Southeast Residents No Longer Contend with Noise, Heavy Traffic
District officials recently opened a new ramp on one of the busiest bridges in the city that will alleviate traffic congestion in communities east of the Anacostia River, much to the delight of area residents.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, along with D.C. Department of Transportation [DDOT] Director Terry Bellamy, Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Greta Fuller [8A03] and Anthony Muhammad [8A01], and James Bunn, the chairman of the Ward 8 Transportation Task Force, officially cut the ribbon on the ramp from southbound I-295 to the inbound 11th Street Bridge on Monday, July 30.
Gray, 69, said the opening of the access road is an important step in the revitalization of the Anacostia Waterfront area and the neighborhoods surrounding it.
"Under my administration, the DDOT is providing historic results for our residents through the 11th Street Bridge Project and the larger Anacostia Waterfront Initiative," the mayor said. "In opening this ramp, we are providing a direct connection between two major freeways that will significantly decrease commuter travel time, reduce traffic in local neighborhoods and foster revitalization and economic development on both sides of the Anacostia River."
The ramp allows a direct connection to the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and I-295. For decades, the lack of a direct connection forced travelers and commuters off each highway and onto neighboring streets in the city in order to access the other highway.
The former route disrupted neighborhood streets, particularly in the Anacostia section of Southeast, much to the chagrin of residents and civic and political leaders who complained about the noise and heavy traffic volume.
It's projected that the new route could cut 10 minutes off the trip of an average daily commuter and save approximately 43 hours a year for commuters.
DDOT officials estimate that 3,330 vehicles will use the new ramp during rush hour. Fuller, who represents the single-member district where the ramp is located, said she's thrilled about the latest developments.
"This should have been done years ago," she said. "My [constituents] will not have to leave home early in order to get to work. We also will not have to deal with commercial trucks and work utility vehicles coming through our streets."
Fuller, 50, said that the new ramp makes her area "a walkable community."
It's all about helping the Anacostia area, Bellamy said.
"Completing these missing freeway connections – and the benefits they provide – is a cornerstone of the 11st Street Bridge Project and a fundamental reason why it was the first major bridge and roadway project undertaken as part of DDOT's Anacostia Waterfront program," he said. "Infrastructure improvements are critical to making communities more livable and connecting them across the river."
The project is the largest in the history of DDOT, agency officials said, and one in a series of ventures included in the 30-year, $10-billion Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Program.
The second ramp, which connects the 11th Street Bridge to northbound I-295, is scheduled to open in the fall and work is being planned for the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.
Bunn could not contain his excitement about the ramp.
"I have been living here in Ward 8 for 42 years and this is great," he said. "A new day is here now and we have a new Ward 8."