ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The days of rush-hour lane closures that created major traffic jams on the Capital Beltway between Springfield and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge are over. Beltway construction related to the bridge is done.
Five lanes of traffic in each direction are open between the bridge and Eisenhower Avenue, with the exception of the area near Telegraph Road.
"Short-term pain for long-term gain" is how Chris Sherard with Potomac Crossing Consultants describes what drivers have endured. Potomac Crossing Consultants has managed the huge, decade-long Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.
Paving still needs to be done on the shoulders of the local lanes, but Sherard says that work will take place during off-peak times. That work will take six months.
"There will not be the major interruptions of traffic that we've had in the past," he says.
Drivers will find wider shoulders on both the main lanes and the local lanes. The 12-foot shoulders will accommodate wrecks and break downs that happen.
The area has been a bottleneck for traffic, especially since the new, wider Wilson Bridge opened.
Telegraph Road at the Beltway remains under construction. A new Telegraph Road bridge over railroad tracks near Duke Street is being built. Work there will last until early 2013, according to Sherard.
When that bridge is completed, perhaps by January of next year, then the entire Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project will be done. Construction began in October 2000.
On the Capital Beltway, between Springfield and the American Legion Bridge, drivers still have to contend with construction of the Interstate 495 Express Lanes. They're expected to open at the end of the year. When they do, the entire Virginia portion of the Beltway will have a minimum of five lanes each way.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)