Road reopens after Levee test on National Mall

Listen as WTOP's John Aaron reports from the site of the levee installation at 17th Street in Northwest.

Part of 17th Street in D.C. has reopened after planned closures earlier Thursday while the National Park Service prepares to install a levee.

The yearly test installation closes 17th Street between Constitution Avenue Northwest and Independence Avenue Southwest.

Sunrise as levee is installed along National Mall
The morning commute is disrupted as the 17th Street NW levee is tested Thursday. (WTOP/John Aaron)

Mike Litterst, spokesman for the National Park Service, said the test is necessary to ensure the levee closure correctly in the event of high water.

The test is also required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which constructed and regulates the levee system and closure.

Levee test installation
The levees were last tested in 2019, pictured here. (Courtesy National Park Service)

The levee is made of aluminum panels between steel posts, and comprises part of the Potomac Park Levee System in downtown Washington, D.C.

If needed, the removable structure can be raised across 17th Street Northwest, south of Constitution Avenue, to reduce flood risks, preserve the downtown infrastructure and keep the Southwest parts of the district from flooding of the Potomac River.

WTOP’s John Aaron reported from the National Mall near 17th Street Northwest.

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is an Associate Producer at WTOP and a graduate of the University of Maryland. She enjoys covering the intersection of arts, culture and social justice in local communities. She began as an intern with WTOP in the summer of 2021.

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