Washington, D.C., is set to begin replacing the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.It's the largest construction project in District history. The original Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge opened in 1950 and carries 70,000 vehicles over the Anacostia River each day. City officials say the project will spur economic development on both sides of the Anacostia, since it should transform both shores of the river into a world-class waterfront.
Investing in our infrastructure is key to how we can continue to be a growing city and the best city in the world and improving our bridges is very critical to this mission,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said. "The new bridge will provide an iconic gateway between Anacostia and Downtown D.C. When completed, this will be a tremendous structure and a fitting memorial for a remarkable American icon.”The new bridge will be built parallel to the old one, near Nationals Park. The project includes the reconstruction of the interchange with the Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295. Sections of South Capitol Street will also be recreated as a scenic boulevard.
The project is estimated to contribute more than 1,300 jobs and have an economic impact of $787 million for the greater Washington region, according to DDOT estimates.[caption id="attachment_3360" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Officials say the new bridge will celebrate the Anacostia River. (DDOT)[/caption] Bridges are generally built to stand for 50 years before needing replacement, which puts the Douglass bridge way past its life span. Continuing to deteriorate despite maintenance, the current bridge has been a victim of corrosion which has eaten holes through its thick steel beams. The structure received a major overhaul about 10 years ago, but like thousands of bridges across the country, engineers have said it's falling apart faster than repairs can be made. The average bridge in the United States is 43 years old.
The city announced it has awarded a $441 million design-build contract to the team South Capitol Bridgebuilders. The team is a joint venture of Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction Company, with AECOM as the lead designer.
The new bridge, projected to open in 2021, will be designed to increase pedestrian and vehicular safety, add multimodal transportation options, and increase community accessibility.