Contact (Media Only): Erik Linden (202) 671-2004 and Karyn LeBlanc (202) 671-3490
(Washington, DC) Commuters will again be able to use the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (sometimes called the South Capitol Street Bridge) as early as Thursday morning, as the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will reopen the crossing one week ahead of schedule during overnight hours between Wednesday and Thursday. The reopening of the bridge will provide major relief to tens of thousands of regular Douglass Bridge commuters who have coped with the closure since July 6.
“We are very excited to be giving the bridge back to the public ahead of time, fulfilling our commitment to reopen within two months,” said District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “This accomplishment is due to the efforts of many dedicated and talented individuals, but no factor was more important than the cooperation of neighboring residents, who have graciously accommodated the nearby construction, and commuters, who showed enormous patience and resourcefulness in taking alternate routes or modes of travel.”
“In just two months, the entire look and feel of the neighborhood where the Douglass Bridge touches down has been transformed for the better. Much more work remains ahead, but today’s reopening signals the rebirth of the South Capitol Street Corridor as a grand urban boulevard,” added Fenty.
DDOT embarked on this renovation or “extreme makeover” to extend the bridge’s lifespan and viability as a major entrance into Washington, DC. An estimated 77,000 vehicles use the Douglass Bridge every day.
By having uninterrupted access to the bridge, working seven days a week and pulling several 20-hour work days, crews were able to complete the reopening just ahead of the allotted two-month period – dramatically shortening and reducing overall impacts on residents and commuters.
During the closure itself, major efforts were employed to minimize impacts, including scheduling the closure during summer-vacation months when traffic volumes are significantly lower, implementing a unique commuter incentive program called “Bridge Bucks” to encourage the use of ridesharing commuter alternatives, paving an additional travel lane on part of a northbound detour route, deploying strategically placed signage, and coordinating extensively with area traffic operation centers and emergency response agencies.
“The lowered bridge will significantly improve access for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and commercial vehicles heading to and from new and coming development in the area,” said DDOT Director Emeka Moneme. “The total closure allowed us to make much-needed repairs in record time, ensuring that the Douglass Bridge remains a safe and viable facility until its ultimate replacement.”
The centerpiece of the summer work was lowering a 200-foot segment of the bridge’s elevated northern approach. The precise lowering process allowed the reconstruction of the northernmost portion of the bridge into an at-grade roadway with a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. This new intersection will improve access and mobility in and around the Anacostia Waterfront.
Throughout the closure, crews also completed critical work such as bridge deck repairs and testing, utility work and new pavement. Before the July 6th closure, preparatory work was completed including the replacement of approximately 19 bridge expansion joints, under-the-bridge steel repair work and painting.
While the bridge and South Capitol Street are reopening this week, additional enhancements to the bridge and along the South Capitol Street Corridor will be implemented in the coming months. These include new streetscape improvements, such as new environmentally sensitive lighting and pedestrian access upgrades. The pedestrian upgrades include new railings, handicap ramps and new sidewalks. New and improved utility drainage structures also will be installed and street resurfacing will be completed. Work is scheduled to be completed by April 2008.