Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in 2018
|Carries||South Capitol Street|
|Official name||Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge|
|Other name(s)||South Capitol Street Bridge|
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (also 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 built in 1950 and named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In 2007, the bridge was used by 77,000 daily commuters.
About the bridge
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.
The bridge provides a gateway to an industrial part of the city that the District of Columbia government wants to rejuvenate, including the area around the new Nationals Park for the Washington Nationals, which opened March 30, 2008.
The bridge was re-decked in 1974 and again in 1988. In 2007, the bridge was closed from July 6 to August 29 for a $27 million renovation project meant to extend its life for 20 years. 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 blocked access across South Capitol Street, were removed and replaced with at‑grade intersections that will help knit the neighborhood together. The deck was once again replaced and resurfaced, and new street lights and guard rails were added.
Despite these repairs, the bridge continued to deteriorate faster than maintenance could keep up. Inspectors found that the bridges beams had large corrosion holes in its structural beams which necessitated complete replacement of the bridge.
Replacement bridge project
In late 2012, officials announced a $906 million plan to replace and realign the bridge. The project will 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 $573.8 million six-lane bridge. 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 was estimated to cost $209.2 million. The remainder of the budgeted funds will help renovate New Jersey Avenue SE and turn South Capitol Street from an industrial corridor into an urban boulevard. The two-year project was to begin in 2013.
An initial bridge design was submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission and the United States Commission of Fine Arts in summer 2013. The CFA rejected the design in September, called it "uninspired". The agency asked for a design with a more "contemporary approach" and "bolder look".
On January 29, 2014, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the four construction teams that will be asked to solicit final bids on the bridge demolition and construction:
- Frederick Douglass Bridge Partners (a joint venture of Tutor Perini, T.Y. Lin International Group, and Stantec)
- Skanska Facchina (a joint venture of Skanska AB, Facchina Group, and Parsons Transportation)
- South Capitol Constructors (a joint venture of Kiewit Corporation, Corman Construction, and URS Corporation)
- South Capitol Bridge Builders (a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors, Granite Construction, and AECOM)
The cost of the bridge (which included demolition and construction of the bridge and traffic ovals, but not the Suitland Parkway interchange) was now pegged at $608 million. The new bridge also required the removal of USS Barry (DD-933), which would have been landlocked by construction of the new span. Mayor Muriel Bowser budgeted $512.7 million over six years, beginning in fiscal 2016, to begin building the bridge.
On August 7, 2017, DDOT chose South Capitol Bridge Builders as the contractor team to design and build the new bridge and ovals. The bridge will have six lanes as well as bicycle and pedestrian access, and cost $441 million. South Capitol Bridge Builders estimated that, if all goes well, construction should be finished in December 2021.
DDOT unveiled a new design for the bridge on August 10, 2017. The design is for a 1,600-foot (490 m) long suspension bridge consisting of three sets of parallel white arches. The bridge will have six traffic lanes, and a joint bicycle-pedestrian path on either side of the bridge deck. At both ends of the bridge there will be an esplanade run under the bridge and along the Anacostia River as well as a community park. If the design is approved, the bridge will be the biggest public works project in the history of the District of Columbia, and employ more than 1,300 workers at the height of construction. The federal government will contribute more than $200 million towards the bridge's $441 million cost.
DDOT also said that it hoped to begin work on the bridge in 2018, to help commemorate the bicentennial of Fredrick Douglass' birth.
- Schrank, Delphine (August 29, 2007). "Revamped Douglass Bridge to Reopen Tomorrow". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- Lazo, Luz (August 10, 2017). "D.C. unveils plans for new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
- Halsey III, Ashley. "Decaying D.C. Bridge Reflects State of Thousands of Such Structures Nationwide." Washington Post. December 31, 2012, accessed 2013-01-27; "Rebuilding Bridges in the District." Washington Post. December 31, 2012, accessed 2013-01-27.
- Neibauer, Michael. "Four Teams Shortlisted for $608M D.C. Bridge Project." Washington Business Journal. January 30, 2014. Accessed 2014-01-30.
- Eckstein, Megan (19 October 2015). "Washington Navy Yard Says Goodbye to Display Ship Barry". United States Naval Institute. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
- Neibauer, Michael (April 7, 2015). "New building, new debt and crazy housing prices: A dive into D.C.'s 2016 budget proposal". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- Clabaugh, Jeff (July 31, 2017). "DC chooses contractors for new Douglass Memorial Bridge project". WTOP. Retrieved August 7, 2017.
- Neibauer, Michael (August 10, 2017). "The biggest public works project in D.C. history has a new design, set timeline and a team to build it". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved August 11, 2017.
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