CHEVY CHASE, Md. (WJLA) - Officials from the Maryland State Highway Administration said emergency roadwork in Chevy Chase heading into D.C. is likely to snarl traffic through the weekend.
An average milling of the roadway scheduled for the circle that goes down Connecticut Avenue from Western Avenue to the East-West Highway turned into a much uglier project than anyone expected when crews discovered that the road beneath the surface was badly crumbling.
"Approximately two weeks ago, as part of the overall $2.5-million safety and resurfacing project between MD-410 and the D.C. line, crews milled off the top two inches of asphalt in preparation for final resurfacing," Maryland State Highway Administration officials said in a statement Wednesday. "Crews found the road base pavement to be in an advanced state of deterioration, meaning the asphalt originally planned to be used could not be applied, as a stronger, more fibrous mix was needed to offset the deterioration."
Officials said for that reason, the decision was made to close two lanes at a time in one direction in order to perform the complete repaving that needs to be done.
"SHA’s contractor determined closing two lanes until the paving work could be completed was the only safe option - the travel lanes in this section of MD-185 are narrow and one lane is not sufficient enough space to perform the work," officials said.
At least 46,000 cars per day travel through that 1.5-mile stretch of the circle, making traffic through the area difficult on a typical day, but taking traffic down from the usual three lanes in each direction to just one caused major traffic delays - and now it looks like drivers can expect those delays for several more days.
Officials expect crews to complete paving along northbound MD-185 (Connecticut Avenue) early Thursday and immediately cross over onto southbound MD-185 by around noon.
"All six lanes on this section of MD-185 are expected to be paved by Saturday night, weather permitting," officials said Wednesday.
With two northbound Connecticut Avenue lanes expected to be closed Wednesday and Thursday and two southbound Connecticut Avenue lanes expected to be closed through the Friday morning rush-hour, traffic is expected to be "severely impacted," officials said, and "motorists should consider MD-355 (Wisconsin Avenue) or other alternate routes."
COMMUTE ALTERNATIVES FOR MOTORISTS
There aren't many good alternates, as all the nearby roads are a mess.
ABC 7 News' traffic partners at WTOP radio say the best advice is to avoid the area all together and use other roadways far from the area, such as River Road to the Beltway and back to Connecticut Avenue. Of course, then you have to deal with the Beltway.
Also, there's 16th Street to Georgia Avenue to the Beltway, but again, then you have to use the Beltway back to Connecticut Avenue.
Here are roads not to use: Wisconsin Avenue, Western Avenue, Brookville Road, Bradley Lane, East-West Highway and Jones Bridge Road - as they are all a mess.
Best advice is to work your way around to the Beltway and go North or South on Connecticut from there, as southbound Connecticut Avenue is not bad heading from the Beltway back towards Chevy Chase.
Northbound from the Beltway is also okay, but because it's the Beltway, of course, anything can happen.