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New I-495, I-66 ramp may cause more accidents, headaches

Monday - 12/19/2011, 10:07am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- An new area ramp designed to eliminate a tricky merge between two major commuter arteries might actually increase the chances of auto accidents.

The new connection between Interstate 66 East to Interstate 495 North allows two lanes of traffic to exit I-66 to the right, and immediately narrows down to one lane before the ramp puts traffic on the Inner Loop. It was first open to rush hour traffic Monday morning.

By 8:30 a.m., a tractor trailer got into an accident at this bottleneck. There were no injuries.

The new ramp is designed to help the flow of Beltway traffic in that area by allowing traffic exiting I-66 east to flow onto a dedicated traffic lane along the right side of the Inner Loop.

Previously, traffic exiting I-66 East approached the Inner Loop from the left side of I-495 North, causing a difficult merge area, slowing down traffic.

High Occupancy Vehicle traffic on the left-most I-66 inbound lanes still uses a left exit to merge onto I-495 north. But those drivers could opt to use the new ramp to access other arteries like Route 7, having to cross all lanes to get there and causing additional hangups.

Crossing multiple traffic lanes on I-66 might be easier access to Route 7 than having to cross all traffic lanes on the Beltway left to right to get to the exit for that route.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)