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Gusting winds ruined the city’s best-laid plans today, preventing officials from celebrating the placement of the first pile in the Anacostia River of the 11th Street Bridge Project—the media were supposed to go out for a boat tour and everything! Even Dr. Gridlock was there!

Alas, no boat. And no pile.

But the driving in of that foundation—which could take place later this week or next, weather permitting—will mark the official start of construction on the $300-million D.C. Department of Transportation project, billed as the largest in DDOT history.

The project, in a nutshell, as described by project manager Bart Clark of DDOT: Three news spans (see above) will be built in between the two existing bridges. One of the new spans will be devoted to local traffic—think of it as a “city street that just happens to go over a river,” Clark says—so someone wanting to go from Historic Anacostia to anywhere west of the river, or vice versa, won’t have to brave the freeway to do it. The local span will also include a shared path for bicycles and pedestrians as well as rails for the future Anacostia streetcar line.

The two other new spans, designed to carry freeway traffic, will connect I-295 with the Southeast/Southwest Freeway in both directions. The idea: Eliminate the need for commuters to cut through city streets.

The Anacostia Boathouse, at 1115 O Street SE, will be permanently relocated to the Anacostia Marina, according to Clark.

The existing bridges, dubbed “outdated” and “functionally obsolete,” will be torn down as part of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2013.

The bridges carry about 100,000 vehicles a day; by 2030, the reconfigured spans are projected to carry about 180,000 (most will be freeway traffic). So look forward to that.

Rendering of the new bridge spans provided by DDOT