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11th Street Bridge Will Connect The District

12/29/2011, 4:21 p.m.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray led local and federal leaders in the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week to celebrate the completion of the new 11th Street Bridge. Calling the $300 million project a "vital linkage between east and west," the mayor said the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) project is the largest construction venture ever undertaken by the agency.

"Just two years after construction began, we have already arrived at this important juncture," Mayor Gray said. "Critical for connecting one city across the Anacostia River, these new spans will serve our residents, workers and visitors for decades to come."

The DDOT began construction on the 11th Street Bridge Project in December 2009 with the expressed goal to replace two existing bridges with three new bridges. The goal also included improving the related interchanges. DDOT officials said the current bridges are functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. Nearly 400 workers are working on the project each day, including many District residents.

"Infrastructure projects like this across the nation create jobs," said Christopher Lawson, Federal Highway Administration District of Columbia Division Administrator. "Connecting communities, investing in the nation's infrastructure, and allowing the motorists to travel safely and not have to suffer with all of the congestion that goes on--so, this project is very significant in those respects."

Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, DDOT Director Terry Bellamy and others attending the ceremony touted the District's use of a new "design-build-to-budget" delivery mechanism that reportedly saved millions on the project.

"DDOT set a fixed price and delivery deadline, described the project and asked the industry to supply the scope," said Rachel Luncheford, a project manager for construction management company HNTB.

"We asked bidders to look at our goals and propose how they could best achieve these goals within the available budget," Luncheford said. HNTB said it introduced DDOT to the design-build-to-budget procurement approach which officials said maximized available financing, getting as much as 80 percent of the project for 60 percent of the cost. A joint venture of Skanska USA Civil of Alexandria, Va. and Facchina Construction of La Plata, Md. was awarded the construction contract in August 2009.

Crews shifted traffic to the new inbound freeway bridge last weekend with work scheduled to be completed in time for Monday rush hour. If all goes according to plan, the new outbound freeway bridge is scheduled to be open to traffic next week. A third bridge for local traffic--connection Anacostia to Capitol Hill--is still under construction. It is scheduled to be completed next summer. The local bridge features a shared path for pedestrians and bicyclists and space for streetcar rails for future connectivity.

The closure of the existing inbound bridge will allow workers to complete two connections to 295 that are missing from the current 11th Street Bridge: a ramp connecting outbound traffic on the bridge to northbound 295, and a ramp leading from southbound 295 to the inbound bridge. Both ramps are scheduled to open during the summer of 2012.

Authorities said the exiting outbound 11th Street Bridge will continue to be used for local traffic headed into Anacostia, until the new local bridge is completed in 2012.

Two detours provide motorists access to Anacostia from the SE/SW Freeway: they can continue on the new outbound freeway bridge to southbound I-295 and exit at Howard Road, or take 6th Street exit off the SE/SW Freeway. Go straight on Virginia Avenue, right on 8th Street to M Street, left on M and then right on 11th street to access the outbound bridge.

Besides serving as a vital link across the Anacostia River, the separate inbound and outbound bridges are projected to serve nearly 180,000 vehicles per day by 2030.