team at the end of the project is to actually have the Parkway in a very similar configuration as it is today with two northbound lanes to southbound lanes with stone guard walls that you see the center median metal guardrail … with steel back timber so they have a more rustic wood,” Cuvelier said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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