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More changes coming along the Express Lanes project

Wednesday - 2/22/2012, 7:49am  ET

Express Lanes graphic (VDOT)
The new traffic pattern, seen in orange, will eliminate the loop ramp to make room for the I-495 Express Lanes ramp, VDOT says. The traffic signal seen in the graphic on Route 7 will let drivers get to I-495 North. (Graphic courtesy of VDOT)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

TYSONS CORNER, Va. - Drivers should brace for more shifts and twists this week along the Express Lanes project in Northern Virginia.

First, on Friday, the Virginia Department of Transportation is expected to permanently remove the right loop ramp from eastbound Route 7 to the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway. In its place, a new traffic signal and left turn will be activated.

Also, VDOT is working to address the complaints associated with the ramp from the Outer Loop of the Beltway to Interstate 66 West.

VDOT says over the weekend, it will restore that ramp from one lane to two. Recently, the ramp was narrowed to a single lane, a change that caused some big backups on the Outer Loop.

An additional fifth lane will be added to I-66 West. Lanes along I-66 West will be narrowed to accommodate the change, and the shoulders will go away for a short stretch. Drivers are asked to be extra careful passing through.

Overall, the Express Lane project, previously known as the High Occupancy Toll Lanes project or HOT Lanes, is scheduled to be completed late this year.

"The only way we will get to the future with positive results is by biting the bullet and taking the time," said Steve Titunik, VDOT spokesman.

"By in large, everything looks good. We are on schedule. Hopefully, spring and summer are great construction (seasons) for us."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)