City Desk

Memorial Bridge Circle: A Victim of “Peculiarity”

Coming off Memorial Bridge onto the George Washington Parkway is enough to get anyone flustered. As Wikipedia says:

A peculiarity of the at the western terminus is that traffic already in the circle must yield to traffic entering the circle — the exact opposite of the usual rule.

Every morning I see exactly the same traffic incident resulting from this "peculiarity."

A Virginia-bound car (a) exits the bridge just as a car in the traffic circle (b) inches forward, not sure to whom it's supposed to yield. At point (c), car (a) nearly rear-ends car (b) at point (c) then lays on the horn and chases car (b) all the way down toward 395, honking, flashing lights, and flipping the bird. (I'm at point (d), glad I'm on a bike.)

I see this every. single. morning. Anyone have any idea how this "peculiarity" could be addressed? You can't have bridge traffic yield; that would quickly back traffic up across the bridge and probably up 23rd Street NW and the Rock Creek Parkway. Could signage address it? A light?

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  • IMGoph

    how about getting rid of the mess of ramps and what-not on that side of the bridge, and rationalize the mess down to some plain intersections? could open up a lot more park space over there by getting rid of so much asphalt!

  • downtown rez

    How about by choosing a different bike route? After all, if a tree falls in the forest, WTF does a whale care? Or something like that.

  • Simon

    I love the Memorial Bridge because it's "Virginians' Secret Bridge." You'll never see a DC or MD license plate on it. Every other bridge could be jammed solid and the Mem.Br. is flowing smoothly. All the above incidents that you describe are due to tourists, because there's no reason that anyone who knows where they're going would need to continue around the circle in the way in which you describe.

  • Simon

    Seriously -- someone identify for me a reason why car "b" is where it is (in other words, where it's coming from and where it's going to).

  • David Alpert

    I'm with IMGoph. We have all this parkland over there and it's all crisscrossed with huge, curving freeway-like ramps that never seem that crowded. How about the GW Parkway just intersect the Memorial Bridge road at a single, land-efficient interchange of some kind, and we make the rest an actual park for people to enjoy. It's even on the Metro.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Simon, my experience is different; I see D.C. tags there all the time. This morning's incident, in fact, involved two folks with D.C. plates.

    Car (b) could either have come around the circle from Arlington Cemetery or Rt. 110 or from the Mount Vernon side of the parkway. It can go straight and join up with the parkway heading north or bear off to the left just past the circle and take the parkway toward Mount Vernon or exit quickly onto 395.

    Other than that, piece of cake.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    I should add that if car (a) wants to get on Rt. 110, it has to go through the circle, too, adding another layer of white-knuckling. I do it all the time, but I have ice in my veins. Ask anyone.

  • Steve

    Well, except the point that (d) is not an offical path, but rather a dirt path that runners have created, which takes them over the northbound lanes of the GWMP, across traffic, where there is no crosswalk. There is a crosswalk south of the bridge, use it.

  • crin

    Of the three lanes coming off the bridge, left lane should be curbed into a separate lane well back of the circle. Then at the circle. leftmost lane, should be given a stop sign/yield to circle while the separate center and right lanes continue with their right of way onto parkway.

    Both lanes of circle keep right of way. Outermost lane of circle keeps right of way to become leftmost lane of northbound parkway.

    Circle stop line right now at about 4 o'clock should be moved farther back to 5 o'clock.

  • Simon

    Still doesn't make any sense to me. There are very few cars that go around the circle compared to the great number of cars (and buses, and Tourmobiles) proceeding from the DC side of the Mem.Br. towards Arl.Cem. and 110 South.

  • Brandon

    That intersection (is that the right word?) is horrible.

  • Gene

    This intersection could be converted into a standard roundabout with right of way given to traffic in the circle rather than that entering, modified to give dedicated right turn lanes for the northbound GW Pkwy traffic onto Memorial Bridge and the Memorial Bridge traffic onto Northbound GW Pkwy. Or maybe better yet forget dedicated lanes and make everyone yield to circle, in practice for the dominant flows there is little contention.
    I come in from Arlington Cemetery approach toward DC and have to to cross or merge into the north bound GW stream, ugly, Works better if I cheat and use the inner lane, using the outer lane backup as a shield, tourists have their uses.

    It doesn't help that the Park Service is highway/car hostile, although I don't really blame them, traffic flow is not their highest priority.

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