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DC Pedestrian Bridge to be Rebuilt

Thursday, July 22, 2021

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Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced earlier this month that the D.C. Department of Transportation is planning to rebuild the collapsed pedestrian bridge over Interstate 295.

The announcement arrived just hours before a D.C. Council meeting on the matter.

What Happened

Around noon on June 23, several people were injured after a truck hit a pedestrian bridge over Interstate DC-295, which caused the structure to collapse because of the incident. Five people sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to a local hospital, while two others were evaluated onsite, according to local fire and EMS authorities.

Also known as Bridge 66, the bridge collapsed over six lanes of traffic upon being struck by a “roll off truck.” This type of truck is reported to operate similarly to a dump truck, in that it has a flat, narrow bed for hauling containers. Multiple cars behind the vehicle were also reported to have been involved in the crash.

As victims received medical care, including the truck driver, and were either taken to local hospital facilities or discharges from the scene, a leak was reported at the collapse. It is estimated that roughly 25 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into nearby drains after the truck involved in the accident, which was carrying 500 gallons of fuel, became partially trapped under the debris and began to leak.

A hazmat unit was deployed to mitigate the fuel leak.

Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination reported that following the incident, traffic was a standstill, with northbound delays stretching approximately three miles and southbound delays reaching about 1.5 miles.

Crews worked throughout the day and night clearing tons of concrete and steel debris from the roadway. The Interstate was officially reopened around 2 a.m. the following day.

Investigation & Inspections

According to Acting Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Christopher Geldart, the pedestrian bridge’s clearance is 14 feet high, and that the truck should have been able to clear it. However, in later reports it was determined that while the bridge was higher than the believed 14 feet clearance, the structure was actually three inches lower than the city’s minimum clearance of 17.5 feet.

In addition, upon receiving an incident report from D.C. police, Geldart concluded that the boom in the back of the truck that is used to pull up equipment, was still raised after leaving a nearby construction site. Officials believe that it was the truck’s boom collision that caused the bridge to lift the chain-link enclosed concrete bridge off its moorings, ensuing the collapse as a result and trapping both the truck and other vehicles while sending structural debris across the roadway.

While D.C. transportation officials later determined that the structure’s condition did not contribute to its collapse, it should not go without stating that in reviewing the bridge’s most recent February inspection, Geldart reported in a statement that the structure received a rating of 4 or “poor”—a finding that “prompts the multiyear planning process to replace the bridge.” In 2019, the structure was given a rating of 5 or “fair.”

Geldart’s issued statement did not expand on whether the bridge would have withstood the apparent collision had it been in better condition. After the incident, crews were expected to examine the area and start the rebuilding process, although the District Department of Transportation had not responded to requests about the condition of the bridge or plans for repairs.

Plans to Rebuild

According to recent reports, DDOT plans to rebuild the collapsed pedestrian bridge, in addition to two other bridges along the interstate stretch in order to better connect residents in Mayfair, Parkside, Eastland Gardens and the surrounding communities of Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue.

“We are committed to working with the community and making the necessary investments to increase connectivity, improve safety, and build a multi-modal transportation network that works better for the residents of Ward 7,” Bowser said. “These three bridges, to be built over the next three years, are a critical component of this work and part of our overall effort to build a more connected D.C.”

For the project, Bowser announced that $1.5 million in contingency funds were being directed to expedite design work, which will be moved slightly from its original position to allow more room to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements. The new bridge is also expected to span the service roads.

While money has been appropriated for the project, DDOT director Everett Lott stated that the cost for the replacement would total some $25 million to rebuild and hopes the city can get federal money to pay for the project.

Work for the project is slated to take three years to complete.

Of the other two bridges in the process of being replaced, it was reported that construction on the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge was already launched in April and is scheduled to open by September. The Douglas Street NE pedestrian bridge was set for replacement in the next two years, but DDOT is working to finish the construction contract, hoping to begin later this year with completion in winter 2022.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Transportation; Upcoming projects

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