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

  • Dozens of 'spot improvements' coming to I-270

    Posted by WTOP/Dave Dildine
    June 10, 2019
    The recurring work zones and lane closures in Montgomery and Frederick counties are not related to Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to create a public-private partnership to widen I-270 and the Capital Beltway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
     
    We've received several questions regarding the active construction on Interstate 270 recently.
     
    A separate initiative to improve traffic flow on I-270 is well underway.
     
    Nicknamed the "Innovative Congestion Relief" project, a slew of spot infrastructure upgrades were funded in 2016 with construction beginning a short time later.
     
    The construction involves more than a dozen work sites for alterations that include extended acceleration lanes, reconfigured exit ramps, elimination of lane drops through added auxiliary lanes and an extension of the local lanes beyond Maryland Route 124 through the new Watkins Mill Road interchange.
     
    Each of the work zones associated with the project come with their own start and completion dates.
     
    One of the first orders of business was the elimination of the left lane drop off the southbound I-270 Spur onto the Outer Loop of the Beltway. That portion of the project was completed more than a year ago. 
     
    Newly extended southbound acceleration lanes from Maryland routes 80 in Urbana and 109 in Hyattstown were unveiled last month. A new auxiliary lane between Falls Road and Maryland Route 28 is also in the works.
     
    MDOT will also begin to implement a significant component of the overall project by mid-summer, when ramp meters will be installed on all of the southbound ramps from Frederick to Rockville. These ramp signals are intended to evenly distribute drivers as they merge onto the local lanes to balance the traffic flow. They are all expected to be operational by late 2020.
     
    Several other elements of the project are just now getting off the ground with completion dates this year or next. The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration says the project as a whole is currently 33 percent completed, with all work expected to be finished by winter 2020.
     
    Deborah from Gaithersburg writes:
     
    "What is the long term work that is being done between exits 9 and 11 on I-270? At times during the day they are blocking the left local lane, the merge lane from local to express and the right express lane."
     
    A portion of the project will reconfigure the exit ramp from northbound Shady Grove Road onto the northbound local lanes of the highway to reduce the weaving that slows traffic during weekday afternoons.
     
    In addition to the elimination of the loop ramp within this old-fashioned "parclo" interchange, the slip ramp from the local lanes into the main lanes of I-270 between Shady Grove Road and I-370 will be removed. The slip ramps toward the exit ramps will remain unchanged.
     
    The State Highway Administration tells us this element is still in the design phase.
     
    Andrew from Rockville writes:
     
    "MDOT has been working on an extended lane from Democracy Blvd up the merge between I-270 and I-270 Spur. It is all paved, any idea when it will actually be open? The jersey barriers have been in place for weeks and no construction is going on."
     
    Using space once dedicated to shoulders, the northbound lanes were shifted more than a year ago on the I-270 Spur from Democracy Boulevard toward Montrose Road. More recently, the southbound lanes were shifted beyond the "Lane Divide" as well.
     
    Milling and paving has been taking place during the overnight hours. A MDOT spokesperson tell us this work, along with new striping, is expected to be completed "in a few weeks." With more than half a dozen general purpose and carpool lanes merging before the local lane configuration, precision is paramount as far as the Highway Administration is concerned.
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