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New phase on 14th St. Bridge

Drivers on the northbound 14th Street Bridge should get set for a lane shift starting Monday, as the year-old rehabilitation project on the bridge enters a new phase. While the current phase has lasted way longer than we told you in May 2009, it has been relatively easy to deal with.

In the next phase, the work zone will move left, into the middle lanes. As a result, the lanes will be split around the work zone. Drivers still will have four lanes on the bridge at peak periods, but they will be routed around the construction barriers.

The key problem will lining up your lane for the 14th Street/I-395 split on the north side of the bridge. If you're driving north from Virginia on I-395, you will want to line up your lane extra early. If you're coming up the ramp from the George Washington Parkway, you'll want to look sharp and waste no time if you need to get left to reach 14th Street.

The work zone won't take away an entire lane for the full length of the bridge. But the partial blockage of the lane will make the merge distance much shorter before and after the blockage.

This isn't for commuters only. Keep this new lane shift in mind if you're driving from Virginia to Nationals Park, when you'll want to be in the lanes to the right across the bridge.

The District Department of Transportation is going to announce more details later Wednesday. Part of this should be explaining why the first phase lasted a full year when all the work on the road surface was originally scheduled to be done by now.

This weekend
Setting up the work zone and re-striping the lanes will require overnight work this weekend. The two right lanes are scheduled to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. All the lanes will be open by 5 a.m. Monday, but commuters will find them in different places than when they last saw them.

Carpool; take VRE, Metro or a commuter bus; adjust your work schedule; telecommute; or try another bridge. The nearby driving options are the Key, Roosevelt and Memorial bridges to the northwest of the 14th Street Bridge. But after that, it's down to the Wilson Bridge.

By Robert Thomson  | June 9, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting, Congestion, Construction, District, Driving  | Tags:  14th Street Bridge, Dr. Gridlock  
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Here is a nugget of advice for those at DDOT that so many other jurisdicational transportation agencies have seemed to learn.

1. The least intrusive, most efficient and cheapest solution (for the DC Tax payers) would have been a complete shutdown of the bridge. Based on decades of personal infrastructure management on projects far larger than this, DDOT should have been able to finish the entire scope of bridge repair in 50% less time and for 25-30% less money had they just completely shut the thing down for 6 months. Then your contractor would have been able to deploy full teams of multiple crews, 24/7.

Yes, the first week or two of the shut down would have been a nightmare, but there are two other bridges to DC serviced by high volume feeder roads.

Instead, what we have are projects that are shaping up to last years longer than necessary at the long term annoyance and detriment of everyone.

Posted by: Nosh1 | June 9, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps one day they will make a mistake and finally finish whatever they've been doing on the Roosevelt Bridge (I-66) for the last umpteen years.

Talk about milking a job!

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 9, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Nosh1, I will go to bed tonight thankful that you are not a decision maker at DDOT.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | June 9, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

So how long was Phase I supposed to take? except for saying that the project will take a year to complete all eight phases, there's no schedule posted on the DDOT website. Does this mean it will take four more years to do the remaining four lanes?

Posted by: Terps450 | June 9, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Nosh1, your idea makes great sense when there are plenty of alternative routes, or when you are out in the midwest somewhere where waiting through more than one light cycle is a "horrible" traffic day.

But this is DC. Traffic is bad enough without a bridge being closed down. And don't forget the politics too. DDOT shut down one lane on Chain Bridge and people from Virginia screamed bloody murder. They would never stand for the entire 14th Street Bridge being shut.

Posted by: thetan | June 9, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Terps, the northbound span is now supposed to be done by the end of this year.

The first phase originally was supposed to last about three months and all the other phases were supposed to take about a month each. So under the original timetable, it was all supposed to be over by now.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | June 9, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Doc. I use the bridge every day to get to work. I'll let you now how Phase 2 affects my commute.

Posted by: Terps450 | June 14, 2010 5:54 AM | Report abuse

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