Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
|Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge|
|Official name||Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge|
|Other name(s)||South Capitol Street Bridge|
|Carries||South Capitol Street|
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, otherwise known as the South Capitol Street Bridge, is a swing bridge that carries South Capitol Street over the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. It was constructed in 1950 and named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In 2007 the bridge was used by 77,000 daily commuters.
The bridge connects at its southern terminus with Interstate 295 and the Suitland Parkway and thus provides access to downtown from those routes as well as from South Capitol Street and roads connecting to it. As a result, the bridge carries commuter traffic from Prince George's County, Maryland and from Southern Maryland. The bridge is part of the National Highway System, as are South Capitol Street north of the bridge and the Suitland Parkway. Major re‑decking work was done to the bridge in 1974 and again in 1988.
The bridge, besides being in disrepair, provides a gateway to an industrial part of the city that the Government of the District of Columbia wants to rejuvenate, including the area around the new Nationals Park for the Washington Nationals, which opened March 30, 2008.
The bridge closed for major renovations on July 6, 2007. The $27 million project was intended to help extend the life of the bridge for 20 years until a new one is built. The bridge reopened August 29, 2007.
The northernmost portion of the bridge was lowered to become an at‑grade roadway with a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. Nearly three blocks of elevated roadway, which previously acted as a barrier to access across South Capitol Street, were removed and replaced with at‑grade intersections that will help knit the neighborhood together. Additional improvements included replacing the deck, resurfacing, and adding brand new street lights and guard rails.
Replacement bridge project
In late 2012, a $906 million project to replace and realign the aging Douglass Memorial Bridge was announced. The project will also build new interchanges between the bridge and Suitland Parkway, the bridge and Potomac Avenue SW, Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295, and Suitland Parkway and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. The current four-lane bridge will be replaced with a six-lane bridge and brought into a more north-south alignment from its current northwest-southeast alignment. The cost of the bridge replacement is estimated at $573.8 million. A traffic circle with a large field (to be used for public gatherings, and suitable for several new memorials) will connect the north end of the bridge with Potomac Avenue SW. A second massive traffic oval on the south end of the bridge will help connect it to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, and help expand the city's "monumental core" into Anacostia. Reconstruction of the two interchanges is estimated to cost $209.2 million. The remainder of the budgeted funds will help remodel South Capitol Street into an urban boulevard from an industrial corridor, and renovate New Jersey Avenue SE. The project is due to begin in 2013 and take two years.
- DC Government Update news release
- South Capitol Street Today - Chapter 2 Discusses the bridge and its construction
- Pictures of before and after