May 8, 2017
Yet another 24/7 closure was announced in Washington, D.C.; this time the westbound Pennsylvania Avenue bridge will be closed for seven months. The over-100-year-old bridge was deemed structurally deficient by the U.S. Transportation Department after pieces of the bridge fell onto Rock Creek Parkway back in 2015.
This wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many other closures happening all at the same time. Beach Drive, which carries thousands of commuters, is completely shut down for three years. This one shut-down alone has doubled the traffic on already overcrowded roads nearby. Another road is completely shut down so D.C. Water can rehab sewer infrastructure. The Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River, has permanent lane closures due to structural deficiencies. And this is just the short list of examples.
One might think the fall-back plan is to use public transportation – ride Metro. In fact, Metro has forced thousands off the system because it is so unreliable and unsafe. And now Metro is closing all of its Orange Line stations in Maryland and D.C. east of Stadium-Armory for one month. Much of the system has been single-tracking for months. It’s not so much riders jumping ship as it is Metro pushing people off.
Decades of not maintaining bridges, roads, and Metro rail have caught up all at once, resulting in gridlock. The city is crippled, and more closures could paralyze it. Of course all these repairs are desperately needed. But if maintenance had been done all along, we would not be seeing all these 24/7 months long closures – all at once.
It took decades of neglect to get here. It took decades of political decisions to neglect infrastructure in order to give tax breaks to developers. These decisions have left us with a city literally going to pieces. Soon only the President will be able to get around the city – in his helicopter.