The District of Columbia has completed the rehabilitation of the New York Avenue Bridge—a critical infrastructure project for the District.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Federal Highway Division Administrator Christopher Lawson and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Director Terry Bellamy were on hand to officially mark the completion of the project.
“Throughout the country we are faced with the issue of aging infrastructure,” said Gray. “Together with our federal partners, my administration remains committed to ensuring that the District’s bridges and roadways are safe to serve our needs for decades to come.”
The rehabilitation of the 50-plus-year-old bridge began in January 2011 and included the installation of a third girder, creating structural redundancy that makes the bridge less susceptible to a collapse resulting from damage to one of the two main girders. DDOT initiated this project to repair the underside, deck and roadway of the bridge. As part of the project the pedestrian sidewalks and the roadway lighting features also were improved.
Funds for the project were provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and the project is the largest ARRA effort in the District. Total cost for the project was $44 million.
To accommodate the construction work, the New York Avenue roadway was reduced from six to four lanes between Penn Street NE and Florida Avenue NE. With the rehabilitation work completed, the bridge was fully reopened two weeks ago today.
The New York Avenue Bridge is used by more than 87,000 vehicles each day and crosses several busy commuter and freight rail lines run by Amtrak, CXS and Metro. DDOT worked in close coordination with these agencies throughout the planning process to ensure the safety of travelers on both the rails and roadway during construction. This coordination also helped identify the optimal time to begin construction, which took into account all the possible impacts on the various modes of transportation in the project area.
Leading up to the start of the project, DDOT carried out an extensive public awareness effort that included public meetings, community outreach, paid advertisements and campaigns on social and traditional media that reached more than 9 million people. DDOT also provided options to New York Avenue commuters by offering a $50/month incentive to use ride-sharing alternatives. The “Bridge Bucks” program helped relieve some of the traffic pressure caused by the lane-narrowing the project necessitated.
“This was a major undertaking for my team as part of the challenge required for the bridge to be kept open while it was under construction,” said Bellamy. “By thinking outside of the box, we were able to successfully reduce the number of commuters via the use of the ‘Bridge Bucks’ program. The reduction in the number of commuter vehicles on the bridge helped ameliorate any construction-related traffic delays and also helped our team complete the project in a safe manner.”
As part of the project, DDOT partnered with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) to commission a new public art installation titled Gateway Wings, New York Avenue Bridge Gateway, designed by Kent Bloomer Studio. The installation is the District’s largest public-art commission to date. Two visually stunning, 50-ft assemblages and a programmable lighting component were commissioned by DCCAH through a competition to produce a signature project that would highlight the bridge, a popular entry point to the District from the northeast along U.S. Highway 50. The artwork serves as a striking invitation to the District and signals a passage into the Nation’s Capital and the NoMa Business Improvement District.
“DCCAH is proud to be a major contributor to highlight the importance of public art in neighborhood revitalization,” said DCCAH Executive Director Lionell Thomas.