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DC Bridge Almost Halfway Complete

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, running over the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., is halfway complete, according to reports. The structure is slated to open in 2021, costing $480 million.

The Washington Post notes that the bridge is set to replace the nearly 70-year-old structure that connects neighborhoods that lie east of the river to the core of federal government. Previously, in 2017, the new bridge design faced criticism by a federal panel.

Bridge Design Criticism

The new bridge design, which was submitted to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for its review in October 2017, is a through-arch bridge featuring three steel arches on concrete v-piers. It represents the largest construction project in the history of the D.C. Department of Transportation.

While the new design was the result of an effort to create a “bolder” and “more contemporary” look in comparison with the first Frederick Douglass design, released in 2013 and criticized by the CFA as being “little advanced from the nearby uninspired highway bridges built in the last six decades.”

But a letter from CFA Secretary Thomas E. Luebke, sent in late October of that year and addressed to DDOT’s Jeff Marootian and representatives of lead designer AECOM and bridge architects Brownlie, Ernst and Marks, said that the commission questioned the “appropriateness” of the arch design “within the context of this city, whose bridges are typically supported from below, allowing expansive views of the urban context from the roadway above.”

The previous design had no structural elements extending above the deck.

Construction Progress

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is slated to be a necessary upgrade from the old structure, one that has been structurally deficient for a number of years.

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.

Officials note that a new bridge will be in line with increasing development occurring along the shores of the river. Work is currently wrapping up on bridge support as well as utility relocation on both sides of the structure. Once two new traffic ovals are completed and the bridge is finished, the new bridge will be put into use, while the old structure will be demolished.

According to The Post, the new bridge will have six general travel lanes. An additional lane of general traffic will also help alleviate pressure around a chokepoint.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Design; Design build; Government contracts; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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