By 2021, Washington, D.C., is expected to get a brand new bridge crossing the Anacostia River, a bridge so big it’s been named the District’s largest construction project in history.
Located between Potomac Avenue SE and Suitland Parkway SE at Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE, the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is expected to complete in two phases with traffic circles on either end and pedestrian and cyclist access improved.
“I think that it is definitely going to have a positive impact and reduce some of the congestion,” McEnearney Associates Realtor Nicole Donald said to Curbed DC. “With new jobs being brought into this area, more people are venturing out onto this side, which in the past people really didn’t want to come.”
Donald told Curbed DC that the Southeast quadrant tended to have a negative reputation in the past 10 or 15 years. The words she used to describe the general view of the quadrant was that it was deemed “not as well kept, kind of rundown.”
Now, with this project, she adds, “It’s making this area a desirable place to live in.”
Neighborhoods like Anacostia are changing in big ways, such as with the 11th Street Bridge Park and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Gateway. With the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, these changes are only expected to come even faster.
According to The Washington Post, over 1,300 jobs will be created by this one bridge project. The project is expected to have an economic impact of $787 million for the region.
In a statement to Curbed DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “The project will improve mobility and safety for the more than 70,000 motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who cross the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge each day. We have and will continue to prioritize all modes of transport throughout the project’s design ... This $441 million initiative is ... expected to have vast positive impact on the local economy.”
When it comes to whether or not the new bridge is even needed in the region, Donald said, “I do think that it is necessary ... The traffic is already bad enough, and they are adding new projects, and that is bringing a lot of jobs. So, you are going to [expect] even more traffic and more people commuting to the area.”
When the designs for the new project were revealed in August 2017, Curbed DC further reported that bridges generally need replacing after 50 years, and the currently standing bridge is reaching its 68th year. The Washington Post further reported that the average bridge in the nation is 43 years old.
Additionally, 63.67 percent of Washington, D.C.’s bridges don’t meet contemporary design standards, according to Auto Insurance Center. Out of any other state, D.C. also has the fewest proposed bridge replacements (0.11 percent).
“D.C. is just growing at such a rapid rate,” said Donald, “and I think working on this bridge could help with that.”
• The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, revealed [Curbed DC]
• D.C. unveils plans for new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Take a look (video). [The Washington Post]