I-395

Dangerous Merge Near Pentagon Has Drivers Stopping in Traffic on I-395 South

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The Virginia Department of Transportation is addressing a dangerous merge on Interstate 395 South near Crystal City and the Pentagon after a photographer shared video of some wild traffic moves.

Drivers are coming to complete stops in the middle of the busy road because they believe they need to get across several lanes of traffic to make an exit.

Former reporter Dave Statter runs the blog Statter 911 and now considers himself a safety advocate because he’s been sending video he’s been filming from his apartment to VDOT over and over again, telling the agency about the problems.

“It shocks me no matter how many times I see it,” Statter said. “People stop in the middle of an interstate highway, and they just go across four lanes to get to the exit that they’re about to miss.”

It shocks me no matter how many times I see it. People stop in the middle of an interstate highway, and they just go across four lanes to get to the exit that they’re about to miss.

Dave Statter

It’s not just cars. Tour buses that have been pulling these moves over and over again.

“I see buses, professional drivers, do the same thing as us amateur drivers – stopping in the middle of the highway, making basically what’s a left turn in the middle of an interstate highway,” Statter said.

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Statter’s video started as a pandemic hobby, but now he’s got so much video of the road that real safety changes are starting to be made. Traffic barrels have been put in place to try to prevent these movements. The road is also getting new signage, new striping and eventually the whole interchange will be redesigned this summer.

“People will now have instead of a 300-foot merge between the two exits, they’ll have almost a 1,200-foot merge, so we kind of attacked it from different angles,” said Ellen Kamilakis of VDOT.

VDOT also discovered people’s GPS devices have been telling them to make the turns, so VDOT reached out to companies like Waze and Google to get them to change that. 

“We started with telling the GPS companies, Hey, please, can you prevent this movement?” Kamilakis said. “The next step was to put the temporary barrels in.”

Drivers should pay extra attention in the area and not stop in the middle of the road. A more permanent safety fix is coming.

VDOT said it wants to be told about anything that doesn’t look right on the road.

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