The 11th Street bridge now consists of three spans, two that primarily serve long-distance travelers and a third designed mainly to handle local traffic. Around the end of the month, two new ramps are scheduled to open, creating new connections with the local bridge.
One ramp will lead drivers from southbound D.C. 295 along a curvy ramp up to a traffic signal on the local span, the southernmost of the three. From the traffic signal, drivers will be able to turn right and cross the river toward Capitol Hill, or turn left toward the Anacostia neighborhood.
The other ramp will take drivers from that local bridge intersection onto northbound D.C. 295. Use caution merging with other drivers coming north on the freeway or coming in from the 11th Street bridge’s outbound freeway span. Note that the exit ramp for eastbound Pennsylvania Avenue will come up pretty quickly on the right side.
Completing local span
In late May or early June, project managers hope to put the local span in its final configuration. Right now, the span has two lanes heading toward the Capitol Hill side and one toward the Anacostia side. When complete, the span will have two lanes in each direction.
The span will have a 16-foot-wide sidewalk on the downstream side. Walkers and bikers will have access to several scenic overlooks under construction in the middle of the span.
When complete, this span really will be an “11th Street” bridge. A traveler could go from Florida Avenue near Gallaudet University past Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, where 11th Street picks up bike lanes, down across M Street SE by the Washington Navy Yard and across the local span to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Anacostia.
Some of the major changes in 2012 included the opening of ramps on the two freeway spans that allowed commuters to cross the Anacostia without leaving the District’s freeways. The project also opened a ramp connecting northbound Interstate 295, the highway south of the 11th Street bridge, to the intersection on the local span. That ramp was helpful for drivers coming up I-295 or Suitland Parkway and heading for their jobs at the Navy Yard.
But some drivers have expressed frustration with traffic congestion on and near the freeway spans. Part of the difficulty is getting used to the new approach pattern from south of the bridge and the new exit pattern to the north. But there’s also an issue on the inbound freeway span, construction manager Peter McDonough said.
Many drivers using the new ramp from southbound D.C. 295 onto the freeway span are heading for Interstate 395 toward downtown or the 14th Street bridge. They enter the span on the right side but need to reach the two left lanes, the through lanes for I-395. Those left lanes already are occupied by traffic coming in from northbound I-295, so the merge can be difficult at rush hour. (The right two lanes on the inbound span take drivers toward M Street and the Navy Yard.)