COMMUTE

11th St. Bridge: Extra lane could improve morning commute

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(WJLA) - Drivers who use the 11th Street Bridge can breathe a sigh of relief. A new in-bound section will open Friday morning that will result in a more efficient morning commute.

Thanks to recent road construction, taking northbound and southbound 295 or crossing the 11th Street Bridge to access I-695 during the morning rush has been a big hot mess.

Driver Chaunte Rickard said, “This morning's commute was absolutely the most dreadful experience ever. That's typically everyday on 295 though.”

The back-ups are caused by a bottleneck on the bridge, where drivers traveling into downtown D.C. must merge from four lanes of traffic into two.

Driver Willie Battle said, “They definitely need to open up the bridge wider. I've been going over this bridge for years.”

Fortunately, DDOT is opening a new in-bound span that is three lanes wide. The old span will be permanently closed and eventually demolished.

This change is not a cure-all for traffic congestion, but it should help.

DDOT Deputy Chief Engineer Ravindra Gandir said, “This [new span] will increase the capacity by about 50 percent and people will see a significant benefit in terms of the condition that we are experiencing.”

To complete the traffic switch, crews will shut down the westbound I-695 ramp to M street, starting at 10 p.m. Thursday. Overnight, drivers will be detoured to the adjacent 11th Street local bridge. The new freeway bridge should open by 5 a.m.

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