- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

Commuters driving around Thomas Circle in Northwest can expect to see some traffic delays as city transportation officials begin a yearlong restoration project today that will ease congestion and rehabilitate worn-out roads.

Bill Rice, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation, said yesterday that the project will cause intermittent road closures, traffic detours and parking restrictions.

“The fastest way to do it is to just shut the whole circle down, but you can’t do that — so we are doing it in relatively small phases … so that the traffic disruption is minimized,” Mr. Rice said.

The $5.6 million restoration at Thomas Circle, at Massachusetts Avenue and 14th Street NW, is expected to be completed in January 2006.

Mr. Rice said drivers are asked to use alternate routes, such as 13th Street NW, one block east of the construction site.

Road work will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Work will be conducted on Saturday when necessary.

One of the project’s goals is to incorporate city architect Pierre L’Enfant’s original vision for the circle, Mr. Rice said. As designed by L’Enfant, the circle contained a large grassy area surrounding the statue of Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas. Most of the circle is now occupied by cut-through traffic lanes.

When the project is completed, the cut-through lanes will be eliminated and all vehicular traffic will be directed to the perimeter of the circle, making traffic flow better.

“If you have traffic controlled by traffic lights that goes around in one continuous flow, that can actually make traffic smoother,” Mr. Rice said.

Other features of the reconfigured circle will include bicycle lanes and easier pedestrian access. Mr. Rice said utilities underneath the road also will be upgraded.

Other road projects in the District are set to continue as scheduled after the holiday break.

Parking restrictions on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown were reinstated yesterday at 10 p.m. after the Georgetown Project’s annual holiday moratorium. Work will continue on Wisconsin Avenue between M and R streets NW through July, when the second phase of the Georgetown project is scheduled to be completed.

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