Big project starting on Mass. Ave. and H Street, in heart of D.C. traffic

Drivers, bikers and pedestrians who use Massachusetts Avenue and H Street near the Third Street Tunnel are about to experience the first disruptions in a lengthy project that will put a deck over the tunnel and buildings over that.

This weird space has long been a difficult area for travelers. Drivers using the ramps in and out of the sunken roadway Interstate 395 meet up with heavy traffic moving east-west on the local streets. At the intersections, cyclists and pedestrians confront vast open spaces where vehicles come at them from many angles. You’d need the swivel head of an owl to monitor all the approaches.

Third Street Tunnel
The chasm on I-395 below Massachusetts Avenue will eventually be covered. (Robert Thomson – The Washington Post)

Pedestrians using the bridge that takes Massachusetts Avenue NW over I-395 look down on a Grand Canyon of concrete and asphalt. It’s an interesting view, but not a beautiful one, and since the interstate was built, it’s been one of the biggest wastes of space in the city. Over the next several years, that view will disappear as the deck is put in place and the buildings constructed for the Capitol Crossing development.

The road work phase starting this week will relocate utilities along Massachusetts Avenue and H Street between Second and Fourth streets and along Second and Third streets between E Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Often one of the most complex parts of road projects, the relocations will continue for about nine months. Workers will be present between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays and sometimes on Saturdays, the District Department of Transportation said.

Travelers will notice the removal of curbs and concrete islands. Workers will install temporary pedestrian walkways, ramps, streetlights and poles. Watch for special traffic control signs meant to guide travelers through this area, or to direct them to alternative routes.

The Georgetown University shuttle bus stop at Second and F streets will be moved to First and E streets NW. The Metrobus stops on H Street between Second and Third street will be eliminated.

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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