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Southbound GW Parkway in McLean to close this month, shifting traffic to new, reversible lane

The George Washington Memorial Parkway’s northern section (via National Park Service)

Updated at 12:55 p.m. on 4/14/2023 The National Park Service has delayed the GW Parkway changes due to forecasts calling for inclement weather over the weekend. The lane shift is now expected to begin around April 21-24.

Earlier: Drivers will soon have to get accustomed to a brand-new traffic pattern on the McLean section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Starting Saturday, April 15, the existing southbound lanes will close between the Capital Beltway (I-495) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Blvd and Chain Bridge Road) so crews can begin rehabilitating that portion of the roadway.

All traffic will shift to the northbound lanes, which have been expanded with the addition of a third, temporary lane in the median. The new lane will change directions based on where rush-hour traffic is headed.

“This temporary lane will serve as a reversible lane, which provides flexibility to change direction for morning and evening rush hours,” the National Park Service said in a news release yesterday (Monday). “This traffic pattern allows the project contractor greater access to the roadway, which will reduce the time needed to complete the project.”

If there’s inclement weather on April 15, the new traffic pattern will commence on Saturday, April 22 instead.

According to the NPS, here is the daily schedule for the reversible lane:

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.
  • One lane southbound (toward Washington, DC).

Weekdays (9:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m.) and weekends

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

The park service advises drivers to pay attention to traffic signs, adhere to the roadway’s 40 mph speed limit, and prepare for potential delays.

“To increase safety, small physical barriers will divide the narrow, 10-foot-wide lanes,” the NPS said, noting that vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds will still be barred from the parkway.

Federal officials broke ground on the north GW Parkway rehabilitation in July 2022. The approximately $161 million project will update the parkway’s northern section — from the Beltway to Sprout Run in Arlington — for the first time since it was originally completed in 1962.

Funded by the Great American Outdoors Act, which was passed in 2020 to support infrastructure and recreational improvements on public lands, the project will install new pavement, redesign the Route 123 interchange, repair stormwater facilities, lengthen some entrance and exit lanes, and more.

The NPS anticipates the three-lane pattern remaining in place throughout the rest of construction, which is projected to finish in December 2025.

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