ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP/ABC7) - A long-awaited milestone arrives for drivers on the Capital Beltway with the permanent opening of new lanes on the Virginia side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
On Monday, the highway opens in its new configuration with five lanes each direction between the Wilson Bridge and Springfield. The work, which was part of the decade-long Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, aimed to ease traffic congestion in the busy area that connects Maryland to Virginia.
The old Wilson Bridge had only three lanes in each direction and was a bottleneck on the Beltway and Interstate 95. During construction, the Virginia lanes west of the bridge have had only three lanes each way.
For Tamika Delaney, who commutes every day from Woodbridge to Alexandria for her job, the new ride is a dream come true.
"I feel relieved this morning," she said. "When I get to work, I will not be exhausted. As long as the congestion stops, I'll be phenominally happy."
When the I-495 Express Lanes open at the end of the year between Springfield and the American Legion Bridge, the entire Virginia portion of the Beltway will have a minimum of five lanes each way.
Officials from the Wilson Bridge project lauded the completion of the work, but caution drivers that the new traffic pattern may take some getting used to.
"Be cautious coming through here; it's a new configuration," spokesman John Undeland said. "People will be getting used to open pavement in front of them rather than red lights."