D.C.'s 11th Street Bridge Rebuilding Project Celebrated Saturday

Saturday, Sep 7, 2013  |  Updated 7:59 PM EDT
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The 11th Street Bridge reopens with a brand new span that bridges two DC communities. News4's Derrick Ward was there for the debut and the special dedication to a fallen DC officer.

The 11th Street Bridge reopens with a brand new span that bridges two DC communities. News4's Derrick Ward was there for the debut and the special dedication to a fallen DC officer.

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A rebuilt 11th Street Bridge opened Saturday evening, giving drivers a new way to connect to some of the area's busiest roads.

A massive reconstruction project of the bridge now gives drivers a direct connection between the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and I-295. It's the district's first river bridge replacement in 40 years, and the largest project in the history of the District Department of Transportation.

At Saturday's dedication, the bridge was named for Metropolitan Police Officer Kevin J. Welsh, who drowned in 1986 after jumping off the bridge to help a citizen. An old bridge span that was replaced as part of the bridge project was also named for Welsh.

Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier took part in Saturday's dedication ceremony.

"This project has exceeded our expectations by creating jobs in the District, and most importantly, connecting formerly disconnected communities," Gray said in a press release.

The $390 million 11th Street Bridge Project replaced two bridges built in the 1960s with three new bridges that separate local and freeway traffic, and get traffic bound for 295 off local streets, according to the project's web site.

A pedestrian and bicycle path on the local bridge also connects to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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