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Beach Drive Closure to Create Traffic Headaches in NW D.C.

What to Know

  • Starting on Thursday, Beach Drive is going to be closed from Tilden Street to the Rock Creek Parkway, impacting thousands of commuters.
  • The project will take three years to complete, but it is being broken up into stages.
  • The National Park Service is tired of spending tens of thousands of dollars each year on patches.

Travelers in northwest Washington may need to find alternate routes to get around as a major road closure is only days away.

Starting on Thursday, Beach Drive is going to be closed from Tilden Street to the Rock Creek Parkway, impacting thousands of commuters. District officials said Beach Drive is in bad shape and needs to be fixed.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. "If you normally use Beach Drive as part of your commute, you should think of alternate ways to commute."

The project will take three years to complete, but it is being broken up into stages.

The first stage starts Thursday as Beach Drive shuts down from Tilden Street to the Rock Creek Parkway intersection. This is the stretch of Beach Drive that goes past the national zoo and the tunnel.

"Wow," said Matt Bateman, who uses Beach Drive. "That's going to significantly affect a lot of people's travel."

The reason for the work is simple. The road is rough, and the National Park Service is tired of spending tens of thousands of dollars each year on patches.

"Beach Drive was last rehabilitated 26 years ago in 1991 and has surpassed its 20 year service life," said Frank Young, deputy superintendent of Rock Creek Park for the National Park Service.

Cameron Fuller, a driver who uses Beach Drive, said the work is needed, but he has some homework to do about an alternate route.

"I usually travel that way once a day at least some," Fuller said. "I'm going to have to find a way around that for the next three years."

The District Department of Transportation knows traffic will spill onto other streets, like 16th Street and Connecticut Avenue. Traffic lights will be retimed, in some cases, and traffic control will be present at what DDOT calls intersections of concern.

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