Interstate 695 - Southeast Freeway

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East-west Interstate 695 is a 2.00-mile route running between Interstate 395 (Center Leg Freeway) and Interstate 295 (Anacostia Freeway) in central Washington. Otherwise known as the Southeast Freeway and 11th Street Bridge, I-695 provides a high-speed route from the United State Capitol, the National Mall and many other government agencies with the Capital Beltway via I-295 south or D.C. 295 north.

Until 2009, Interstate 695 was the unsigned designation for all of the Southeast Freeway. This included a spur east from the 11th Street Bridge to Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Planned alongside the Southeast Freeway was the East Leg Freeway proposed to carry I-295 northward to planned I-95 and U.S. 50. When the East Leg Freeway was dropped, a new proposal arose to extend I-695 east to the Anacostia Freeway near E Street. Known as the Barney Circle Freeway, that routing was canceled in 1996.1

The Southeast Freeway opened in 1963 as a short connector between the Center Leg Freeway (I-395 / former I-95) and South Capitol Street. A half mile extension followed east to 6th Street SE in 1965. Further work was delayed as the East Leg Freeway plans fell through, leaving a toned down interchange with the 11th Street Bridge (I-295) to open in 1971. This left the Southeast Freeway spur to Pennsylvania Avenue, which saw completion in 1974.1

Work commenced in December 2009 on a $390-million project2 to replace the 11th Street Bridge across the Anacostia River and to reconstruct the partial interchange with the Anacostia Freeway into full access directional T. Coinciding with the work was the 2009 AASHTO approval to shorten I-295 southward from the Southeast Freeway to the interchange with the 11th Street Bridge, the removal of I-695 along the Southeast Freeway spur to Pennsylvania Avenue, and the lengthening of I-695 southward across the Anacostia over former I-295. Signs began to appear for I-695 in 2011 and the route is now fully signed.

The new westbound I-695 bridge opened in December 2011, followed by the new eastbound span in January 2012. A new local 11th Street Bridge was built and opened in May 2012. Work continues on local connections to the 11th Street Bridge from Virginia Avenue through 2015.2

Interstate 695 East
Interstate 695 (Southeast Freeway) rises to pass over the ramps with the Center Leg Freeway as I-395 north prepares to split with Exit 6 for C Street SW for the United States Capitol. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interchanges are unnumbered along the Southeast Freeway and the first exit connects with South Capitol Street as it leaves the U.S. Capitol area for Washington Nationals Park and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Photo taken 08/04/13.
South Capitol Street carries four overall lanes between Washington Avenue, near Interstate 695, and Suitland Parkway near its interchange with Interstate 295. The 6th Street SE ramp quickly follows in one quarter mile to Southeast Federal center and Washington Navy Yard. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The on-ramp from Interstate 395 (Center Leg Freeway) south onto I-695 east includes access to South Capitol Street south. Older guide signs continue to reference the Southeast Freeway as TO I-295 south, dating from when I-695 was an unsigned route. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 nears the 6th Street SE off-ramp on the 0.75 mile approach to the 11th Street Bridge south.
The Southeast Freeway originally continued east to Pennsylvania Avenue SE. Plans going forward involve converting the roadway into an at-grade Southeast Boulevard. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The Interstate 695 viaduct reaches the 6th Street SE off-ramp for Washington Navy Yard and an alternate route to Nationals Park. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The 6th Street SE ramp forms the Virginia Avenue SE frontage road, which connects travelers to 8th Street SE and M Street SE. An I-395 trailblazer redirects motorists onto I-695 west for the Southwest Freeway. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Previously a diagrammatic sign outline the left side ramp for Pennsylvania Avenue and the continuation to D.C. 295 (Anacostia Freeway) north, this overhead reflects the new flyover from I-695 east to D.C. 295 north.
A tri-level stack interchange between the Southeast Freeway and 11th Street Bridge was replaced as part of the 2009-14 11th Street Bridge project. The left side ramp onto Southeast Boulevard was moved to the right during the work. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 turns south at the future Southeast Boulevard off-ramp to cross the Anacostia River on the 11th Street Bridge. Photo taken 08/04/13.
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Views of construction involving the rebuilding of Interstate 695 south between Southeast Boulevard and the 11th Street Bridge. Photos taken 08/04/13.
Passing over Water Street SE, Interstate 695 (11th Street Bridge) prepares to meet Interstate 295 (Anacostia Freeway) south and District of Columbia 295 (Anacostia Freeway) north. A partial interchange between the two freeways was upgraded to a directional T by 2012, providing full access to the Anacostia Freeway. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Two lanes dive below the flyover for D.C. 295 north to join Interstate 295 south to Bolling Air Force Base and the Capital Beltway (I-95 & 495) at Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photo taken 08/04/13.
A flyover shuttles motorists onto D.C. 295, which extends the Anacostia Freeway north to East Capitol Street while en route to Baltimore-Washington Parkway at U.S. 50. Photo taken 08/04/13.
11th Street SE passes over Interstates 295 and 695 to provide local access to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE and Good Hope Road SE. These streets were previously served by I-295 south directly. Photo taken 08/04/13.
An end shield for Interstate 695 resides ahead of the left side merge with the beginning I-295 south. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Exit 3B lies just one half mile south with Howard Road, with its connection to South Capitol Street north to Nationals Park. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 West
A left side ramp veers away from Interstate 295 (Anacostia Freeway) north onto the 11th Street Bridge as Interstate 695 begins. 11th Street SE passes through the directional T interchange between the two freeways. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Spanning the new 11th Street Bridge, Interstate 695 crosses the Anacostia River to a half diamond interchange with M Street SE by the Washington Navy Yard. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The M Street SE off-ramp departs Interstate 695 west for the Washington Navy Yard and Capitol Riverfront areas to the west. I-695 turns westward onto the Southeast Freeway at the 8th Street SE exit next. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Curving west, Interstate 695 passes through the site of the original stack interchange with the Southeast Freeway spur leading east to Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
The unnumbered ramp to 8th Street SE departs from this flyover onto parallel I Street SE west to 8th Street SE and 7th Street SE to become Virginia Avenue SE. Photo taken 08/04/13.
An older diagrammatic sign directs motorists onto the I Street SE off-ramp for 8th Street SE for the Capitol Hill section of Washington.
This ramp represents the historic north end of I-295. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 travels a viaduct westward to the junction with Interstate 395 at the Southwest Federal Center district. The four-lane freeway defaults onto I-395 south for Arlington and Northern Virginia. The right lane serves I-395 north underneath the United States Capitol area to U.S. 50 (New York Avenue). Photo taken 08/04/13.
Traffic to Interstate 395 north utilizes a ramp that bypasses the 3rd Street SE / Virginia Avenue SE on-ramp to stay to the right into the three wye interchange with the Center Leg Freeway. Drivers bound for the Convention Center or Verizon Center (home of the NBA Washington Wizards and NHL Washington Capitols) should continue ahead to the 6th Street SW off-ramp from the Southwest Freeway (I-395). Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 nears its western terminus at the partitioning of traffic for I-395 north to the U.S. Capitol and Mt. Vernon Triangle and I-395 south for the National Mall and Arlington. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Downtown traffic interests should remain on Interstate 695 west to Interstate 395 south for the 6th Street SW and D Street SW off-ramps. A center sign posted here once displayed trucker info for an over height detection device for the 3rd Street Tunnel along I-395 north. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The four lanes of Interstate 695 west default onto Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) south to Virginia. A single lane ramp lowers to join I-395 (Center Leg Freeway) north through a pair of cut and cover tunnels with a 13 foot clearance.
The missing sign next to the I-395 south pull through panel displayed 6th Street SW - 1/2 mile until 2011. Photo taken 08/04/13.
An on-ramp from South Capitol Street north splits with connections to I-395 (Center Leg Freeway) north and I-695 west to I-395 south. Photo taken 08/04/13.
A trailblazer for I-395 directs motorists along the exit from I-695 west to move to the left as an off-ramp peels away to D Street SW from the right. All trucks exceeding 13 feet in height must exit here. Photo taken 08/04/13.
D Street stems east from the off-ramp and Washington Avenue to North Carolina Avenue SE. The exit serves the Rayburn and Cannon House Office Buildings south of the U.S. Capitol. Photo taken 08/04/13.
The United States Capitol Dome rises prominently to the north as Interstate 695 west spans South Capitol Street. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Traffic from the Center Let Freeway merges onto the ending I-695 west from the right. The Southwest Freeway extends I-395 south to the George Mason Bridge and Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge across the Potomac River. The Interstate ends at the Springfield Interchange with Interstates 95 and 495 (Capital Beltway). Photo taken 08/04/13.
Interstate 695 scenes
An Interstate 95 trailblazer directs motorists onto Virginia Avenue SE west from 7th Street SE north for the I-695 westbound on-ramp at 3rd Street SE. Interstate 95 last traveled through D.C. in 1977. Photo taken 08/04/13.
Virginia Avenue parallels the I-695 (Southeast Freeway) viaduct west from 7th Street SE directly to the on-ramp at 3rd Street. A trailblazer for I-395 appears at 6th Street SE. Photo taken 08/04/13.
4th Street SE provides access to Virginia Avenue SE east to the 8th Street SE on-ramp to I-695. An I-295 trailblazer references the Southeast Freeway, dating from the days when I-695 was an unsigned route. Photo taken 08/04/13.
A second I-295 trailblazer stands at Virginia Avenue SE west at 3rd Street SE ahead of the entrance ramp to Interstate 695 west. Photo taken 08/04/13.

Sources:

  1. Southeast Freeway (I-695), DCRoads.net.
  2. 11th Street Bridge Project, District Department of Transportation.


Photo Credits:

08/04/13 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 295 - Anacostia Freeway
Interstate 395
District of Columbia 295

Page Updated 06-13-2014.