Transit Tuesdays: 11th Street Bridge Project freeways may open in 10 days

The future of transportation. (Photo: DDOT)

The District Department of Transportation announced yesterday via Twitter that the city will soon open two freeways of the 11th Street Bridge Project — potentially as soon as the weekend of Dec. 16. This is good news and confirms that the project's progress is on schedule. In January of 2011, DDOT spoke of "anticipation of opening both new freeway bridges by the end of the year," and here we are, right on time.

Long unfinished ramp hanging mid-air is the missing connection btwn 11th St Bdge & NB 295 (coming in '12) http://t.co/lZJhy8tf
Dec 05 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

DDOT provided several aerial photos of the $300 million project, set to reinvent the 295 corridor that stretches across the Anacostia River, on mid-Monday afternoon, and at the questioning of Post reporter Mike DeBonis, revealed the incredibly close date of the 16th (now a mere 10 days away) as an optimistic possibility for opening the freeway bridges. Even progress with the local bridge (the greenish one in the images), DDOT says, is ahead of schedule and will hopefully be ready to debut by spring or summer of 2012. This local bridge will, I'm happy to note, contain a path specifically for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Park Police took the photo above as well as several others on Sunday, Dec. 4. All the photos are now visible on DDOT's flickr page.

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The 11th Street Bridge project is the biggest DDOT has ever embarked on and began back in December of 2009 and is scheduled to continue through mid-2013. The existing bridges, built decades ago, had been deemed "functionally deficient and structurally obsolete." A little drama erupted earlier this fall when people learned that streetcar tracks wouldn't be added to the new local bridge, after all, despite promises to the contrary (although space would be left to add them later). Despite that setback, it's still heartening to see the project move forward.

About 20 years from now, these bridges are expected to serve 180,000 vehicles a day, so establishing strong and good infrastructure now strikes me as vital. Bravo to DDOT for continuing such a monumental project and staying on schedule. Smart city and transportation planning requires that sustained commitment over the years, and it's never entirely easy. DDOT has acknowledged that more than 100 meetings alone have been devoted to the project. Then there's the magnitude of the construction effort itself. U.S. Department of Transportation Ray LaHood has called the projects one of the most important happening in America, Politic365 reported earlier this fall, and said: "This is a magnificent project, it’s a complicated project. It’s the kind of project that America has been known for decades, whether it’s the bridge over the Hoover Dam, or the Hoover Dam or the Panama Canal."

Elsewhere in the realms of transportation, urbanism, and real estate...

Snobby elitist cyclists run amuck: Will Doig makes the case that America's bicyclists need to perform a gut check and deal with their image problem. He points to their attitude and the strong reaction against cyclists in a piece that, all things considered, manages to come off rather thoughtful. The writer calls for a new perspective: "We demand bike lanes in gentrifying neighborhoods, but don’t seem to care if they ever reach the slums. Inconsiderate riding is overhyped by the press, but it also really happens more often than we’d like to admit."

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47 new EV charging stations come to the D.C. metro region: The first ones opened at the Pentagon City Fashion Centre last Friday.

Montgomery County wants to fine drivers who pass stopped school buses: "Passing school buses is considered probably one of the most serious violations, next to drunken driving and reckless driving," The Examiner reports an advocate of the new fine saying, "and there's never enough officers on the road to follow all the buses."

Nothing says a party like real estate and the Internet: As real estate and the Internet weren't thrilling enough on their own, they'll be coming together in a new web portal called Popularise, which launches this coming Friday, says Lydia DePillis.

Here comes the environment assessment for Rock Creek Park: The National Park Service presents the document for your comment. I love that it's simply called "Rock.pdf." Look forward to 357 pages of park and transportation wonder right there.

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Affordable gas now!: A coalition has risen up to promote D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh's legislation targeting gas station mogul Joe Mamo.

Yet is cheap gas ever really the goal? Taking a much broader look beyond the Mamos of the world, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson questions whether we should really cheer over the cheaper gas prices recently announced. "This is reason to celebrate, if you're looking at the pump. Not so much if you're looking at the world economy."

The Watergate office is for sale ... yes, the office: I swear, the old complex hasn't been in the news so much since the 1970s. First the news about the Safeway closing last week and now this real-estate tidbit, courtesy of the Post.

Should drivers leave their cars unlocked to avoid getting their windows broken? A reader asks Prince of Petworth: "While I’m not entirely comfortable with that approach, I wonder if your readers have an opinion on leaving the doors unlocked and using perhaps a Club locked to the steering wheel to prevent someone from driving off with it. Is that completely ridiculous, or would it help keep my windows & car safely as is?"

Read more daily transportation news at TBD On Foot.

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