- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

The road to relief might be in sight for drivers in Southeast, with a plan that also could help traffic in other parts of the District.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday announced the East Washington Project, a plan to relieve traffic on the John Phillip Sousa Bridge, which carries 90,000 vehicles a day.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has D.C. Council approval to build ramps to and from the 11th Street Bridge connecting traffic to Interstate 295.

Standing on the foot of the bridge, Mr. Williams told reporters that the plan will improve traffic across the city, including on Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues.

That even could help the mayor, who was about 30 minutes late to the press conference because he was stuck in traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue.

It also could improve the drive for commuters traveling home to Maryland and for baseball fans trying to get to RFK Stadium.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat, said getting highway traffic off the neighborhood streets and improving mobility are key to his Anacostia Waterfront Initiative.

“This will allow DDOT to return Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to two-way traffic,” Mr. Williams said. “It will become a local downtown main street.”

District Department of Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini called the plan a win-win scenario because it would reduce the number of highway miles and improve mobility.

“This is a proposal people east of the river are as excited about as those west of the river,” Mr. Tangherlini said.

The project is estimated to cost $250 million over five years.

The District plans to go ahead using primarily local funds. It will be financed by dedicating half the proceeds of the off-street parking tax charged to vehicles that park primarily downtown. Some federal funds also would be used.

An environmental analysis will begin this summer, and groundbreaking could come as early as this fall.

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