GW Parkway construction to shift traffic to southbound lanes in McLean area

The new GW Parkway traffic pattern during weekday morning rush hours, starting Jan. 6, 2024 (courtesy NPS)

The GW Parkway’s northern section is on the brink of a new phase in its rehabilitation process.

Starting tomorrow (Saturday), construction on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean will shift from the southbound lanes to the northbound ones between the Capital Beltway (I-495) and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road).

The traffic shift will be implemented over roughly three days, necessitating single-lane closures on the parkway’s northbound side starting at 8 p.m. today (Friday) until 2:45 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8.

The new traffic pattern will require all drivers headed north toward Maryland to use a temporary, reversible lane that first opened in the parkway’s median last April, when construction began on the southbound lanes, the National Park Service announced.

“The left southbound lane (closest to the median) will serve as the reversible lane, which provides flexibility to change direction for morning and evening rush hours,” the NPS said. “The right southbound lane will always serve as a southbound lane.”

The new GW Parkway traffic pattern during weekday evening rush hours, starting Jan. 6, 2024 (courtesy NPS)

Here’s from the National Park Service on the new traffic pattern, which will be in effect for the remainder of construction through late 2025:

Weekday morning rush hour (5:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)  

  • Two lanes southbound (toward Washington, DC).
  • Drivers who need to exit at Route 123 or CIA Headquarters must use the right lane.
  • One lane northbound (toward Maryland/Virginia).

Weekday evening rush hour (2:45 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.)  

  • Two lanes northbound (toward Maryland/Virginia).
  • Drivers who need to exit at Route 123 or CIA Headquarters must use the right lane.
  • Drivers heading toward Maryland must use the right lane.
  • Drivers heading toward Virginia via I-495 must use the left lane (the reversible lane).
  • One lane southbound (toward Washington, DC).

Weekdays (9:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.) and weekends/holidays 

  • One lane southbound (toward Washington, DC).
  • One lane northbound (toward Maryland/Virginia).

Drivers should observe traffic signs, respect the 40-mph speed limit, expect delays through narrow travel lanes and plan alternate routes. Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over 10,000 lbs. are always prohibited from using the parkway.

This traffic pattern allows the project crews greater access to the roadway, which will reduce the time needed to complete the project. Temporary concrete barriers will be placed along the northbound lane throughout January to create a safer work zone for crews.

NPS notes that the timing of the traffic shift and the reversible lane schedule could change if there’s snow or other inclement weather — a strong possibility this weekend, current forecasts suggest.

The northern portion of the parkway will shut down four hours before any storm that’s expected to bring two or more inches of snow or any freezing rain or ice.

Announced in 2021, the North Parkway Rehabilitation Project will update the GW Parkway from the Beltway to Sprout Run in Alexandria with a redesigned Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) interchange, new asphalt paving, stormwater management system repairs, extended entrance and exit lanes and other improvements.

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