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Arches Complete on $480M DC Bridge

Thursday, August 20, 2020

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The arches are officially completed on Washington, D.C.’s new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. The last piece of the final arch was put in place last week.

The $480 million structure runs across the Anacostia River, replacing a 70-year-old bridge of the same name that sits about 100 feet away.

Project 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. It carries 77,000 vehicles a day.

The new project— part of the larger South Capitol Street Corridor project, under design-build team South Capitol Bridgebuilders, a joint venture of Archer West Construction and Granite Construction, with AECOM as lead designer—was announced in 2012, and an initial 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.

A new design was revealed in August 2017 featuring the 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," District Department of Transportation spokesperson Maura Danehey told PaintSquare Daily News at the time.

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.

That design, however, was criticized as well in a letter from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which said that the CFA 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.”

District Department of Transportation

The arches are officially completed on Washington, D.C.’s new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. The last piece of the final arch was put in place last week.

Little action was taken in regard to the new design, however, and the team announced that construction was halfway complete in May of last year.

What Now

While inclement weather prevented a topping-out ceremony, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press release that, “The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge represents a bold step forward to build an even more connected DC where residents on both shores of the Anacostia are sharing in the economic prosperity this project will bring.”

Crews will now begin work on paving the bridge deck.

The structure is still expected to open late next year.



Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Good Technical Practice; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects

Comment from Mario Colica, (8/26/2020, 11:36 AM)

No mention on the coating system adopted to protect steel nd rebar from corrosion. I'd like the writer to mention this important aspect for the long cycle life and safe of people .

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