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Construction beginning on new 11th St. bridges

river work.jpg
Crew dismantles bridge pier guard in Anacostia to make way for construction. (Thomson)

Drivers crossing the Anacostia River can see a big crane sitting on a barge between the 11th Street Bridges. Pretty soon, they'll see another one. The District Department of Transportation is going to begin building three new bridges between the two old ones.

For many drivers, this work will turn out to be the most significant improvement in their commuting lifetimes. The new bridges will forge the missing link that so vexes many commuters between Maryland, the District and Virginia. And it will create a new link between neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia, while relieving them of some of the commuter traffic that spills out onto local streets.

Greer Johnson Gillis.jpg Greer Johnson Gillis says new bridge will revitalize Anacostia River area. (Thomson)

Construction of the new bridges and removal of the old ones is scheduled to be done by late summer or fall of 2013. In the meantime, the project may remind drivers of what they experienced during the building of the new Wilson Bridge: They can continue to use the old bridges while the new ones are being built.

What to expect
Winter: Construction begins with pile driving in the river, off-road clearing, drainage work and building along DC 295, shoulder encroachments and slight lane shifts on 295. (The lanes still will be 12 feet wide.)

Spring-summer: Construction on M and O streets, continued work along 295, bridge construction in the river.

Bart Clark.jpg Bart Clark says construction's impact on traffic flow will be limited. (Thomson)

All this will have a limited effect on drivers. I asked Bart Clark, the bridge project manager for the District Department of Transportation if there would be times when construction would be so intense that the District would recommend commuters find alternative routes.

The first things that occurred to him were the traffic impacts we'd probably experience during the roadway paving in the project's latter stages.

There will be about a year and a half of work on the bridges before traffic patterns would need to be interrupted, he said during a press briefing Tuesday morning.

The result
It's not the form of the completed bridges that will provide the wow factor. The new structure will be bridge decks on top of river piers, just like the old ones. (It will look nicer.)

It's the function that will impress. Greer Johnson Gillis, the District's acting chief engineer, said it "has many of the movements that we were craving."

No longer will commuters need to get off a highway in the District to drive between, say, a job in Bowie and an office at the Pentagon. The new $300 million bridges, with their elaborate approaches and ramps, provide for all those movements, coming and going.

The project also will help revitalize the Anacostia River area, she said. It will separate the freeway traffic from the local traffic, incorporate bike lanes, walkways and streetcar tracks and link up with Anacostia River trails.

crain between bridges.jpg
Construction crane ready to start work in river between bridges.(Thomson)

By Robert Thomson  |  December 29, 2009; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Construction , Driving  | Tags: 11th Street Bridges, District Department of Transportation, Dr. Gridlock  
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Does this mean we can FINALLY get from the Freeway to 295 North in a quick and easy way?

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | December 30, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Yes. No more waiting at traffic lights, waiting in line to make a left turn across traffic, or making illegal maneuvers. This plans should fix the connection problems that date back a half century.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | December 30, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

A diagram/map of the construction would have been very helpful with this story.

Posted by: Mackie63 | December 30, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Mackie63, they took away my crayons. But I'm hoping that our news artists at The Post can do a map for The Post Commuter page of Jan. 17 when I'll elaborate on the bridge construction plan. (It's really complicated, but don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to get used to it before the thing opens in 2013.)

Posted by: Robert Thomson | December 30, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

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