D.C. preparing to open new highway link

December 18, 2012

The outbound ramp, shown in blue, will lead drivers from the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to D.C. 295 North. (DDOT map)

[This post has been updated.]

To prepare for the opening of the new ramp from the 11th Street Bridge to D.C. 295 North, the District Department of Transportation plans to close lanes overnight on the eastbound Southeast-Southwest Freeway leading to the bridge’s outbound freeway span. This is the route that will take drivers to the long-awaited ramp.

From 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday, watch for alternating lane closings on the freeway. Drivers may encounter temporary traffic stoppages between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

When the work is done Wednesday morning, the District will have reached a very significant milestone in the reconstruction of the bridge. Commuters will have direct links between the freeways on either side of the Anacostia River, something they’ve dreamed of for decades.

To reach the new ramp, stay right while driving across the outbound freeway span. The ramp from D.C. 295 South onto the 11th Street Bridge’s inbound freeway span opened over the summer.

Paving at Pennsylvania Avenue ramp

Any regular commuter along this route knows immediately the practical significance of opening the new ramp: Outbound drivers won’t have to get off the Southeast Freeway, get onto Pennsylvania Avenue, go over the Sousa Bridge and make that nasty left turn at the traffic light to reach the ramp to D.C. 295 North.

On Thursday, drivers may notice some work on that ramp, but this is paving job, and it will reopen when the work is done. DDOT plans to close the ramp from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. During the closing, traffic will be detoured from Pennsylvania Avenue north onto Minnesota Avenue SE to Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, where drivers will make a left, then a right onto northbound D.C. 295.

This is scheduled for daytime because it’s late in the construction season and the District wants to take advantage of the relatively warm daylight hours for the paving. The goal is to substantially finish the improvement project for the Pennsylvania Avenue interchange before winter sets in.

DDOT is rebuilding the ramp from Pennsylvania Avenue to make the D.C. 295 North merge safer. The work includes widening the ramp and replacing overhead signs, lighting and pavement markings on the Sousa Bridge. But most freeway drivers will be better off taking the new ramp from the 11th Street Bridge.

Local span

[2 p.m. update: DDOT issued an advisory with a new date for this work.]

Meanwhile, work continues on the 11th Street Bridge’s third new span, the one for local, rather than freeway, traffic. After the morning rush on Wednesday Dec. 26, DDOT plans to reduce the local span to one inbound and one outbound lane to complete work on the bridge deck. The lane reduction will remain till mid-January. When the work is done, the bridge will reopen with two lanes in each direction. There will be a 16-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path that connects with the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

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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