Cone Zone: Updates on D.C.-area work zones


Cone Zone: Updates on D.C.-area work zones Live

A peek at regional roadwork


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    Several projects, years of work ahead on I-95 near Fredericksburg

    Courtesy VDOT
    It's easy to spot all of the roadwork happening on I-95 in Stafford County. The median strip is clear-cut in Fredericksburg, mounds of dirt are piled near Courthouse Road and many stretches of the highway between the two locations are lined with jersey wall. 
    "On I-95 things are really heating up for us a little bit to the south," said Kelly Hannon with the Virginia Department of Transportation. 
    Construction of the Courthouse Road interchange is well underway. Although the new overpass won't be open until 2020, Hannon said most of the planned roadwork this spring will take place off the highway. Read more about the Courthouse Road project in this Cone Zone post.
    Farther south, work on the new southbound Rappahannock River Bridge may have a bigger impact on drivers in the weeks and months ahead. 
    "People will really start to see more lane closures both at night and during the day ... to build that southbound Rappahannock River crossing." Hannon said that the concurrent effort to build a northbound span and the extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Route 17 will overlap, creating a greater likelihood of off-peak closures. 
    The $132 million southbound project will build three new lanes over the Rappahannock River by the summer of 2022. Southbound traffic heading for Richmond will be separated from drivers who are exiting and entering local lanes at the Route 17 and Route 3 interchanges. Several of the ramps will be realigned and the pair of aging interstate bridges above Route 17 will be replaced. 
    A northbound bridge span will be built over the Rappahannock River later as part of a deal tied to the extension of the 95 Express Lanes.

    A sea change for traffic in Brandywine, Md. 

    A rendering of the Branch Avenue service road and roundabout in Brandywine, Md. (Courtesy MDOT SHA)
    Since 2016 drivers along Md. Route 5 have endured lane closures and detours but the big road project north of the U.S. 301 junction is in its final stages of construction.

    Have you seen the new overpass above Branch Avenue? They're calling it a "spine road" which sounds sinister but the Maryland Department of Transportation's intentions are pretty straightforward. 

    "We've already started putting the turning movements from Accokeek Road and Brandywine Road over top that [spine road] and that will span Md. 5 to take away that conflict point there ... so it's going to be more free flow," said Charlie Gischlar with MDOT SHA. 

    The convoluted at-grade intersections for Accokeek Road and Brandywine will be permanently eliminated soon. The traffic signals for Brandywine Road have already been deactivated. Over the next few weeks, crews will be carefully taking steps to retire the Accokeek Road intersection.
    Drivers should be prepared for a big traffic pattern change scheduled to go into effect by the second week of April when all east-west traffic will cross Branch Avenue by using the new overpass. 

    The bridge is distanced from the old pair interwoven intersections. A service road for the new overpass will parallel Route 5. A roundabout for traffic on Accokeek Road and the service road will be located on the west side of Branch Avenue. 

    A new park and ride will be opening north of the new bridge soon as well. The entire project is on track for completion this summer. 

    Route 4 and Suitland Parkway construction underway

    Excavation associated with the Route 4 and Suitland Parkway interchange project is ongoing. (Courtesy MDOT SHA)
    Have you ever sat in heavy traffic on the Beltway near Joint Base Andrews and Forestville only to find that the delay was caused by a backup on the ramp to Pennsylvania Avenue? The traffic signals at Westphalia Road and Suitland Parkway beyond that exit were the likely culprits. But an effort to keep traffic moving through that cloverleaf interchange on the Beltway is underway. 
    Last week, utility crews relocated power poles and a 36-inch waterline along Md. Route 4 (Pennsylvania Avenue) to carve out space for a new bridge. The often congested at-grade intersection for Suitland Parkway and Route 4 will be replaced with a new diamond interchange.
    Although the work to build the new overpass above Route 4 is only in the early phases of construction, the Maryland Department of Transportation hopes the improvements will relieve existing congestion, enhance safety, improve mobility and accommodate increasing traffic volumes. 
    A map shows how Route 4 will connect to the new bridge for Suitland and Presidential parkway. (Courtesy MDOT SHA)
    The right-of-way and wayside work is complex with the project's close proximity to Joint Base Andrews. The small bridge that carries Suitland Parkway over the air force base's access ramps is being widened as a part of the project. But the new design requires that a jet fuel line first be relocated. This excavation and other activities have required single lane closures and brief stoppages of traffic at the eastern end of Suitland Parkway over the past several months. 
    On Route 4, paving of temporary travel lanes is expected to begin by the end of the year. Northbound traffic will eventually be shifted onto the new pavement to accommodate the construction of the overpass. 
    The work on Route 4 is one of several projects nearby in addition to the bridge replacements and rehabilitation on and above the Beltway at Suitland Road, Suitland Parkway, Temple Hill Road and Central Avenue
    Drivers can get updates on roadwork in Maryland by checking out MDOT's interactive website.

    Jones Branch Connector over the Beltway

    The newest bridge over the Beltway spans Interstate 495 in Tysons. It's the Jones Branch Connector and although it's partially open to traffic, there's still plenty of work left to do. The connector connects Route 123 and Jones Branch Road. Only one lane is open in both directions for now.
    Over the past several weekends, the connector and the 495 Express Lanes have been closed. A portion of the bridge originally built during the express lanes construction is being demolished to make space for new beams that will accommodate the wider bridge deck over the Outer Loop.
    The impact of the closures on weekend traffic has been minimal.
    The wider overpass was designed with the rapidly growing suburb in mind.
    "It will end up being two lanes in each direction with on-street bike lanes, multi-use paths on ether side and a very wide median for future transit within Tysons," said Ellen Kamilakis, spokesperson for VDOT.
    The entire project is scheduled to be completed later this year.

    On Route 210, has the Kerby Hill Road project stalled?

    The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is assuring drivers that efforts to make Indian Head Highway safer are ongoing, despite a couple of unexpected setbacks. 
    An interchange project will eventually send Livingston Road and Kerby Hill Road above Indian Head Highway on a two-lane bridge. The traffic signal south of the Beltway at Wilson Bridge Drive will be eliminated. Three children were killed by a drunk driver at the intersection last December.
    For years, the stretch of Route 210 between the Beltway and Palmer Road has been flanked by a muddy wayside and slowly constructed sound walls. 
    "There was some delay there with some late design additions to that and also some utility relocations work that wasn't first identified but it's back on track again," said Charlie Gischlar with MDOT. The work to build the new overpass and the median exit ramps will start revving up in the coming months, Gischlar said. 
    Drivers will begin noticing more vertical infrastructure on the median where the ramps will eventually be located. When the new bridge opens, drivers will exit onto Kerby Hill Road from the left lanes of Indian Head Highway. 
    There will likely be some off-peak single lane closures during the middays but the overhead steel work for the overpass won't be happening until later this year.
    In the meantime, crews will be setting posts for the southbound sound wall and will be regrading the earth on the northbound side for the next couple of weeks. 

    Courthouse Road overpass at I-95

    An aerial view of the I-95 Courthouse Road Project. (Courtesy VDOT)
    The new overpass for Courthouse Road above Interstate 95 in Stafford County is taking shape but it won't be open until the summer of 2020. The Virginia Department of Transportation says that with most of the heavy duty overhead work completed above I-95, highway lane closures won't be as common. 
    "People really should see most lanes open on I-95 near exit 140 itself, near the interchange, because a lot of our work right now is happening along Courthouse Road," said VDOT spokesperson Kelly Hannon. 
    "We will see pretty heavy construction traffic, trucks bringing a lot of dirt, to help us raise the new elevation of the new Courthouse Road," Hannon added. The old narrow underpass will be replaced with a wider overpass. 
    The new interchange will have a new geometry. Much like Route 15 above Interstate 66 in Haymarket, the eastbound and westbound lanes of Courthouse Road will zigzag above the highway when the new overpass opens in 2020. Drivers will pass to the left of each other in a "diverging diamond" pattern to eliminate left turn conflicts and promote the flow of traffic. The new road will be shifted south of its current alignment and will intersect with Route 1 near Hospital Center Boulevard. 

    Watkins Mill Road project at I-270

    Exit 12 doesn’t exist on Interstate 270 yet, but that’s expected to change in the coming years.
    The drive between Gaithersburg and Germantown on I-270 has changed dramatically over the last several months. A large bridge is taking shape above the northbound and southbound lanes and a few of the muddy paths along the edges of the highway outline future off-ramps. 
    Despite the wet and icy winter weather, crews successfully welded the steel framework for an overpass that will eventually carry Watkins Mill Road above I-270.
    "We put 80 girders up for this new interchange at I-270 at Watkins Mill Road so that was a monumental accomplishment by our crews and our contracting crews," said Charlie Gischlar, spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. The work began in early February. 
    The setting of the structural steel necessitated temporary stoppages of overnight traffic between the Montgomery Village Avenue and Middlebrook Road exits but Gischlar said, with the overhead work largely completed, late night traffic holds will not occur very often throughout the rest of the project.
    The lane closures often set up around 8 p.m. which can lead to congestion during busier, later rush hours. 
    "There will still be some lane closures overnight as we fill the deck pans up with the bridge deck which will be the new driving surface but it won't be nearly as impactful for overnight travelers," Gischlar said. The lane single and double lane closures for the deck pan installation and other assorted work will take place overnights for several months. 
    When it opens by early next fall, MDOT SHA hopes the four-lane overpass and the diamond-shaped interchange will enhance economic opportunities for middle and northern Montgomery County and lessen backups on nearby roads like Route 124 and Route 355 by giving drivers more options.
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