New Capitol Hill ramp to expand freeway access

November 26, 2012

The 11th Street Bridge project has been reshaping a portion of the Southeast Freeway near Capitol Hill. (Robert Thomson/The Washington Post)

The District on Monday announced several significant changes in the traffic patterns along the Anacostia riverfront starting this week.

A new ramp connecting 11th Street SE with the westbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway is scheduled to open Thursday. Drivers on Capitol Hill can use this for easier access from local streets onto the freeway. It will also provide more direct access to the freeway for Anacostia residents who use the local span of the 11th Street Bridge. And it should help the traffic leaving the Navy Yard in the evening.

The second change is important to commuters who take D.C. 295 South to Pennsylvania Avenue, cross the river and pick up the Southeast-Southwest Freeway heading west.

After the morning rush Thursday, the District Department of Transportation will close the westbound Southeast Freeway between Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street SE. This segment will stay closed for 18 to 20 months while workers raise the roadway and convert it into a boulevard, more connected with the neighborhood than the sunken freeway is.

Commuters affected by the closing should continue on D.C. 295 South to the inbound freeway span of the 11th Street Bridge. That will lead them to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and I-395. In fact, this should be an easier route for them than their original one.

Around the beginning of the new year, the eastbound lanes in the work zone also will be closed for the boulevard construction.

All these changes are part of the District’s program to redevelop the Anacostia riverfront. For travelers, the biggest element of the program is the reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridge, which has created two freeway spans and a local span. All three spans are open to traffic, but the connecting ramps that will make them fully functional have been opening gradually.

During my online chat Monday, travelers asked about an opening date for one of those ramps, the one that will take drivers from the outbound freeway span to northbound D.C. 295. We expected that to be around Thanksgiving, but DDOT has not announced an exact date. It’s close, though, and should come in several weeks.

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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Robert Thomson · November 26, 2012