WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - The long-dreaded closure of Beach Drive began on Thursday, without any major problems, although it did create a headache for many drivers.
The closure is the first of four phases of work being done on Beach Drive over the next three years, at a cost of just under $33 million. This first phase, stretching across two miles, will lead to closures for six to eight months.
The closure is between Tilden Avenue and 24th Street, near Connecticut Avenue. Beach Drive is estimated to typically carry approximately 20,000 drivers a day during the week, and these drivers are now being diverted to adjacent communities.
Marc Vangestel was out walking his dog during the morning rush, and said there were backups.
"It was more crowded than normal," he said. "Definitely a lot more traffic up at the intersections and everywhere. A few more people out on bikes, which I think helps. But it's going to be interesting. Three years is going to be a long time."
Meanwhile community leaders from Woodley Park and Cleveland Park have raised concerns about the influx of commuters in their neighborhoods. In particular, advocates said that Connecticut Avenue has seen a spike in drivers.
Peter Brusoe, the president for the Woodley Park Community Association, said that a meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cleveland Park Library to discuss the issue.
"With the shutting down of Rock Creek Park," he said. "We've now all of a sudden have a lot more commuters coming into our streets in addition to the already busy conditions on Connecticut Avenue. So you factor that all in with bad traffic control, and we end up with this debacle."
Other neighbors such as Barbara Ioanes said that they were concerned with the removal of stop signs along Cathedral Avenue on the detour. She said that this would likely make the streets less safe.
"The stop signs made a huge difference," she said. "And we're begging everyone in charge whether it's the park service, department of transportation, the police department, to please keep our stop signs."