Beach Drive Closure Has Worsened Nearby Traffic by 70 Percent

It's not your imagination -- the partial closure of Beach Drive has significantly worsened traffic on surrounding streets.

The D.C. Department of Transportation said Monday that roads near Beach Drive -- including Connecticut Avenue, Cathedral Avenue and Tilden Street -- have seen 70 percent more traffic than usual because of the construction work.

"Around 5 p.m. it's a mess right now," driver Carlos Machado said.

Beach Drive has been closed from Tilden Street to Rock Creek Parkway since Sept. 22 so the National Park Service can make major repairs. The work is expected to last six to eight months.

Pedestrians also are affected by the closure. Student Alexandria Less said she used to walk to Georgetown University using the trail near the road. But she too has had to find a new route.

"It's really thrown me off," she said. "I have to go all the way around now, around the zoo, and that's like another half mile, which doesn't sound like a lot but when you are walking 4 miles, it adds some time."

DDOT is urging drivers to consider how they can get cars off the roads.

"There are definitely transit options. There's carpooling options, even if people could telework one day a week that would remove a lot of the pressure on the overall area," spokesman Sam Zimbabwe said.

DDOT will continue to monitor traffic and look into whether the timing of traffic signals can help. The department is seeking input from the community on how to best keep everyone moving.

Driver Bennie Carlson said he has taken matters into his own hands to avoid sitting in traffic. 

"I'm in and out of town early and late so I don't catch the traffic that everybody else does," he said. 

The National Park Service says the first segment of construction will have two phases. During phase 1A, Beach Drive will stay open between Piney Branch Parkway and Porter Street so vehicles can cross Rock Creek Park. During phase 1B, it will close.

Segment 2 will effect Beach Drive between Tilden Street and Broad Branch Road. Segment 3 will run from Broad Branch Road to Joyce Road. And Segment 4 will involve Joyce Road to the D.C./Maryland border.

The entire project could take as long as three years.

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