Prepare for new delays on New York Avenue — for 2 years

Many technical terms that have to do with roadway construction could be employed to describe what will begin on New York Avenue on Monday, but the most accurate description is probably god-awful mess.

And it will last for two years.

Yes, New York Avenue, lined with burger joints, gas stations, motels, nightclubs and empty buildings, is a less than delightful commute already. The scenery is grim, and traffic is so congested that there is always plenty of time to drink in lots of ambience.

Come Monday, the opportunities to enhance one’s appreciation of the avenue’s beauty (much diminished since the hubcap shop burned down) will be greatly expanded by reconstruction of the bridge over the tracks that carry trains into Union Station.

The bridge will remain open, but six lanes will become four, and the District Department of Transportation says that drivers can expect delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

Since delays of 15 to 30 minutes are not the least bit uncommon on the avenue during rush hour, it’s safe to assume that things will become twice as bad as they already are.

Some say that various portions of the northeastern gateway into the nation’s capital have been under construction since the Eisenhower administration. Nobody knows for sure who will be president when this current project, just west of Florida Avenue, is completed in a couple of years.

If all 87,000 drivers who use the avenue each day just sit in traffic for a couple of hours, it may be a great place to campaign for those whose platform is “throw the bums out.”

Well aware that this means nothing but trouble, DDOT is ready to pay people to stay away. The first 2,000 commuters to apply will receive $50 a month on a Metro SmarTrip or other fare card. And, yes, you must have a driver’s license.

Commuters can sign up for construction tweets via Twitter (@NYAve411), though the most common and consistent tweet promises to be “fuhgeddaboudit.” Message boards will be posted along the way, most of them likely to be flashing, “Oh, noooooo!”

The traffic folks are suggesting alternate routes, but those who regularly ride New York Avenue would prefer they not be shared with the general public.

They include taking South Dakota Avenue to Rhode Island Avenue; DC 295 to Benning Road or East Capitol Street; West Virginia Avenue to Florida Avenue; or Montana Avenue to Rhode Island to North Capitol Street.

If all goes well, and the regulars take the bribe and the bailout routes and heed the tweets, only the tourists will be left to sit and curse their GPS devices.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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