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Chain Bridge Work? Look Underneath For Signs

Right Lane Closed.jpg
Drivers say they haven't seen much more work since the lane was closed. (Thomson)

Many drivers who commute via Chain Bridge have been asking: If DC is going to block off one of our precious three lanes for this rehab job, can't we at least see some work? It came up again during my online chat Monday.

So far, most of the work is underneath the bridge and out of sight for the drivers crossing the bridge, said District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle. The workers are relocating the tow path on C&O Canal land to accommodate the steel repairs, and they are setting up to re-point the pier stone facing.

But the contractor needs the lane on the bridge for the delivery of materials, bridge lighting work and the painting of the superstructure steel beams, Lisle said.

(That reminded me of the American Legion Bridge rehab done by the Maryland State Highway Administration. Much of that work occurred under the bridge, but the right lane of the Beltway's inner loop was taken away for a construction staging area.)

Lisle said that DDOT and the contractor tried to figure out whether there was some other way to get the job done besides blocking off that lane, but concluded that therew was no way to avoid it.

One adjustment that was made: The signal lights on the Arlington and DC sides of the bridge were retimed and synchronized to ease the traffic congestion that resulted from the lane blockage.

This is an eight-month project, Lisle noted, so the level of activity is going to fluctuate, depending on what needs to get done during each phase of the rehabilitation.

The bridge,which carries about 22,000 vehicles a day, got its last major rehab in the early 1980s. The work, scheduled to end in January, will include replacement of supports for the steel girders, repair of the bridge joints and repainting of the bridge structures.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 30, 2009; 9:10 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Chain Bridge, DDOT, Dr. Gridlock, delays  
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