Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Anacostia Bridge - 2 Months of Unnecessary Inconvenience

Art of War Concept: With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up

I’m sure you all have noticed the progress being made on the new bridges being built across the Anacostia River. This is pretty exciting because all the morning cut-through traffic in the downtown Anacostia area will soon come to an end and Anacostia will have its own local bridge that will allow us to drive, walk and/or bike across the river.   In addition, the new bridges will allow Maryland and VA commuters to get to downtown DC without using Good Hope Rd or MLK Ave.

The good news of progress is almost always accompanied with a little not so good news.   DDOT has plans to close the 13th Street ramp before the new 11th Street bridge is completed. This was not the original plan DDOT proposed to the community years ago when first informing us of the new bridge. The new proposal closes the 13th Street Ramp on March 1, 2012, months before the 11th Street Bridge is completed—summer of 2012.

The reason for the change is because the bridge construction was a Design-Build project. This means, as sections of the bridge are built the design may change a little. What has changed was the portion over the 13th Street ramp. If you were to drive up the 13th St ramp and look to the left and right, notice the bridge is not connected. The only way to complete this section is to close off traffic on the ramp.

You are probably wondering, what does this mean for me? If you live in Fairlawn, Anacostia, Hillsdale and other greater Anacostia neighborhoods, for at least 2 months, you will have to find an alternative route to leave the neighborhood. These routes include:
·         To Suitland Parkway or Howard Rd to access the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
·         To Malcolm X Ave at MLK Jr. Ave to north or southbound 295
·         To Pennsylvania Ave to access the Sousa Bridge
Traffic studies estimate that it will take 12 minutes to leave the neighborhood-apparently only Anacostia residents will be affected by this change.  Residents on the other side of the river will be fine.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m very disappointed in this proposal. As usual, the underlying reason for this change is MONEYIf the bridge is completed earlier, all parties involved get a monetary bonus.  This includes the construction company, the District and the contractors. In return, Anacostia residents get inconvenienced for 2 months. Get this, in a recent meeting, even the contractors advising residents of the bridge stated they would not be in favor of this proposal if they were living East of the River.

To my understanding if residents speak up enough, there might be a possibility to put forth for a new proposal. One that would include keeping the 13th bridge open until the 11th St bridge is completed. Today, I wrote the following email to Mr. Terry Bellamy, Director of DDOT.

Dear Mr. Bellamy,
My name is Charles Wilson, a resident of Historic Anacostia. Recently I learned that DDOT plans to close access to the 13th Street Ramp prior to the opening of the 11th St bridge. This will force me and other neighbors to find an alternative route out of Anacosita. As you can imagine, my neighbors and I are very disappointed in this proposal. We hope that DDOT will reconsider and keep the 13th Bridge open until the 11th St Bridge is completed.

If you are in agreement, feel free to copy and paste my email or send one of your own to Mr Terry Bellamy at Terry.Bellamy@dc.gov

Soon the 13th Street Ramp will be closed. You
will have to find another way out of the neighborhood for 2 months.

If you look in the distance, you can see the
disconnected sections of the bridge overpass

The Mayor and other City Officials at the grand opening of
the new bridges. More changes are coming...



  1. 695 is what they're calling the new stretch of highway that connects 295 and 395 I believe.

  2. In addition to emailing the Director of DDOT, should we also be emailing our local Council Reps and the Mayor's office? This seems to also have political consequences and I would like to hear local leaders justify why they believe this is a prudent measure.

  3. I-695 is what the Federal Highway Adminisration calls the SE-SW Freeway.

  4. I understand that in order to complete the connection between southbound 295 and the inbound bridge, the 13th street ramp is in the way. What I thought would be a good proposal, though, would be to route Anacostia traffic to Cap Hill via the old outbound bridge since it won’t be in use anymore after next week. That way we could turn up MLK by DHCD, get on the new bridge connection to get to the old bridge, then land at the foot of the old ramp on the other side. All DDOT has to do is make 11th street two-way.