Delays reopening parts of 495 in Virginia following overnight highway project led to 3-hour backups

Virginia transportation officials say delays reopening parts of the Capital Beltway on Wednesday morning following an overnight highway project led to traffic gridlock and created backups of up to three hours for some commuters.

The delays began building on Interstate 495 in the McLean area early Wednesday near where construction to the Live Oak Drive bridge was being done. The bridge operation involved the lifting of steel girders into place with a large crane, then bolting, securing, and stabilizing them.

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Delays reopening parts of 495 in Virginia following overnight highway project led to 3-hour backups

As part of the project, triple lane closures shut down the highway in both directions between Georgetown Pike and the George Washington Memorial Parkway beginning at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The plan was to reopen all lanes by 5 a.m. Wednesday. However, officials said issues with the construction operation caused it to take longer than expected and required keeping the lanes of the highway closed into the morning rush hour.

A disabled tractor-trailer later in the morning further added to the congestion.

READ MORE: 3-hour delays on I-495 in northern Virginia after roadwork, disabled tractor-trailer

"We cannot reopen traffic until the beams are secure, and sometimes crews run into unexpected issues in the field and the work takes longer than expected," said the Virginia Department of Transportation in a statement issued Wednesday. "We know this was disruptive and frustrating to drivers this morning, but safety is our top priority."

The new Live Oak Drive bridge is being constructed as part of the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension project, known as 495 NEXT. 

Additional bridge girders were scheduled to be lifted Wednesday night, but the work was canceled, officials said. Additional work is scheduled over the coming weeks.

Drivers can sign up for 495 NEXT project alerts online. The project involves extending the 495 Express Lanes north by two-and-a-half miles from the Dulles Corridor to the George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange near the American Legion Bridge.