(for maps, photos and renderings, scroll down)
For a project with such major impact on Anacostia and at extreme cost to the city, the 11th Street Bridges project has been very much under the radar and hidden from the public. I attended the ANC 8A meeting last night (1st Tuesday of each month), where some concerned citizens from Capitol Hill presented on the impacts of the "Preferred Alternative" selected by DDOT for the reconstruction of the 11th street bridges.
Anacostia residents and workers currently enjoy Extremely easy access to 395, downtown DC, and Virginia from our local onramp on 13th Street and Good Hope. And while highway access isn't something I would always promote, it is one of the features of our neighborhood that attracted me. I can drive to the capitol in less than 5 minutes. I can get to Arlington and Alexandria in about 10. It's that easy.
However, the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction will probably change all that. I don't have a clearly defined position on this yet, but my first instinct is to want to protect that accessibility. Anacostia already has enough setbacks and separations from the rest of the city and region --why eliminate even more? On the other hand, the preferred alternative will turn one of the bridges into a "local bridge", essentially forcing us to cross over into Capitol Hill and then get on the highway from there. The other bridge will be strictly for highway users. (see pictures) Another benefit to this plan will be that there will be an exit to the local bridge from 295, making it much easier to access our neighborhood from points south.
Click to Enlarge
They really should have used a real picture of Anacostia Gateway. Their fake rendering is hideous!
This is what it actually looks like
Here is the thing that annoys me the most: this is 2007. This is not 1960. In 1960 American planners slapped highways in the middle of cities, segmented neighborhoods, and did away with pedestrian connectivity and public transportation all in the name of progress. The problem? Turned out that that was a huge mistake and that everything that they eliminated was actually what made cities vibrant and attractive.
What are we doing building more highways in the sky in 2007? Why can't OUR side of the river get the same kind of redo as the Frederick Douglas Bridge got near the new baseball stadium? They wanted to make it more attractive: they reconstructed the boulevard and made everything look less highway-like. I'm not against making the highways more efficient, but let's Please do it in an attractive way that does not further segregate Anacostia.
11th Street Bridges website
Make your voices heard: public comment closes at the end of the month!
images courtesy of DDOT, photo by DG-rad