WASHINGTON — The signs say I-395, but most just call it the 3rd Street Tunnel. It’s actually three separate tunnels but Washington’s very own “Big Dig” is changing that. A large, open section will be decked over in the coming years.
In a meeting on Wednesday, project leaders and the District Department of Transportation outlined the first round of construction, set to take place between late February and August, in a multi-year project.
The north-south chasm for tunnel traffic between Union Station and the Verizon Center will eventually be bridged. The plan will reconnect the street grid at F and G Streets NW as originally designed in the L’Enfant’s master plan of the city. It will also support the Capitol Crossings development, which will be a mixed-use project.
Originally, crews had hoped to close I-395 to speed up construction. DDOT has since developed a plan that allows crews to block lanes during the overnights to minimize traffic congestion during the work week.
“After last year’s request to consider a complete closure of I-395, DDOT … [is] pleased to have found a way to permit work to take place while keeping all lanes open during the day,” said DDOT director Leif Dormsjo.
The work zones on H Street, 2nd Street and Massachusetts Avenue at the northern end of the project area will be put into place on weekends. Lane closures during the early phases of construction on these routes have been leading to significant delays on weekends when coincident with events at the Convention Center and Verizon Center.
“Further studies and mitigation measures will be developed over the coming months to ensure that every reasonable step will be taken to minimize traffic impacts of future phases of construction,” Dormsjo says.
Beginning in late February, the ramp from the southbound lanes of the 3rd Street Tunnel to 3rd Street NW will be permanently closed.