Friday, July 6, 2007

A major commuter route through the District is scheduled to close to traffic today for a two-month renovation.

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Anacostia River at South Capitol Street and is also known as the South Capitol Street Bridge, will be closed through most of the summer, leaving motorists to detour through the city.

The bridge is scheduled to reopen in late August or early September, said D.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Erik Linden.

Renovations include lowering a 200-foot section of the bridge’s northern approach to create a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue and providing better access to and from new development on the Anacostia Waterfront. The bridge will also be repaved and painted.

The project is expected to cost $27 million, 80 percent of which is federal funding, Mr. Linden said.A replacement bridge is planned for the next 10 years, according to the transportation department.

City officials also plan additional improvements for the entire South Capitol Street corridor such as streetscape improvements, environmentally sensitive lighting, handicap ramps and new sidewalks.

During the renovation, the 11th Street bridges will serve as the main detour routes. Northbound drivers will be directed to follow signed detours to the Interstate 295/11th Street Bridge into the District.

Officials hope a new northbound travel lane on the stretch of I-295 between the Suitland Parkway and the 11th Street Bridge will ease congestion into the city during rush hours.

Southbound drivers will be detoured to the 11th Street Bridges via the Southeast Freeway and should expect delays due to increased traffic.

The morning commute could be 20 minutes longer, and afternoon commutes could be up to 30 minutes longer, according to transportation officials.

The transportation department recommends drivers take Metro and said commuter parking is available at RFK Stadium and at the Anacostia Metrorail station.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will be directed through Anacostia Park to the 11th Street bridges.

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