Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The 11th Street Bridges Project

(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

Preferred Alternative

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


IMGoph said...

i hear you on the highway thing. i used to be a highway aficionado, but i realized the damage they do to cities. that said, the issue with this highway is that it's become so ingrained into how things are transported through this area, it would be really really difficult to remove it.

this issue with connectivity between the highway parts on either side of the anacostia could have been solved had the barney circle freeway been built. see information here and here as well.

that would have ensured that the eastern part of capitol hill would be forever severed from the river. now, there's the likelihood that the freeway east of the bridges will be eliminated, reconnecting that neighborhood with the river.

unfortunately, capitol hill's gain is anacostia's loss. with a zero-sum game like this, that's bound to happen, and it's a shame that your neighborhood lacks the political heft to keep this from happening.

Anonymous said...

what a shame...and yes, we do not "neighborhood lacks the political heft to keep this from happening".

aside from leaving comments on the website, is there anything else we can do? any other discussion of note, from yesterday's meeting?


Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

Why nothing to truly improve connectivity- cap (lid) the freeway?

Any why all of this *generalized* anti urban highway sentiment? The railroads do a nice job of splitting cities to.

IMGoph said...

they all do a good job of splitting cities. it would be great if they could bury the freeway, but after the price fiasco of the big dig, the entire country will wait a long time before it's willing to pony up the cash for a project of that complexity, size, and price

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

The Big Dig involved far higher amounts of construction complexity, e.g. utilities relocation, along with molasses like soil conditions for the I-90 connector beneath Gillette inlet, then staging a cut and cover reconstruction of the Anacostia Freeway. Why then out of hand reject any subway projects that would handle vehicular traffic?

Accomplishing the same on the other side of the Anacostia Freeway is even far simpler (using the existing roadbed), thanks to the favorable geometry, via building a cap over the eastern SE Freeway and its logical extension to the Whitney Young East Capitol Bridge (essentially an extension of the Barney Circle structure. This makes the highway into a tunnel at its existing grade, and would work to place express traffic underground beneath a low speed waterfront park drive and pedestrian promenade.

David Garber said...

How can we turn this into a really big issue? Get Barry involved? I would Love to see this part of the highway buried, and truly connect Anacostia back to its waterfront / the rest of the city!

Anonymous said...

If you have ideas or concerns about how bridge projects are affecting the City, you can tell the Council in person next Friday. There is an oversight hearing about DC bridge projects to look into both the costs associated with overhauling the bridges and how the bridge plans fit in with DC's overall transportation strategy.

This is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in connectivity and other issues to be heard. You can sign up to testify or submit written comments. If you do testify, remember to bring copies of your testimony for the council members. If you can't testify, send an email to Councilmember Jim Graham who is holding the hearing:

Details on the hearing:



Agenda item:

"Major Bridge Construction Projects in the District"

- Neha Bhatt

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

Has anyone else asked why the rush to create a new elevated bermway to overpass a railroad that is officially envisioned to be removed?

And why does this new bermway bias the mainline to all cross to the south of the Anacostia River, rather hen split the burden by continuing the SE Freeway, and by handling these burdens by covering this highway. This in inexcusable.

This project bundles too many bad ideas to past muster.

KThrilla said...

I've grown up across the Sousa bridge at the intersection of Minnesota and Pennsylvania Avenue. During the evening rush hour, traffic is absolutely ridiculous!! It's been that way for years whether sitting on a bus trying to cross the bridge or driving dealing with traffic from the se freeway crossing the sousa bridge to make that pathetic left turn on 295 north. This construction is a blessing. I have been waiting for this construction for years and wondering what the heck was taking so long. People talk about pollution??? What about the thousands of cars burning gas going absolutely nowhere? All I know is once this construction is finished, I do not have to worry about long distance drivers holding up local traffic because it will for the most part all be on a freeway. It's ridiculous. I never understood why DC residents would rather suffer in traffic than do something about. And no one really talks about this, but DC is the main reason why the Washington DC Metropolitan area traffic is among the worst in the nation. DC has held this entire area back from moving forward. All I have to say is it is about time. People whined about the Barney Circle freeway, so here you go. By the way, Marion Barry recommended adding ramps to the 11th street bridge while opposing the Barney Circle freeway. I wish he would say something now.