MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today, we are heading out in the cold. Coming up in just a bit, we'll talk about shelter and why plans for one particular shelter in Anacostia have some residents up in arms. And speaking of Anacostia, if you commute that way by car, you've no doubt seen a whole lot of construction around there. It's the building of the new 11th Street bridge.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
D.C.'s biggest infrastructure project in decades. And that new bridge is actually three bridges, all constructed in between the two spans of the old bridge. This past Saturday, the city opened another portion of the bridge to traffic headed East across the Anacostia River and that is the topic of our regular transportation segment, "From A to B."
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Jonathan Wilson wanted to find out what comes next and what kind of an impact the District Department of Transportation hopes the new bridge will have. So he headed out to the middle of all that construction with DDOT's John Lyle.
MR. JOHN LYLE
We're standing on the new outbound freeway bridge. And right next to us on that side is the new inbound freeway bridge that opened in December. This bridge just opened last weekend.
MR. JONATHAN WILSON
In terms of the size of the project, I think this is pretty unprecedented, at least, in recent years for the District. Can you talk about how this compares, I mean, and how big of a deal this is for the city?
You know, we're about to come up on our 10-year anniversary as an independent agency at DDOT. And certainly, during that decade, this is the largest project we've ever done. $300 million in the phase one of the project, they'll be some additional work in a second phase. So it's the largest project -- infrastructure project we've ever done at DDOT. It's also the first complete river bridge replacement in approximately 40 years in the District. So it's a huge project, it's something that needed to be done because the existing bridges -- the two existing bridges have really out lived their useful life.
And they need to be replaced and we're going to replace them with three completely new bridges, two freeway bridges and one local bridge for local traffic. There are going to be, when this project is done, there are going to be ramps that will take you from the outbound bridge to Northbound D.C. 295, also from Southbound 295 to the inbound bridge. And those are movements that you just cannot make today and so that's going to be a huge improvement. A lot of that traffic that uses the neighborhoods to make those movements now is going to be taken out of the neighborhoods. And so we think it's going to be a big improvement for commuters and for residents.
Obviously, a lot of people I know -- the local bridge is not quite finished yet, but a lot of people think that this is going to be a transformative project for the Anacostia region and connecting it to downtown.
Well, I tell you what, for us, this is one piece of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, which is, there are a number of projects that, not just within DDOT, but at DDOT this project is one them. The replacement of the Frederick Douglass Bridge, the planned replacement over the next few years is another one.
And the Anacostia River Walk Trail, which is under construction now, is about 20 miles of trail in the district on both sides of the river. So what we are doing is part of a larger plan within the district to really draw people back to the river, clean up the river, promote economic development along the river and to make this a place that people want to live, work, play. You know, the bridges, the infrastructure projects are just a piece of that.
It feels like the District Department of Transportation is -- really sees itself as a catalyst. Is that fair to say?
Well, I think it's fair to say. And I think one of the things that we're trying to do now that may not have been done in the past when these types of bridges were built, I mean, if you look at the sidewalk on the old bridge, I mean, it's not very wide. And it was not intended for a lot of heavy pedestrian bike traffic. What we're trying to do with these projects, these days, is to include those types of things that can be used by people who aren't driving.
So the new local bridge is not only going to carry local traffic vehicles across the bridge in both directions but it's also going to include a shared use path for bicyclists and pedestrians. It's also going to have -- it's going to be street car ready so that we could add future transit if we decide to. So it's going to be used for transportation a lot more ways than just driving.
Let's talk about that local bridge a little bit more. So right now, we're looking kind of down on it. How does the local bridge differ from, you know, the highway bridge and talk a little bit more about those extra features in terms of trying to encourage different types of transit.
Well, you know, I sort of think about this bridge as kind of just a neighborhood street that happens to cross a river. Because right now, all the traffic that goes to and from Anacostia goes across these freeway bridges. But instead, you're going to have a -- this local bridge is really going to be a street that connects Anacostia with Capitol Hill and so -- and other neighborhoods on both sides of the river. And right now, you know, people aren't seeing the benefits of that bridge yet. But when it's completed, I think it's going to be transformative for the people who live on both sides of the river.
That was John Lyle of the D.C. Department of Transportation, talking with WAMU's Jonathan Wilson. Do you have a transportation story you'd like us to cover on the show? Just zip us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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