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Drivers: New Pike Traffic Pattern is Causing Big Backups

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Wednesday - 2/12/2014, 4:55pm  ET

Photo courtesy Thierry Discoll Traffic backups on Columbia Pike Photo courtesy Thierry Discoll Traffic on Columbia Pike approaching Washington Blvd

Morning rush hour traffic on Columbia Pike has gone from bad to worse thanks to a new traffic pattern at the Washington Boulevard interchange, drivers tell us.

Two weeks ago VDOT, as part of its Route 27/244 interchange project, altered the traffic pattern for vehicles heading eastbound on Columbia Pike. Drivers heading toward northbound I-395 now have to turn left at the traffic signal on S. Quinn Street, whereas before northbound and southbound traffic could both take the right-hand ramp that also leads to southbound I-395.

Traffic pattern change at the Columbia Pike/Washington Boulevard interchangeLast week, one reader told us the new traffic pattern was a “disaster,” with eastbound Pike traffic backed up to S. Courthouse Road at 7:45 a.m. Today (Wednesday), another reader said that traffic was backed up to S. Walter Reed Drive at 8:15 a.m.

“That is absolutely ridiculous,” said Thierry Driscoll, a Pike commuter who now uses S. Courthouse Road as a shortcut to Washington Boulevard. “There are cars backed up in the left lane of Columbia Pike waiting to take a left onto the Washington Blvd access ramp, but cannot because the access ramp is full.”

“There is no excuse for such a boneheaded design,” he continued. “This new pattern has inconvenienced a lot of people.”

Map of the planned Washington Boulevard/Columbia Pike interchangeDriscoll said it takes 10-15 minutes to get from the start of the backups to Washington Blvd.

VDOT spokeswoman Jennifer McCord says the current traffic pattern is temporary and will be in place for another 8-12 months while new ramps are built.

“We realize it’s slower for drivers trying to get to I-395N since they have to yield to the oncoming traffic,” she said. “Our folks… added as much time as possible to the left-turn signal” to alleviate some of the traffic.

“No more significant changes” are planned, said McCord. She advised using S. Glebe Road as a possible alternate route to I-395 for those heading from western portions of Columbia Pike.