Since January, 2003
 Page Through from Before to After

On January 7, the city and federal agencies working on the various Anacostia Waterfront projects held their first "Interagency Coordinating Council" briefing of 2009, and were kind enough to post the PowerPoint slides (28 MB!) at A number of Near Southeast projects are part of this domain, including South Capitol Street, the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and the 11th Street Bridges. Let's start with South Capitol Street, where the final designs for the reconfiguration of South Capitol Street (under the South Capitol Street EIS) appear to have been chosen (the "Final EIS Preferred Alternative"):
* The top headline is that the new Douglass Bridge is apparently going to be an arched bascule design (like the Memorial Bridge), with an opening span to allow for larger vessels to sail through.
* There will be a large traffic oval at the foot of the new bridge (which will be located to the south of the current bridge), reshaping the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. (The ballpark's Home Plate Gate and entrance promenade will be the northeast edge of the oval.)
* The intersection of South Capitol Street and M Street will become an at-grade intersection (no more underpass for through traffic).
* There will be modifications to South Capitol's interchange with the SE/SW Freeway. They aren't specified in this document, but based on my previous readings of the Draft EIS, I believe the final design will remove the existing ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the removal of the existing ramp to I-395, the intersection at South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured.
* The northern section of South Capitol Street will match the reconfigured portion between N Street and Potomac Avenue, as a six-lane boulevard with a median and wide sidewalks.
* They expect to get a Record of Decision on the Final EIS from the Feds this fall. There's nothing in this document about a start date.
(Hopefully I'll find out more about the final EIS at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, so look for additional details on all of this in the coming days.)
As for the 11th Street Bridges, the file says that a demolition contract will be awarded this month for the decommissioned ramps to and from RFK, with the work expected to take place this spring. As for the big work to reconstruct the bridges, the city expects to choose a design/build team and have a contract with them by June 1, with the entire project slated to be completed by the end of 2013.
The PDF also has quick updates on the Anacostia Streetcar Project, the MLK Great Streets Initiative, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge in Ward 7, and a new traffic circle at Pennsylvania and Potomac avenues. It's also got some good general bullet points on the South Capitol and 11th Street projects if you haven't been following up to now. I just hope you have a high-speed connection to download the entire 28-MB file. Otherwise, go get some lunch.
UPDATE: I've taken a little time to give both my South Capitol Street and Douglass Bridge pages a makeover with the new information (and boy, they needed it)--there's now some graphics pinched from the Draft EIS that do a better job explaining what the future plans are. I'd also suggest reading the executive summary of the 2008 Draft EIS, with the knowledge that most of the Design Alternative #2 options apparently have been chosen for the final design. It's a fair amount of detail, but worth it if you want to know how the project has reached its current state, and what's coming in the future. As I said, more to come as the city briefs neighborhoods and groups on the final EIS.
Comments (18)
 More About Douglass Bridge Home


IMGoph says: (1/9/09 11:48 AM)
it's not ugly, but it sure as hell isn't daring. uber-conservative DC strikes again.

JD says: (1/9/09 11:51 AM)
Yeah, well, it's the one that I threw my considerable power and influence behind, so I'm happy:



F says: (1/9/09 12:59 PM)
Can't wait to drive across the JD Arched Bascule Bridge (JDABB).

jayd says: (1/9/09 2:08 PM)
Ugh, ANOTHER safe, none-iconic piece of beige architecture for the city.

MJM says: (1/9/09 3:46 PM)
They could have used a more modern look to match the stadium look/feel but this bridge keeps with tradition (Memorial Bridge).

Good have gone either way

BC says: (1/9/09 5:01 PM)
I am very happy with this selection. Modern design makes me think of Tampa or Miami. When I moved to New England and then later to DC, I became a traditional archetecture convert. DC has such beautiful traditional buildings: Treasure Dept, Old Post Office Pov, Natural History Museum, Union Station, Building Museum and so many more. It is a shame that the stadium could not follow these examples. But at least the bridge will (sort of) follow it. It would have been nice if they could have put on a brownstone or marble facade instead. But hay, I will take this as a small victory anyway.

BC says: (1/9/09 5:13 PM)
I forgot to mention that I hope the S. Capitol St. rendering with grass and trees where Florida Rock office/residential buildings should be is not a sign. Oh, and sorry for misspelling architecture above.

JD says: (1/9/09 5:24 PM)
Considering that Florida Rock can't even start that western portion of their project until the new bridge is built and the old one is demolished (since the current bridge runs across that footprint), maybe this rendering is just realistic. :-)

drewstewart says: (1/10/09 5:06 AM)
So your 'old school' wish for a "G'Town"design of new Douglas Bridge (boring bascule vs. unique Golden Gate suspension) wins the competition! SNORE. (You need to dare for your old neighborhood!)

But no matter what I think, because I've been somewhat disappointed that you've never taken your unique neighborhood leadership position to lead a 'progressive design movement' to encourage developers to rebuild SE into a "landmark" of architectural design. (to date: (imo) ABSOLUTELY NONE of the new SE buildings are anything more than "so-so" architecture). Whether you agree or not, I believe only you can lead a movement to correct this.

I realize I am being hard on your previous excellent work. But, in reality, you are the neo-mayor of the new SE, so you must accept this criticism.

F says: (1/10/09 8:51 AM)
It's important to note that many of the new SE buildings are leaders in environmental design. Many of them will be LEED certified (either silver or gold), something very much in demand by large tenants these days.

JD says: (1/10/09 10:45 AM)
Hi, Drew:

I actually have no problem with your criticism, because people who want me to lead a "movement" of some type or another (you're not only not the first, you're not the first *this week*) don't see the forest for the trees, and that's this:

Whatever "influence" people think I might have--which realistically is, um, ZERO--is because I've worked very hard over these six years to not have a public opinion on most projects and controversies. This is because a) I was worried my employer would fire me and b) I feared that taking stands would lessen my ability to get news and information from the many different people and entities out there, which is my mission above all else.

Most of these people have no real reason (especially when I first got started) to pay any attention to me, and if I had asked for information or renderings and then blasted their designs or plans, that most likely would have been the last time I got anything out of them. If other people have opinions (in the comments, or news stories, or wherever), I have no problem with that, but if I had been a gadfly from the beginning, it's likely that this site wouldn't be anything like it is today; I'd be depending on news stories and public documents, but little else. (Sometimes I think people don't quite grasp the amount of original reporting that goes into JDLand.) And, once you start having opinions, it becomes easier for someone who disagrees with you to start dismissing everything you say or write as being "slanted."

I can tell you that about four years ago (before many people had ever seen the site), I tried to talk to a principal architect after an ANC meeting to get some information about a project in the Hood, and when I introduced myself as a blogger, he immediately shut me down, made a few cracks about how I must be complaining about how awful everything is, and walked away. If that was the reaction when I *wasn't* advocating, imagine what it would be if I *were.* (So I got a big kick out of it recently when this same architect was in a group of people I was talking to, and when he found out I was the writer of, he had all sorts of great things to say, clearly not remembering our earlier encounter. Nyaah!)

There's also a developer of a current project who's miffed at me because they think I *linked* to a negative story about them (a link which for the life of me I can't find), and because I told them that even if I could find the link, I wouldn't take it down, since it was a legitimate news story. So, what I do is a bit of a minefield even when I try to play it straight down the middle.

I can guarantee people that I have a lot of strong feelings about what goes on in the Hood. (Just ask my husband, who has to listen to all of them.) There's buildings I can't stand, boneheaded government decisions that I think are totally wrong, and silly ideas that I hope get gobbled up by the economy. But the second I start talking about those, I lose everything that got the site to where it is now. And what I want the site to be is a place where people can find out what they need to know about Near Southeast. (With, granted, some carping every so often about bureaucracy or media coverage.)

Besides, in this era of everyone having an opinion about everything all the time, isn't it nice coming to an "oasis" of old-school just-the-facts? :-)

There you have it, the JDLand Manifesto!

PS: For the record (since it's the one design I did spout off about and since the decision's now been made), the reason I couldn't go for the cable stayed swing bridge, apart from not being a big fan of its profile, is that the pedestrian and bike paths have to be in the center of the bridge, as opposed to on the edges. What's the point of having a grand promenade across a waterway between what will eventually be two large neigbhorhoods if you can't stop and spend some time looking over the side at the water and the shorelines? In a city where so many people are so big on "walkability" and cycling improvements, I would think this would be vastly preferred to being surrounded by six lanes of traffic whizzing by at 50 mph.

phoenixdc says: (1/10/09 12:43 PM)

As a native Washingtonian and someone who had been at the earliest meetings on this bridge I am not surprised at the choice....

jamie dillon says: (1/10/09 6:07 PM)
Way to go JD. I preferred the other design but I still read your site almost daily because of the "oasis" effect. We (society at large) are inundated by so much information we have become lazy and prefer pundits to deliver news AND opinion as a package. And thusly, even in the most premiere forums, we have lost our journalistic objectiveness replaced by a lack of creativity and commercialized fear.

Opinions are like.... and I come here for the straight dope. Your credibility and vigilance over several years has made your opinion worthwhile and big fans out of many of us.

Further, if others were as dedicated, articulate, and quietly passionate about their own endeavors as you, we'd all be far better off.

Michael says: (1/10/09 7:45 PM)
Keep up the excellent work JD. Your site is a far better design than that of the new cookie cutter buildings going up in our hood! The quality of the reporting is far superior to the modern construction as well, I daresay.

MJM says: (1/11/09 11:32 AM)
I didn't realize a bridge could stir the pot so much. Maybe they should have built a tunnel instead.

Plus I didn't think this turned into a referndum on JDLand.

If it weren't JD, I don't think I'd be moving to SE later this year or at all. She peaked my interest in the area and really seems to have the only (positive/neutral) news about the area because there is only negative about SE from the Times, Post or City Paper.

F says: (1/11/09 9:40 PM)
I currently live in SE and will be moving to another place in SE later this year, mainly due to the information I've received from JDLand. This impartial, informative and innovative forum has been invaluable in keeping the public updated and motivated. The succesful transformation of SE DC is largely due to the dedicated reporting in JDLand.

Chris Loos says: (1/11/09 11:58 PM)
The presentation says they wanted an "architecturally significant" structure, yet they chose the one that looks exactly like the Memorial Bridge.

Way to innovate DC.

JNo says: (1/13/09 11:18 AM)
I echo your sentiment Chris. DC is so "safe", ugh.

Dear DC-- you never fail to dissapoint. PS-you are killing my mojo.

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