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$441 Million DC Bridge Design Unveiled

Monday, August 14, 2017

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Residents of Washington D.C. have gotten their first look at what the new Frederick Douglass Bridge will look like when it opens, and a timeline for the project, the largest ever taken on by the District Department of Transportation.

At an event Thursday (Aug. 10), Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled renderings of the new bridge across the Anacostia River, part of the larger South Capitol Street Corridor Project. The bridge replacement is part of phase one of the project, and the district’s contract with design-build team South Capitol Bridgebuilders—a joint venture of Archer West Construction and Granite Construction, with AECOM as lead designer—is worth $441 million.

Frederick Douglass Bridge rendering
Renderings courtesy of DDOT

The Frederick Douglass Bridge replacement design calls for one main span running through three sets of parallel steel arches, supported by two concrete piers in the river.

The Federal Highway Administration will be allocating $200 million in federal funds to the project.

According to DDOT, which is working with HNTB to manage the project, it’s the biggest construction job in the district’s history.

The design calls for one main span running through three parallel arches. "The arches are comprised of two primary components: Concrete v-piers bearing on pile-supported footings, and steel arch ribs connected to the v-piers above deck level," DDOT spokesperson Maura Danehey told PaintSquare Daily News. More material information will be available "as the design progresses," Danehey added.

Bridge History

The current Frederick Douglass Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1950, is a steel swing bridge that has suffered considerable corrosion over the years, and rarely opens for oversize river traffic. It underwent a $27 million rehab in 2007 in order to extend its life until a replacement bridge could be designed and built.

Frederick Douglass Bridge rendering

The new design includes six lanes of traffic, plus a multi-use pedestrian and cyclist lane, and features pedestrian overlooks.

The bridge carries more than 70,000 vehicles daily, according to DDOT, connecting with I-295 and Suitland Parkway on its south end. The north side of the bridge abuts Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals.

Design Refined

An initial Frederick Douglass replacement design released in 2013 was met with considerable criticism; the federal Commission of Fine Arts called the simple arch design “uninspired” and called for a “bolder” and more “contemporary” look for the new bridge. The designs revealed Thursday are the first public look at the final design, with its more dramatic through-arch concept.

The new steel arch design includes six lanes of traffic, plus a multi-use pedestrian and cyclist lane, and features pedestrian overlooks. The underside of the bridge along the river will serve as a public space for performances and gatherings.

The Frederick Douglass Bridge is named for the 19th century African-American orator and writer, who lived his last 17 years at Cedar Hill, his home in Anacostia, just south of the bridge crossing.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Design build; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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