A perfect storm of traffic conditions caused morning backups in Fairlington and Shirlington near Interstate 395 earlier this week, but transportation officials hope the worst delays will be in the rear view mirror.
The erection of a long term work zone on the ramp from Quaker Lane and Shirlington Circle to northbound I-395 took drivers by surprise early Monday. Concrete jersey wall reduced the two-lane ramp to a single lane, forcing the four lane flow around the east side of Shirlington Circle into a single file toward the interstate.
The work zone is a part of the 395 Express Lanes construction and will offer crews space to work while a sound wall is constructed this summer, according to Transurban, the operator of the facility.
The morning delays were apparently compounded by a malfunctioning ramp meter. The Virginia Department of Transportation found that the signal at the bottom of the ramp was holding on red for more than 10 seconds during morning rush hour.
VDOT said that the problem has been fixed. As added insurance, an agency spokesperson said signal technicians will have a close eye on the light remotely and on site first thing tomorrow morning.
Shirlington Circle is a notoriously vexing interchange. Traffic pinwheels around the oval-shaped collection of ramps above I-395 with crashes and congestion routinely stalling drivers.
On Wednesday, June 12, VDOT will be hosting a presentation on alternatives identified by a study assessing safety and operational improvements at the Shirlington interchange. Residents are invited to stop by Drew Model Elementary School between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to view displays and learn more about the study.
VDOT plans to issue a report on a "preferred alternative" by this fall.
The 395 Express Lanes will open as an all-electronic E-ZPass facility this fall as well.