The Thing About the Bridges
Drivers are asking me if this is Inauguration Day II, with DC once again sealing off the Potomac bridges. I think that's a stretch, but the reason they're asking is that the District Department of Transportation chose to begin major rehab projects on two commuter bridges in a short stretch of time.
Compared to some other big jobs, such as the Wilson Bridge project, or the District's own rehabilitation of the Frederick Douglass Bridge, these two new ones didn't get too much of a drum roll of publicity leading up to them. Also, there wasn't much coordination with the other big player on these commuter routes, the Virginia Department of Transportation.
People at DDOT told me they thought they'd have time to adjust to traffic problems on the 14th Street Bridge project, and indeed, that one has been going pretty well for commuters in its first week.
But that's not the case with the Chain Bridge project, the sleeper part of late-spring construction launch. The closing of one lane on the three-lane bridge has rattled commuters this week. DDOT needs to adjust very quickly.
Lon Anderson, the AAA guy who speaks out on behalf of drivers, is outraged about the one-two punch the District has laid on Potomac River commuters. He noted today that there aren't that many options for getting across the river, and it's logical to expect that drivers worried about crossing at Chain Bridge or at the 14th Street Bridge are going to head for one of the alternatives in between: the Key, the Roosevelt or the Memorial.
"The bridges are all dominoes," he said. If drivers have several crossings to worry about, they're going to head for the other ones, and jam all the roads in between.
So to Anderson, the idea of doing these two bridge projects at once without some major outreach to help drivers feeds the notion of a DC war on commuters. (See Courtland Milloy's column.)
I don't believe the District has it in for suburban drivers. (Though the placement of some speed cameras and the city's inability to enforce no parking rules at rush hour makes me wonder.) But DDOT could go a long way to improving regional relations by dealing promptly with this mess at Chain Bridge and not simply telling drivers to seek alternative routes.
Ideas I've heard so far include changing the timing on the bridge's signal lights to adjust to the two rush periods, and making the bridge one way in the rush hour direction. What other ideas would you want to see considered?
June 3, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories: Congestion , Construction , Driving | Tags: 14th Street Bridge, Chain Bridge, commuter
Save & Share: Previous: Traffic Alert: Chain Bridge Construction Delays Possible
Next: Va. Transportation Secretary Offers Gloomy Forecast
Posted by: bergamot | June 3, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rrno62 | June 3, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mh53 | June 3, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thetan | June 4, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: thetan | June 4, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: KPLVA | June 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: antontuffnell | June 5, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.