Crews to begin work on Southeast Freeway westbound

On most days, driving on I-295 can be a challenge.

"It's already bad. I keep running out of gas in the traffic, and I got a little car," said driver Jimmy Jay.

To help motorists, D.C.'s Department of Transportation is making some major changes.

Starting around 10 a.m. Thursday, the westbound Southeast Freeway will be closed between Pennsylvania Avenue and 8th Street, SE. Motorists will have to take the new 695 Inbound Freeway to reach the Southeast/Southwest Bridge and I-395 northbound.

Crews will be working on improvements to the freeway during the closure, which is expected to last at least 18 months.

Driver Marilyn Roberson is optimistic about the construction.

"It's been like this forever, and I think we need a change," she said. "Other states have new highways, and we need new highways."

Signs are already up warning drivers about the big change, which begins during Wednesday's morning rush hour.

On Thursday, the newly constructed ramp from 11th Street to westbound 695 opens. The opening should improve traffic through Capitol Hill and give more people a direct path from Anacostia. Officials also hope the ramp will alleviate the evening rush hour from Navy Yard.

Motorists should also not around year's end, the eastbound stretch of the Southeast/Southwest Freeway will be closed, meaning drivers will have to use the outbound 11th Street Bridge and I-295 in a northerly pattern instead of using Pennsylvania Avenue and the Sousa Bridge.