Pennsylvania Avenue SE upgrade partly done

Part of the District’s Pennsylvania Avenue SE rehabilitation project is wrapping up this week after two years, but another will continue into the spring.

By this weekend, the District Department of Transportation said today, all the major road work work should be complete between 27th Street and Alabama Avenue SE. Two lanes will be open for traffic in each direction and the traffic signals will be in full operation by Saturday.

The other part of the project, between Alabama Avenue and the D.C. line at Southern Avenue SE, won’t get its final asphalt surface and landscaping till spring. DDOT said the project encountered delays because workers needed to expand the replacement of aging utilities along the corridor and because the soil conditions in some areas were unfavorable.

Along that unfinished eastern portion of the project, drivers will have one lane in each direction. Once the work is done, there will be two lanes in each direction for the entire corridor.

Work hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most Mondays through Saturdays.

This is a major commuter route, and the construction has slowed many drivers. DDOT suggests two alternative routes for drivers who want to avoid the construction zone:Suitland Road to Alabama Avenue to Good Hope Road SE, or Massachusetts Avenue SE to Minnesota Avenue SE.

This $30 million Great Streets beautification and safety project covers almost the entire length of Pennsylvania Avenue east of the Anacostia River in the District. The work has included installation of a median, landscaping, utility upgrades, new curbs and gutters and paving. The original time estimate was about two years, and that’s about now.

A portion of the avenue was reduced from five to four lanes, with the extra space going to the landscaped median and turn pockets, intended to protect pedestrians and local traffic. Some enhancements have been made to improve the look of the commercial areas along the avenue.

The sidewalk is being extended on both sides of the street for the full length of the project. The traffic management system, including the signals, is being upgraded.

All the District’s Great Streets projects, like the one travelers see on H Street/Benning Road NE, are a combination of transportation improvements and economic development and beautification projects.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.

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