- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

A three-year, $34 million project widening New York Avenue is complete, D.C. officials announced yesterday, and will ease traffic, improve emergency preparedness efforts and enhance economic opportunities.
"It will give people a better image of the city not one of getting stuck in traffic," Mayor Anthony A. Williams said. "It is another step in restoring D.C. and lowering stress levels."
Since September 11, the District has been trying to improve transportation coordination with neighboring jurisdictions in case of emergency, the mayor said. Traffic was gridlocked for hours as commuters tried to leave the city after the terrorist attacks.
"We're all connected in roadways, in emergency preparedness," he said.
The project is part of an initiative to improve New York Avenue, one of the most heavily used routes into the District. Each day, more than 120,000 motorists use the artery.
Yesterday, a slew of D.C., Maryland and federal officials were on hand to dedicate the two new lanes on New York Avenue NE, part of a project to widen the bridges over South Dakota Avenue NE.
After years of delays, the four-lane highway now has three inbound lanes and three outbound lanes. Construction crews are expected to vacate by the end of this week.
It was a long time coming. A decade ago, the city was nearly bankrupt and couldn't meet its 20 percent match for federal dollars to improve roads. Now, city officials boast about the 1,500 roads that have been paved in the past few years and say pothole fill-in times have dropped from nine days to three.
"The completion of this project illustrates how far D.C. transportation has come," Mr. Williams said.
Officials say improvements to New York Avenue will have tangible results.
"I can think of no road more important to economic development," said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting representative in Congress. "The widening of the road strengthens the economy of the District."
It will be easier for those coming in to spend "retail dollars," said Dan Tangherlini, acting director for the District's transportation department.
The city hopes to lure retailers such as Costco, Giant, Home Depot and Kmart into Northeast in coming years.
The D.C. Transportation Division began planning the project in the late 1980s, and building began 10 years later.
But traffic, Amtrak trains and limited working hours drove up the cost and pushed back the completion date.
The project, estimated at slightly more than $20 million and two years, grew by one-third. Eighty percent of the funding came from the federal government.
Motorists who travel New York Avenue to Route 50 into Maryland still will encounter construction as a yearlong project to convert seven miles of the shoulder into an HOV lane continues.

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