Progress on Douglass Bridge
While some of you are sitting in traffic on I-295 and Pennsylvania Avenue because of the Douglass Bridge shutdown, construction crews are working two 10-hour shifts each day to get the rehabilitation job done on schedule.
Ardeshir Nafici, the acting associate director of the District Department of Transportation, and project manager Chase Cox led a tour Wednesday morning across the top of the bridge. If you do a 360-degree turn up there, the Anacostia waterfront area looks like one continuous work zone, and that's been one of the challenges on the bridge project: Coordinating with the utility companies and developers who also are working along the South Capitol Street corridor on projects like the new Nationals stadium.
Nafici says that's been going remarkably well, and the bridge reconstruction is on schedule. They say they'll be done by their deadline of Sept. 7, but are hoping to finish up before that. Since the bridge was shut on July 6, the key event was the cranking down of the elevated roadway on the north side of the bridge so that vehicles will reach street level before Potomac Avenue, where a new intersection will be controlled by a traffic signal.
[Several commenters have discussed bridge safety issues in light of yesterday's collapse in Minnesota, so I thought I'd drop in a link to Post staff writer Elissa Silverman's story headlined D.C. Region's Bridges Are Safe, Officials Say. Also, we have audio of Mayor Adrian Fenty discussing bridge safety issues today on WTWP radio. Finally, there's a Live Online discussion about bridge safety with a civil engineer from 1 to 2 p.m. today. ]
They are a few days away from the concrete pour that will connect the lowered roadway to an approach slab that will bring it down to street level. The workers also will install new lighting on the bridge, finish removing the old, ugly railing along the sides and replace it with something more decorative, and finish the deck repair and paving.
"Come back in two weeks and you'll be amazed at the changes," Nafici said.
There's plenty of paving underway farther north along South Capitol Street. But the plan is to reopen everything -- street and bridge -- at the same time, Nafici said. An earlier opening of sections of South Capitol might just generate more traffic in the congested area.
When it's all done, the project officials said, drivers will notice that the trip across the new asphalt is much smoother, the roadway markings clearer and the side railings more attractive. Though the road will reach street level more quickly on the north side, it won't create any sort of roller coaster effect for motorists. The descent to Potomac Avenue looks like it will be quite easy.
In the meantime, DDOT is continuing to monitor the impact of the bridge shutdown on traffic. Most recently, the left turn signal on outbound Pennsylvania Avenue east of the Sousa Bridge was lengthened to ease the backup for drivers heading north. Metro ridership traditionally drops off in August, which should make for an easier ride on the Green Line through the detour zone.
Andrew Leyden, one of the commuters who has been advising me about the commute during the shutdown, drives in from Chesapeake Beach and often winds up using Suitland Parkway to reach downtown Washington. He said this week that flexibility has helped him:
"I've altered my schedule such that I don't notice much traffic. I'm rarely to Firth Stirling Avenue before 9:30, and often just take East Capitol or Pennsylvania Avenue if radio reports of the 11th Street Bridge are bad.
"Most people still complain about the outbound, but the Stanton Road light (the worst timed light in DC) is more to blame for that (they need an overpass -- there is no other solution).
"I think this has really affected the 295'ers more than the Suitland'ers. The 295 crowd really has no option but 295."
Posted by: Wrinkle | August 2, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 2, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dirrtysw | August 2, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Steve (former Post Employee!) | August 2, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CEEAF | August 2, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Andrew | August 3, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Andrew | August 6, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: clayton | August 8, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.