D.C. transportation projects to watch in 2014

South Capitol Street Cordidor Project
The South Capitol Street corridor project, in planning this year, will create traffic ovals at both ends of the rebuilt Douglass Bridge, like the one seen here near Nationals Park. (Artist’s rendering courtesy of DDOT)

The District’s high-impact transportation projects for this year include the start-up of the region’s first modern streetcar, the opening of the M Street NW bike lane and the uncorking — we hope — of a bottleneck on the inbound 11th Street Bridge. But many other projects and programs continue to develop in 2014. Here’s an overview.

South Capitol Street project. The Douglass Bridge over the Anacostia River is going to be replaced and South Capitol Street will be transformed into an urban boulevard. DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders said a construction contract should be let during 2014. The first phase of construction is scheduled to start in in 2015.

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail segment. The trail’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment is scheduled to start construction in the first quarter of 2014 and take about 20 months to complete. This four-mile stretch will connect Benning Road in the District with the waterfront park in Bladensburg, Prince George’s County. It’s a missing link in a 60-mile regional trail network, and could help make bike commuting easier.

Rhode Island Avenue pedestrian bridge. Red Line riders get the best view of this project as they pass through the Rhode Island Avenue station. A pedestrian bridge is now under construction and scheduled to be done early this year. It will create a safe, direct link between the Metro station and the Metropolitan Branch Trail, as well as providing easier access to the community for people with disabilities, Sanders said.

CSX/Virginia Avenue. CSX has requested that the District Department of Transportation allow the temporary closing of the Southeast Freeway/I-695 ramp on Eighth Street SE create space for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction project. This request will also require approval by the Federal Highway Administration. DDOT is  working with the FHWA to prepare an environmental impact statement on the reconstruction of the rail tunnel.

Long Bridge project. Another rail project in the planning stages is reconstruction of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River. The two-track bridge, built a century ago, is the one used by CSX, Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express. The span parallels the 14th Street Bridge used by motorists. Besides being old, the Long Bridge is inadequate for this century’s needs. DDOT is working with the Federal Railroad Administration to complete a study of several possibilities for reconstruction. A replacement could handle high-speed, intercity passenger rail; commuter rail; transit; bike and pedestrian; and freight.

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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