ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — The George Washington Memorial Parkway, like many other roadways in the D.C. metro area, is notorious for heavy traffic. But it’s about to take a turn for the worse.

Over the weekend, a new traffic plan went into effect for a portion of the parkway, slashing the number of available lanes in half at times.

The parkway is in line for a multi-year rehabilitation project, set to receive a much-needed facelift to the aging roads which are covered with numerous potholes. Unfortunately for drivers, the roadwork will stretch into at least December 2025.

What drivers need to know

Most commuters recognize the GW Parkway as four total lanes: two lanes run southbound (towards Washington, D.C.) and two northbound (towards I-495). Under the new traffic pattern, the total number of lanes between I-495 and Route 123 will never be higher than three.

During weekday morning and evening rush hours, three lanes will be available. At all other times, including weekends, only two lanes will be open for cars, one running northbound and another southbound.

During weekday morning rush hour, two lanes on the “modified” GW Parkway will run southbound towards D.C., and one northbound towards I-495. During weekday evening rush hour, it’s the opposite. Two lanes will run northbound toward, and another southbound. (Courtesy: NPS)

The National Park Service (NPS), which is spearheading the rehabilitation project, is letting drivers know about a new 40 mph speed limit between I-495 and Spout Run Parkway to keep construction crews safe.

What’s happening to GW Parkway?

NPS released a list detailing the changes coming over the next few years, including updates to “improve the driving experience, safety, and water drainage.”

The focus area for the construction crews stretches from Spout Run Parkway to Interstate 495, which is roughly 10 miles of roadway.

Here’s the list of improvements, according to NPS:

  • Replacement of the asphalt pavement
  • Redesign of the Route 123 interchange
  • Repair of stormwater management systems
  • Reconstruction of stone walls and roadside barriers
  • Rehabilitation of historic overlooks
  • Lengthening of entrance and exit lanes at some interchanges
  • Re-opening of historic views along the parkway
A NPS map showing the rehabilitation area. (Courtesy: National Park Service)

What options do I have?

First and foremost, don’t navigate the GW Parkway — especially during the morning and evening rush — if you don’t have to do it.

NPS created a one-stop-shop site where you can see updated construction news and impacts. You also can sign up there for NPS email updates about traffic, meeting notices, and major milestones.

Metrorail is a travel alternative. If driving is the only option, be sure to check your phone or car GPS before leaving the house. A quick glance at the current traffic situation can save you a lot of time.