Levee construction starts in District

May 13, 2011

Work began this week on a new levee to protect much of downtown Washington from possible Potomac River flooding.

As the nation watches the flooding of the Mississippi River, work has started, according to the National Park Service, to permit quick construction of a temporary barrier across 17th Street NW if the Potomac threatens.

The street is being prepared in two stages to accommodate a “post and panel” emergency wall. While work is underway, the two northbound lanes of 17th Street are closed from Independence to Constitution avenues, confining traffic in both directions to the two southbound lanes. Then work will shift to the other side of the street.

Meanwhile, the impact on traffic for the 120 expected days of work is likely to be substantial, said Bill Line, a National Park Service spokesman.

Under the levee plan, the temporary 17th Street wall will link to walls and berms to be built on either side, with the aim of meeting new post-Katrina standards.

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