Bridge in Rock Creek Park reopens to traffic

The District Department of Transportation has reopened the Kalmia Road Bridge after a six-month reconstruction.

It may be a small segment of roadway hidden in Rock Creek Park, but when open, it serves as an important east-west link for more than 16,000 drivers a day. The bridge is in the northern part of the District, a few blocks west of 16th Street NW. It connects East Beach Drive with West Beach Drive.

Problems began in 2009, when a portion of the culvert beyond the roadway partially collapsed. While the road itself was still deemed safe to use, the deterioration continued, and in September 2013, DDOT narrowed the travel lanes. Then in October, the roadway was closed to traffic so a $2 million replacement project could begin.

The new, larger bridge allows more water to pass underneath, reducing overflow during heavy rainfalls, said DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders. It has an additional westbound lane and a wider pedestrian path.

Many of the region’s road projects were slowed by the severity of the winter weather and early spring rains. Sanders said the Kalmia Road project benefited from using a “quick bridge” construction method, in which big pieces of the structure were assembled elsewhere, then trucked to the creek for installation over the Fenwick Branch of Rock Creek.

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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