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192 Blog Posts Since 2003
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On Tuesday DDOT issued a press release with the latest roundup of news from the South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover. The project is still on time, and is still basking in the glow of last week's lowering of the remaining northern 200 feet of the span. They also have started working on the new "globe" street lights and the utility work along South Capitol Street. Up next? Quoting from the press release (so excuse the jargon): "Continue concrete deck repairs, utility work on South Capitol Street (D/B), form sleeper slab, continue setting and work of MSE wall panels, remove support/jacking towers from two column lines." Also, in addition to the time-lapse video of the lowering, they've posted some photos of the bridge work's progress. What a cool idea! (Hey, we kid because we love.)
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

DDOT has posted a time-lapse video of yesterday's lowering of the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and there's a link to it from this page with the press release on the lowering. If you want to study how it was done, my photos from the lowering don't go by quite so quickly (hee hee).
UPDATED: Here's a video clip on the lowering from WJLA.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

When I looked closely at the photos I took of the Douglass Bridge lowering yesterday around 5 pm, I thought that the hydraulic jacks looked like they didn't have much further to go--but everything DDOT had said indicated that the lowering was going to take 24 hours, at about two inches an hour, so I figured my layman's eyes just didn't understand what they were seeing. As it turns out, I was right--a press release just e-mailed out by DDOT (not yet online) says that the bridge lowering was completed about 90 minutes after I was there, having taken about 16 hours. (So they must have started around 2 am, not 8 am as I had thought.)
Watch for a time-lapse video of the lowering on the local newscasts later today, which of course I will link to. In the meantime, here's Dr. Gridlock's blog entry on the lowering.
I wonder if the rest of the work on the bridge and South Capitol Street will be completed in 60 percent of the time originally budgeted?
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Today is the day that the northernmost 200 feet of the Douglass Bridge (north of the Anacostia shoreline) is being lowered by as much as four feet so that the bridge's approach can begin/end at Potomac Ave. I've got some photos of the initial work this morning, but the photos aren't exactly action-packed, thanks to the lowering pace of two inches per hour. You can see the jacks in place and all the hubbub of work going on, as well as the new earth-fill ramp leading up to the bridge (which was a surprise for me, I didn't realize how far along the ramp already is).
I'm going to head back down this afternoon, when the light is better, and take some shots of the progress, so check back later in the day; I'll also be adding links to the media coverage as they pop up.
The lowering is scheduled to be completed late tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: Here's WTOP's piece.
UPDATE II: I went and got some seven-hours-later shots, which you can see side-by-side with the morning shots. It's of course nowhere near as dramatic as the befores-and-afters of the bridge's demolition last week, but you can tell a difference.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

The next big "moment" in the Douglass Bridge's Extreme Makeover is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday, June 19), and that's the lowering of the elevated northern approach of the bridge by just over four feet. According to today's media advisory from DDOT, this will happen veeeeeery slowly--"coming down by approximately two inches per hour"--and is expected to take 24 hours from start to finish. Starting at 8 am, crews will "cut" the bridge's support columns, and then the bridge deck will be supported and lowered by more than 35 hydraulic jacks, with four jacks at each support pier. If you want to get a feel for exactly what's going to happen, DDOT's video on the Douglass Bridge changes has an animation of the lowering at about the 4:20 mark.
Look for TV coverage of it all tomorrow; and I wouldn't be surprised if a certain blogger posts some visuals of it, too.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

From a DDOT press release entitled "Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Renovation on Schedule" (now online), a list of what's to come this week now that the demolishing is done: "Forming of new light poles, continuing the bridge deck repairs and the completion of the deck testing, utility work on South Capitol Street, setting of jack towers, [and] the lowering of the bridge of Thursday, July 19." Since it might be three or four whole days before I venture back down there for new pictures, you'll have to settle in the meantime for last week's shots and the Stadium Construction Webcam Camera #2.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Steve Eldridge, in his traffic column in the Examiner today, reports he has heard very few complaints from readers related to the Douglass Bridge closure and its spillover effects. "It seems like the city did a very good job at planning ahead for this event including the decision to do the work during the summer months, when traffic volumes are at their lows for the year. [...] I know that we give the District a hard time in this space, but this project seems to be something that has been well thought out and well executed ... at least so far." Dr. Gridlock in the Post wrote a lot about it in his Get There blog early last week, but hasn't covered it for a few days.
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

The demolition of the beams from the old Douglass Bridge viaduct along South Capitol Street north of Potomac continues apace today, and you can really "watch" it over the next few hours on Camera #2 of the Stadium Construction Webcam, which updates every 20 minutes or so. Just keep hitting the "View Most Recent Image" box under the calendar (and zoom in for a better view). I'm betting they'll be finished with the beams by the end of the day or tomorrow, and will have only the earth fill approach ramp north of P left. Then there'll be the cleanup and the work to create the new roadway over the next few weeks, but that won't be anywhere near as much fun to check out on the webcam as the demolition is..... (Plenty of other work will be happening out of the webcam's view, of course, such as the lowering of the portion of the bridge just north of the Anacostia shoreline and the building of the new ramp down to Potomac Ave.) And note that the concrete pillars you see in the ground in front of the bridge demolition are for the "knife-edge" Nationals office building that will be attached to the stadium. You can see the concrete already starting to be poured for the south point of the building. And the line of steel beams in front of the admin building construction are for the sloped promenade that will come from Potomac Avenue up to the stadium.
We do need to offer them a hankie to clean the lens, though!
UPDATE. 5:15 pm: The girders are now all gone--all that's left of the viaduct is the brick-lined ramp between O and P, and it won't last much longer, either. As fun as it is to sneak peeks of it on the webcam, I had hoped to have new photos of my own today--but the deluge during the stadium topping out dampened my enthusiasm for further picture taking. More pics soon, I promise.

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Removal of the steel girders along the old northern approach of the Douglass Bridge viaduct continues today, and that work has now come into view when looking at Camera #2 of the Nationals Stadium Construction Cam, starting with the 12:32 pm image. (And, for the fun of it, check out the 2:27 and 2:41 images for the Noah's Ark view of the site.) Dr. Gridlock's blog has another entry today about the traffic fallout from the bridge's closure. And of course my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page has my photos of the site, with more to come tomorrow. UPDATE: Another Dr. Gridlock post discusses the now-overflowing state of the Anacostia Metro station parking lot.

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Dr. Gridlock ventured into the first "real" morning commute since the closure of the Douglass Bridge, and gives his impressions on his Get There blog. As for the progress on the Extreme Makeover, Camera #2 of the Stadium Construction Cam shows that demolition of the road surface on the viaduct is just about finished, with only girders and their support columns still in place south of P Street. (Beware, the construction cam shot gets blinded out by the sun during late afternoon.) And if you're desperately refreshing my Makeover page hoping to see new photos, I don't anticipate posting a new batch until Wednesday afternoon.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

There's already not much left of the Douglass Bridge from Potomac Avenue southward, a mere three days into the Extreme Makeover. So of course I've posted photos (scroll down a bit). I was there when the big shears toppled one of the last beams standing south of Potomac Avenue, which was quite a sight. North of the viaduct, the South Capitol street bed is pretty much completely dug up, and they're working their way onto the raised portion at O Street. (No time to lose!) It should all be coming into better view on the Stadium Construction Webcam's Camera #2 tomorrow.
UPDATED with the correct link to the demolition photos. YEESH!
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Posts about the closing of the Douglass Bridge for its Extreme Makeover are SO five hours ago; now it's time to focus on what's actually happening down on South Capitol Street between N and Potomac Avenue. I ventured down to see what I could see, and have posted new photos of the scene today on my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page. Alas, no impressive displays of demolition just yet; work has started on breaking up the asphalt on the southbound side of South Capitol just north of O Street; as of a few hours ago, the surface of the viaduct had so many holes drilled in it that it looked like a fairway at Hains Point. The lightpoles are also now all gone from the bridge. Other than that, and the arrival of a whole lot of fences to surround the bridge worksite, it's not looking drastically different in the first 18 hours. (Faster! Faster! Demolish! Demolish!) But with work on two shifts covering 20 hours each day (according to news reports), changes should start to be apparent pretty soon.
One additional impact that stadium lookeeloos especially should be aware of--with 1st Street and Potomac Avenue now essentially being one long dead-end cul-de-sac south of N Street, it hasn't taken long for the heavy construction vehicles to just completely take over the street. So in addition to the stadium "circuit" being shut down now that you can't turn from Potomac north onto South Capitol, even trying to just follow 1st to Potomac with the intention of making a u-turn is life-threatening thanks to all of the huge trucks going in and out of there with now only one exit for their use . I fear that my photo sojourns on the south side of the stadium might be curtailed a bit until the bridge work is done. So, to make up for it, here's a fun new before-and-during of the stadium that I came up with today, on South Capitol south of N, showing the sharp stadium facade along South Capitol. Trust me, it's really the same location in both shots.
Don't expect new bridge demolition photos on a daily basis--I'll definitely make visits frequently, but I don't like construction that much.
As for how the commute went on the first morning of the shutdown, Dr. Gridlock has some initial impressions on his Get There blog.
UPDATE: Here's the roundup of "Bridge Closes, Commuters Angry" pieces: WJLA, NBC4, and WUSA; the Post, however, opts for "Closing's 1st Day Made Easier By Light Traffic" (but with a subhed of "Officials Warn of Worse Next Week").
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Let's get this party started: a few hours ago the Douglass Bridge closed for its extreme makeover, so the media stories will transition from yesterday's "it's closing" pieces to today's "it's closed" pieces, to be followed no doubt by the "how it went" stories later today and tomorrow. First out of the blocks is the Post's "Dead End at the Anacostia", which gives the basics of the project, details the various alternate routes, and has a graphic of the detours. WTOP has a piece as well, as do the Examiner and the Washington Times. And no doubt the local television news networks will have lots of updates from the bridge site throughout their morning and afternoon broadcasts (I'll wait to link to them until later today).
You might want to keep an eye on today's traffic reports, which here at the crack of dawn are already indicating a fun morning on the 11th Street Bridges thanks an accident that has two of the northbound lanes closed. (Alas, there are no traffic cameras showing the 11th Street area.)
If you want to try to get a glimpse of the demolition without venturing down to the site, you can look at this South Capitol-at-M traffic camera, which this morning is pointed southward and has a grainy view of the viaduct with what appears to be some construction action underway on the southbound side of the street (UPDATE: It's now pointing to the east; perhaps it'll just keep switching throughout the day). There's also the far right side of the Stadium Construction Webcam Camera #2 for the portion of the viaduct around P Street.
I'll no doubt be updating throughout the day (probably with pictures at some point as well), so keep checking back.

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

Enjoy your access to the South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge today, because that's it until August. As I've mentioned ad infinitum here, it's closing tonight (12:01 am Friday July 6) so that the portion of the viaduct north of Potomac Avenue can be demolished and the rest of the northern approach lowered so that the bridge comes to ground level at Potomac Avenue. Here's my page with the graphics, links and photos explaining it all. Dr. Gridlock addresses it today in his Get There blog, and there are short blurbs out today by WJLA and Fox 5. While the plans are for the bridge to be closed through the end of August, the contractor can receive up to $1 million in incentives by finishing sooner.
And we'll see what happens with tomorrow's rush hour; officials are warning commuters to add 30 minutes to their normal expected commute time while the bridge is closed. Feel free to send me your Day 1 traffic experience.
UPDATE: More stories in advance of the closure, from WTOP (which says that the contractors will be working 20-hour days), NBC 4, WUSA, and another reminder from DDOT.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

With less than a week to go now until early morning July 6, when the two-month closure of the Douglass Bridge to shorten and lower the bridge's northern portion begins, the media blitz is now getting underway. Here's the DDOT press release summarizing what's going to happen and what the impacts will be; it's a good link to e-mail around if you need to alert people to what's happening. The Post's Dr. Gridlock is mentioning the release and summarizing some of the other commuting impacts as well. One tidbit: they're telling people to expect morning delays of around 20 minutes, and afternoon rush delays of between 20 and 30 minutes.
My Douglass Bridge Fixes page has lots of links, drawings, and graphics explaining exactly what's going to be happening, and of course I will be there with camera in hand throughout the project to capture the changes. But while getting a new boulevard-like South Capitol Street is A Good Thing, I must take a minute to mourn what will be lost: three of my beloved perches where I've shot photos of the ballpark's progress over the past 15 months. (Though, it must be said, those spots would have lost their stadium view eventually anyway with the construction of the "knife-edge" Nationals administration building along South Capitol.)
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

Thanks to reader Barbara for the heads up that an electronic sign has appeared on South Capitol Street this morning saying that the Douglass Bridge is going to close at noon on July 5; at the briefing on the bridge's two-month closure and "Extreme Makeover" a few weeks ago, July 6 was announced as the date the bridge would close. I'm trying to find out if there has indeed been a change, and will update this post when I have details.
UPDATE: The bridge is closing at 12 midnight (not 12 noon), but at the end of the day July 5; in other words, the very start of July 6. Take your pick--think of it as closing at 11:59 pm on the 5th, or 12:01 am July 6.
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

The Post's Dr. Gridlock has a blog entry today about the Maryland Transit Administration's plans for how MTA commuter buses will be diverted during the two-month shutdown of the Frederick Douglass/South Capitol Street Bridge that begins on July 6. Quoting: "MTA says that after listening to passengers, it has decided to bring some of its routes into the Branch Avenue and Suitland Metrorail stations for those who wish to transfer to the subway, but continue in and out of dowtown Washington for the other riders willing to tough it out through the congestion. (The buses will be stuck in the same congestion as the cars.)" See the entry for specifics on each bus route. Metro's bus route changes were announced a few weeks ago. (And thanks for the link, Dr. G!)
More posts: Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

This morning DDOT had a big press briefing about the plans for the coming Douglass Bridge "Extreme Makeover"; there was a gaggle of media in attendance, so I imagine there will be lots of play on TV tonight and in tomorrow's papers, so in the interest of time (mine, not yours), I'm going to hit the high points right now and wait for the reports from the big players to roll in for additional detail.
*The bridge will be shut down on July 6 (after the July 4 holiday). As soon as it's closed, crews will be on site beginning the demolition of the viaduct from Potomac Avenue northward, using "big shears" (DDOT's description) to drop it down. At the same time, the existing South Capitol Street will be ripped up, with infrastsructure and utility work done, and with the streetscape improvements started as well, which will include new "globe" lighting, a median with trees, etc. (Incidentally, by spring 2008 there will also be some sprucing up of the M Street overpass, with the chainlink fences removed and new historic iron railings installed.)
* It is expected that the 580 feet of the bridge from the Anacostia River to Potomac Avenue will begin to be lowered on July 20. They are going to put jacks under the bridge, cut the existing columns, and then lower it down. They should sell tickets for this part.
* The bridge itself will see its roadway milled, and the existing rails and chainlink fences replaced with a new special fancier railing; this railing will be affixed to the outside edge of the bridge, allowing the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge to be widened. (The bridge has already gotten a new paint job, have you noticed?)
* DDOT is creating an additional lane on I-295 between the Suitland Parkway and South Capitol Street to help improve the traffic flow.
* The closure of the bridge is planned for 60 days; however, the contractor (Corman) can receive up to $1 million in incentives if the work is finished sooner.
There are some new before-and-after renderings of what the approach to Potomac Avenue will look like, and I've added those to my Douglass Bridge makeover page, along with some photos taken on a barge tour today beneath the bridge. (You get to see the osprey nests!)
DDOT has also produced a spiffy video about the plans for the bridge (as well as information about a new Douglass Bridge, which is a few years and $300 million away from now); when they post it on their site, I'll link to it (UPDATED: now online). You'll probably see portions of it in tonight's media coverage. And just to warn you, a certain Near Southeast blogger puts in a very brief appearance, but don't let that prevent you from watching.
I'll update this entry as the day goes on with other media coverage.
UPDATE I: .... such as Dr. Gridlock's posting on the briefing, discussing the commuting impact of the closure. And the DDOT press release.
UPDATE II: And WTOP. And NBC. And ABC. But not a lot of news in any of them.
UPDATE III: Here's the Post and the Examiner.
UPDATE, 6/11: And another Examiner piece, focusing a bit more on the eventual new bridge. (But I wish their headline writer had correctly spelled "South Capit*ol*.")

More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 

I gave you the short-and-sweet update yesterday on the progress at the Nationals ballpark, but if you want the real nitty-gritty of all aspects of the project, here's the 10-page Monthly Report submitted by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission to the City Council on May 14 (posted on Councilmember David Catania's ballpark page). It describes the current state of the schedule, budget, procurement, design, construction, coordination, and public outreach. For example, you can learn from it that approximately 65% of the stadium's structural steel and concrete is now in place, as well as 58% of the precast concrete. Typical daily manpower on the site in April? 432 workers.
One piece of development-type news in the report: the DCSEC is "drafting a request for proposals for the sale of the First Street retail development rights as a means to offset any hazardous material cleanup costs in excess of the budgeted amount and to provide the non-program retail required by the Zoning Commission final order while remaining in conformance with the Council cost cap legislation."
Also, as I've mentioned in other posts, it's expected that the draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan will be released sometime in June.
But, if you're interested in the state of, say, the sand filters or the service level slab-on-grade concrete, this is the document for you.
UPDATED because the original headline made it sound like the DCSEC *might* report, as opposed to this being their report for the month of May. Oops.

More posts: parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

From DDOT, a reminder that the last weekend closure of the outbound/southbound lanes of the Douglass Bridge (i.e., the South Capitol Street Bridge) is on tap, starting at 10 pm Friday June 1 and reopening sometime before the Monday June 4 afternoon rush hour. Of course, in a few weeks we'll all be dreaming of the days of mere weekend closures, when the bridge is closed in both directions for all of July and August for its Extreme Makeover, when "the bridge's elevated northern approach will be lowered to become an at-grade roadway with a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. Additional improvements will occur such as paving and painting the entire bridge. Ultimately, nearly three blocks of elevated roadway--which currently act as a barrier to access across South Capitol Street--will be removed and replaced with at-grade intersections that will help knit the neighborhood together."
More posts: South Capitol St., Douglass Bridge, Traffic Issues
 
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