The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and the Capital Beltway. Exit numbers were reconfigured during 2000 to allow for a uniform mileage based system with numbers counting up from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge counterclockwise. Interstate 95 based mileage numbers are maintained from the Interstate 95/395/495 junction at Springfield to the Potomac River and District of Columbia line.
Probably the most well-known beltway in the country, Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway, encircles the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Constructed in the 1960s and fully opened to traffic in Virginia by April 1964 and in Maryland on August 17, 1964, Interstate 495 boasts between six and ten lanes as it encircles the Capital City.1 Expansion occurred several times through the years, and a new stack interchange at Springfield between the beltway, I-95 south and I-395 north was completed in 2006. The original Woodrow Wilson Bridge was the only bridge in the Interstate Highway System to be owned by the Federal Highway Administration; the state agencies (Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia) own the successor bridge that was completed in 2009.
When Interstate 95 was deleted from within the beltway in 1977, that designation wholly replaced I-495 on the eastern half of the beltway. However in 1989, the Interstate 495 designation was restored to the eastern beltway so that the highway would carry a consistent number for its entire length. AASHTO affirmed the restoration of Interstate 495 as a circular route at its route numbering committee meeting on June 10, 1991. As a result of this action by AASHTO, the eastern half of the Capital Beltway is signed as both Interstates 95 and 495. Mileage statistics of the Interstate Route Log and Finder list attribute the overlapped mileage to Interstate 95 only, and thus tabulate only 31.41 miles to Interstate 495 as a whole.
The 1961-opened Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a draw bridge spanning the Potomac River between Alexandria, Virginia and Oxon Hill, Maryland was replaced by a massive construction project between May 2001 and 2009. Work included the demolition of the original bridges, construction of new spans at a height 20 feet above their predecessors and interchange upgrades on both sides of the river. The new Woodrow Wilson Bridge carries four carriageways in a local and express configuration with a 70 foot draw span. Express/local roadways lead east beyond Maryland 210 (Indian Head Highway) and west to Telegraph Road. Work at area interchanges continued through early 2013 at Telegraph Road in Virginia.
Major work broke ground in 2008 on Interstate 495 between Springfield and McLean, Virginia. This work focused on the rebuilding of the Capital Beltway to include High Occupancy Toll lanes within the middle of the freeway. Carrying two lanes per direction with ramps independent of the I-495 mainline, the toll lanes require the use of EZPass transponders and tolls that vary with the time of day. Motorists with three or more passengers may use the lanes free of charge by equipping an EZPass Flex transponder (a device with the ability to relay a signal of "HOV-ON"). The lanes opened to traffic on November 17, 2012 at a cost of $2 billion in funds paid by private companies Transurban and Fleur.2 More information on the 495 ExpressLanes, including travel conditions and traffic cameras found at the official web site.
The 495 ExpressLanes begin along Interstate 495 just north of Virginia 267 (Dulles Access Road). The HOT lanes partition from the left-hand side of I-495 south and quickly split with a ramp to VA-267 west. Photo taken December 30, 2012.
Beltway Milepost 0 - Woodrow Wilson Bridge - Washington, District of Columbia
Perspective from Interstates 95 & 495 south
Interstates 95 & 495 south separate into a Local and Express configuration across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The Local lanes include access to interchanges both ahead and after the draw bridge while the Express lanes bypass all ramps. Photo taken by I.C. Ligget (03/26/10).
Crossing the Potomac River along the I-95 & 495 south Local Lanes of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge through the tenth of a mile sliver of southern District of Columbia. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Heading east through Alexandria, Interstates 95 & 495 north partition into Local and Express lanes ahead of the ramps for Virginia 241 (Telegraph Road). Photo taken 08/04/13.
Spanning the Potomac River along the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Local Lanes, Interstates 95 & 495 leave the 0.10-mile stretch through D.C. for Prince Georges County, Maryland. The south end of I-295 lies just east of the bridge end near Oxon Hill. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Two lanes join the Capital Beltway outer loop as the continuation of Interstate 95 north onto Interstate 495 east. The freeway mainline stays to the right for I-395 (Exit 170A) and I-495 north / inner loop (Exit 170B). Photo taken 12/21/12.
The Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway transitions from Interstate 95 north to Interstate 395 as Exit 170A while a flyover (Exit 170B) departs for Interstate 495 north to Tysons Corner. I-495 partitions with the ExpressLanes just west of the Springfield Interchange. Photo taken 12/21/12.
Traffic movements to Interstate 95 south (Exit 57A) through its nearby interchange with SSR 644 (Franconia Road) separate from the Capital Beltway east ahead of the SSR 617 (Backlick Road) underpass. Two lanes follow for I-395 north (Exit 57B). Photo taken 12/30/12.
A look at the former overhead signs for northbound Interstate 395 on Interstate 495 east. Note that the I-95 northbound merge of I-495 was treated as an exit and was given the number Exit 4A. Vidcap taken 05/27/95.
Perspective from Interstate 95 south & 495 west (Inner Loop Capital Beltway)
Interstate 95 south leaves the Capital Beltway via a two-lane flyover for Franconia, Fredericksburg and Richmond while I-495 continues west to I-395 north into Arlington. Photo taken 08/04/13.
A second left-hand ramp joins the Capital Beltway inner loop with the HOV roadway of Interstate 95 south to Stafford and I-395 north through Alexandria. The ExpressLanes of I-495 west commence just beyond the Springfield Interchange. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstates 95 north & 495 west, one half mile before their split. I-95 receives three lanes as it departs the Capital Beltway while I-495 maintains eight lanes overall through the north parent junction. Even with this many lanes, traffic delays are frequent. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (07/99).
Cherry Hill Road passes over Interstate 95 south as the freeway prepares to separate into ramps for the Capital Beltway. The southbound mainline merges onto the left-hand side of I-495 east, beyond the adjacent interchange with U.S. 1 at College Park. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Two lanes depart for I-95 & 495 south to Greenbelt, Glenarden and Oxon Hill on the east side of Washington, DC. Two lanes also continue to I-495 west to Silver Spring, Bethesda and the American Legion Bridge into Northern Virginia. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Following the ramp for I-495 west, traffic again splits with a single lane continuing south to a weigh station, carpool lot, and an return ramp to the Capital Beltway inner loop ahead of U.S. 1 at College Park. The left-hand movement utilizes the I-95 stub constructed for the canceled route through Washington. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Source: December 31, 2014 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 495 Annual Average Daily Traffic
Woodrow Wilson Bridge
Chevy Chase View
Source: 2002 AADTS Report (Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Highway Information
Virginia Department of Transportation 2002 AADT
Complete Interstate 495 data.