Sunday, March 19, 2006

I-95 Bridge Update

The Washington Times reports on the construction to replace the Eastern Seaboard's greatest bottlenecki:

The first part of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge will open to traffic in less than three months, project officials said.

Motorists on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway will be the first to use the span in early or mid-June. Five or six weeks later, the Inner Loop will switch to the new crossing.


The overall $2.4 billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project is more than 50 percent complete. The second bridge is scheduled to open in summer 2008...

The entire 7.5-mile project is scheduled to be finished in 2011.

When traffic is rerouted to the new bridge on two weekends, the Beltway will be reduced to one lane in the direction of the switch and certain ramps at Route 1, I-295 and Route 210 will be closed, project officials said.

The bridge will carry both Inner and Outer Loop traffic for the next two years until the second bridge is completed.

The new bridge is well overdue:

Completed in the early 1960s, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge initially was designed to carry 75,000 vehicles a day for 20 years. Today, the bridge carries almost 200,000 vehicles a day. Improvements have been under construction since the late 1980s.

The eight-lane Beltway narrows into the six-lane bridge, creating one of the worst bottlenecks in the country.

Significant traffic improvement won't happen until the second bridge is completed:

The project ultimately will provide 12 lanes: eight for traffic, two for merging onto the interchanges and two others for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, express buses or Metro transit rails.

A study will determine the use of these final two lanes, said Valerie Burnette Edgar, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

A Metro line might be useful given the current spider-shape of the system that discourages use between the outer stations, but I don't know how many people would actually use it.

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