Major construction work on the Arlington Memorial Bridge kicked off late last night (Sunday), snarling traffic for thousands of commuters headed into D.C. this morning.
Traffic cameras and maps showed heavy backups along both I-395 and Washington Blvd approaching the bridge for the morning rush hour. Other nearby roads, like the G.W. Parkway and Arlington Blvd, also saw heavy delays, no doubt worsened by the morning’s dreary conditions.
The National Park Service has closed three of the bridge’s six lanes to allow for the $227 million rehab project, which planners say is needed to avoid a full shutdown of the bridge in the coming years.
The NPS plans to keep one eastbound lane and one westbound lane open at all times, then reverse one lane to match the direction of traffic in the morning and afternoon rush hours. One of the bridge’s sidewalks will also be closed at all times as the work continues.
AAA is warning commuters to avoid the bridge if at all possible between now and the expected end of construction in 2021, reasoning that the delays for the 24.8 million vehicles to cross the bridge each year are too substantial to be ignored.
“If possible, avoid the Arlington Memorial Bridge altogether. Seek alternate routes and try other modes of transportation, if you can, while construction is underway,” John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, wrote in a statement. “Plan your trips across and around the Memorial Bridge. If you must use the bridge, do the right thing, drive carefully and slowly through the construction site, watch for construction workers, expect changing travel patterns and possible delays, exercise extreme caution, and minimize distractions.”
The NPS has details about the bridge’s new traffic pattern, and suggestions for commuters looking to avoid the bridge, available on its website.