Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

The process to build a new Douglass Bridge hasn't exactly been moving at lightning speed, but nevertheless an important milestone has been reached: on August 14 it was announced that "the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) and issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the South Capitol Street Corridor Project—both indicating federal approval of the project."
And with $587 million in DC's budget already earmarked for the project, DDOT can move forward with the next big step: choosing the design-build team, presumably from among the "final four" bidders identified back in February 2014, a process that is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
The current Douglass Bridge is now 66 years old, and has been classified as "functionally obsolete." DDOT says that if it is not replaced "within the next five years, the bridge would require an estimated $110 million in major rehabilitation work and would need to be closed for more than a year."
(And, maybe I'm just getting older and turning into even more of a fraidy cat, but holy moly is the traffic making the current bridge vibrate like crazy when you walk the pedestrian path. I just don't remember it moving that much even six months ago. Which perhaps might explain this bit of crumbling I saw on Saturday.)
This is now at least my 120th post on the bridge and the plans to replace it, so I'll go with a very quick summary (this post from last December is a good catch-up option). As you can see in the pilfered-from-DDOT graphic above, the new bridge will run immediately parallel and downriver of the existing bridge, with two new large traffic ovals on its approaches. There will also be a much-needed reconstruction of the I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange.
The bridge will have three travel lanes in each direction, along with 18-feet-wide pedestrian/bike paths on both the up-river and down-river edges of the bridge, which will be configured as one 8-foot-wide lane for pedestrians and a 10-foot-wide bidirectional bike path.
The eventual second phase of this overall "South Capitol Street Corridor Project" will be streetscape improvements to the north end of the street, similar to the spiffening that the blocks from N to Potomac received back in 2007 that give the street more of an "urban boulevard" feel. This will include a full redesign of the M Street intersection and a reconfiguration of South Capitol's interchange with I-395.
The full Request for Proposals is expected to be released in the spring of 2016.
While waiting for the new bridge to arrive, I may have to put out calls for volunteers willing to let me tether myself to them when I need to take pictures from the existing bridge, because otherwise the authorities will probably have to respond to calls of an old lady frozen in place on the pedestrian path, holding a camera but too terrified to move.
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Jaybird says: (8/31/15 4:02 PM)
The 200th anniversary of the birthday of the "Lion of Anacostia" is 2018. That would be great to open it then.


apage says: (9/1/15 3:04 AM)
Progress!

I second Jaybird's sentiments above.

As someone who has biked over this bridge a number of times, I definitely welcome a more stable replacement and a wider path.


Maelstrom says: (9/1/15 6:58 AM)
Hey! Not sure if I missed the post when it was recognized (don't live in D.C. anymore and don't check in here too often), but it looks like there's new satellite imagery on google for the near southeast. Dated April 2015 from what I see on Google Earth


JD says: (9/1/15 9:35 AM)
Dang it! I was on my way to Google Maps over the weekend to check that, and got sidetracked, and never went back. Thanks for the heads up.


JES says: (9/1/15 11:20 AM)
I dunno how long it takes to build a bridge, but I'm assuming it won't be done in time for the ASG, correct?


JD says: (9/1/15 11:22 AM)
My assumption is that construction won't start until 2017, and probably take about three years (including the new circles, etc.).

The question will be whether they will hold *off* on building the circle at South Capitol & Potomac until after the ASG, to not screw up the pretty camera angles of that approach to the Home Plate Gate.


JES says: (9/1/15 12:04 PM)
Maybe they could prioritize the circles and try to have them done(ish) before? I can't imagine that part takes nearly as long as the bridge part. But, as said before, I know nothing about these kinds of things.


JD says: (9/1/15 12:07 PM)
I will be interested to see how they stage the circles--especially since the western one at Potomac Avenue needs the approach to the existing bridge demolished before it can be completed. There may be a period of time where the new bridge has a straight approach to it, or a half-circle, while they then get the rest of it completed.

I laugh every time I think about this bridge finally moving forward--when I first started down this path, the notion of a new bridge was in the offing, but "not starting before 2011." Which was eight years from when I was reading it.

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