Motorists traveling the outer loop of the Capital Beltway (I-95 North) approaching the exit to Route 1 North into Old Town Alexandria face a new challenge thanks to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge construction project. Those that fail to pay attention will find themselves on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.
A new temporary ramp taking motorists from the Outer Loop to Route 1 North opened this past weekend. Motorists need to pay attention to signs directing them to the new exit, which occurs a mile before the current ramp, according to the project's public information office.
This new exit is accessed via the recently opened Outer Loop Route 1 South ramp. Drivers who miss the new exit ramp will not be able to turn around until they reach the Maryland side of the bridge, according to a WWB Project news release.
Drivers using the new ramp will use a new traffic signal to turn left, northbound, onto Route 1. Motorists going south on Route 1 will bear right off the recently opened ramp prior to reaching the traffic signal. This temporary ramp and traffic signal, which will ultimately be replaced with a loop ramp, will be in place for approximately 18 months.
"Outer Loop drivers bound for Old Town Alexandria and points north need to pay extra attention so they do not miss the new exit, which must be accessed much earlier than the previous exit," said Ronaldo "Nick" Nicholson, WWB project manager, Virginia Department of Transportation.
"If they miss the exit, they will be forced to travel to Maryland in order to turn around. They could encounter significant delays if they are traveling during peak traffic times. So, they need to be extra alert," Nicholson said.
The project is airing traffic reports on several radio stations to alert drivers of the change. The temporary ramp is part of the ongoing rebuilding of the Route 1 Interchange element of the new bridge project.
Ultimately there will be a new Route 1 Capital Beltway overpass replacing the traffic light. This new overpass is scheduled to be completed in 2008/2009, according to Nicholson.