Cone Zone: Lower speed limit on I-295 in effect with or without lane closures
Posted by WTOP/Dave Dildine
July 19, 2019
The 40 mile per hour speed limit is in effect for a roughly six mile long section of the corridor from near East Capitol Street on D.C. Route 295 to Blue Plains and the Naval Research Lab exit on Interstate 295. There are five major projects in progress along the corridor, including the reconstruction the Malcolm X Avenue interchange
The lower speed limit for highway traffic along I-295 and D.C. 295 still has some drivers reeling. Many do not realize the rules apply 24 hours a day. Others claim that the posted signage is inadequate.
"I quickly accelerated to about 50 mph to match the flow of traffic and safely execute a maneuver to the left so as not to be forced onto I-695. Upon completion of the maneuver, I noticed a flash in my rear-view mirror," wrote one driver.
Justin, the driver, merged onto the southbound lanes of Route 295 from Pennsylvania Avenue and the Sousa Bridge. The merge onto D.C. 295 can be tricky for those who wish to continue straight ahead onto I-295 since they have less than 1,500 feet to shift over to the left before the ramp that leads onto the inbound 11th Street Bridge.
"I am obviously aware of speed cameras throughout the District, but I believed I was travelling at or near the speed limit," he wrote, noting a difficult-to-spot speed limit sign partially obscured by a portable message sign in front of it.
"The split-second [the sign] may be in a motorist's line-of-sight, it is easily missed by a driver checking his/her rear-view mirrors to safely merge onto the highway," he wrote.
The well-being of work crews is one of the District Department of Transportation's top priorities. In early 2014, a worker was killed on the Suitland Parkway just east of I-295. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show that a death occurs near a D.C. work zone about once every other year.
"We're really trying to slow speeds to protect the safety of everyone on the roadway, especially the work zone workers," DDOT's deputy director Everett Lott said yesterday.
Several listeners continue to be taken aback by the lower speed limit, even in the absence of active roadwork, crews and lane closures.
"I got a $300 ticket for 57 mph on a Saturday ... I thought the zone was during construction hours," wrote J.J. Perry.
In the District, fines are doubled in work zones and are more costly for speeds in excess of 15 miles per hour over the limit.
Prior to the new speed limit going in effect, a 57 mile per hour headway would not likely have triggered the automated speed enforcement device.
Since the inception of automated traffic enforcement in the District, some drivers have claimed that speed limits are artificially low
in certain areas where the cameras are placed. This is especially the case on K Street NW under Washington Circle.
There are at least three speed enforcement cameras located near the work zones on I-295 and D.C. 295.
DDOT said the lower speed limit will be in effect through late 2021.