- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2005

The second major phase of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction project began as planned yesterday, officials said.

“They’ve begun the ramp and lane closure implementation,” project spokeswoman Michelle Holland said just after the project’s 8 p.m. starting time. “We’re on schedule.”

This weekend’s “Beltway Shift” will allow crews to pave new road alignments on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway, help complete construction on the Washington Street overpass and open the first of two bridges by 2006.

Officials have predicted backups as long as 15 miles and 60- to 90-minute delays as a result of the construction. They also have warned that minor delays during the first major construction phase last month do not mean there will be few problems this time.

“Our traffic-protection estimate is that Saturday traffic will be slightly heavier … and with added traffic comes added backups. They just accumulate as the day goes on,” Ms. Holland said. “We are warning travelers that traffic could be heavier this time.”

Officials will narrow the Inner Loop this weekend from four lanes to one from the Interstate 295 exchange in Maryland to Route 1 in Virginia. They also will close ramps between the Inner Loop and Route 1 and from the Interstate 295 South ramp to the Inner Loop. The Inner Loop ramp to Mount Vernon will be closed until 2008.

The restrictions are scheduled to last until Monday at 5 a.m. Motorists are advised to take the western half of the Beltway, Route 301 through Maryland or Interstate 395 through the District.

Crews yesterday also lifted into place a nearly 500-ton, two-piece span that will form a drawbridge.

Gary Emerling

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