Eastern Avenue Bridge Recovery Act project in D.C. under way

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Drivers in northeast Washington, D.C., soon will have a safer commute over the new Eastern Avenue Bridge because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and innovative construction techniques, the Federal Highway Administration announced.

The new bridge is being funded with $9.6 million in Recovery Act dollars and a $1 million FHWA program grant for innovative approaches to reduce congestion and improve safety during construction. Known as “Highways for LIFE,” the program encourages states to build roads faster, while also making roads last longer and less costly to maintain. For the Eastern Avenue Bridge, the technology is helping complete the project in less than half the time it would have taken using traditional methods.

“The project combines Recovery Act dollars and innovation to improve our quality of life by creating a safer and stronger community,” says FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez. “We are helping to deliver transportation projects more quickly and seamlessly, which minimizes daily disruptions.”

The Eastern Avenue Bridge, which carries traffic over Kenilworth Avenue (DC-295), is being rebuilt using prefabricated bridge decks and piers so that traffic lanes are not closed down for long durations. The segments of the bridge are built offsite and assembled together on location similar to building blocks. FHWA says the use of this technology will decrease project construction time from potentially two years to less than one year.

The existing structure has a clearance height of 14 feet and has been the site of numerous accidents over the years. The reconstruction of the bridge will increase the clearance height to 16 feet, which should reduce the number of clearance-related accidents significantly. The new bridge will include a dedicated truck turnaround lane to separate truck traffic from vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and it also will provide safer access for communities on both sides of DC-295 with improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities and include planters to create green space.

Of the $26.6 billion in ARRA highway funds available nationwide, the District of Columbia’s share is $123 million. To date, the District of Columbia has obligated the full amount for 15 projects; one project has been completed, and 14 are under way.