This article originally appeared on September 6, 2021, published by HillRag.
We have all for the past year or so watched as those impressive arches were built and extended to carry South Capitol Street over the Anacostia on a new Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge. Each time we have taken the old bridge and looked over something more has appeared – cables, struts, what-have-you. But now the effort is reaching a new point where the deck will be opening to the public this fall.
What remains to be done? The basic deck elements – girders, floor beams, deck panels, etc. – have been delivered, installed and checked. The final phase involves lighting, painting and signage for navigation along six lanes of roadways, three in each direction; active information systems for wireless communication and notification of emergencies; and markers and safety railings and overlooks for the two eighteen-foot-wide separated hiking and biking paths (eight and ten feet widths respectively on each side of the bridge).
Also to be completed are the drainage and standpipe systems to handle precipitation, coatings and other repair to visual scars, final cable adjustments, concrete overlays, pavement markings, and bike and pedestrian lane lines.
There is also considerable work related to access to the bridge, some of which will probably take until winter to complete. This includes the traffic ovals at each end of the bridge, pedestrian access through connections to river walks and trails and the riverfront esplanade, and access lane layout approaching the ovals at each end of the bridge. Finally, there will need to be a plan and schedule for the removal of the existing bridge once the new one is in operation.