peek >> << backSouth Capitol Street south of Potomac Avenue, February 2006.
South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Bridge
Ribbon cut in Feb. 2018 for the replacement Anacostia River bridge crossing
Preliminary design work and land acquistion began in 2012; RFQ for the first two phases released in spring 2013
$441 million design-build contract awarded in summer 2017; Construction underway early 2018, estimated completion 2021
Aug. 10, 2017 - With the current South Capitol Street Bridge now past its useful lifespan, and as part of the plans to revitalize South Capitol Street from its intersection with I-395 south to Firth Sterling Avenue in Anacostia, early construction work began in February 2018 on the new $441 million Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, situated slightly to the southwest of the existing Douglass Bridge's location (see top of page). The city unveiled this new design, with three sets of parallel arches, in August 2017.
New South Capitol Street Traffic Oval
A sense of what the change that is coming to the intersection of South Capitol and Potomac will be like.
November 3, 2019 - Looking down river at the old Douglass Bridge, with the construction of the new one finally becoming visible on the existing bridge's other side. The "V"s are the bases of the new bridge, as seen in the rendering.
November 3, 2019 - Up on the current Douglass Bridge, looking at the bridge bases under construction.
November 3, 2019 - ... And one of the "Vs", up close and personal.
Aug. 10, 2017 - The site plan for this first phase of the South Capitol Street reconstruction plan, which includes the new Douglass Bridge as well as the reconstruction of the interchange of Interstate 295 and the Suitland Parkway.
Feb. 16, 2006 - This is what the "intersection" of South Capitol and Potomac used to look like. No, really.
November 3, 2019 - The current view, long after the 2007 demolition of the current bridge's raised approach ramp, and with the work on the new bridge visible. In the new design, this spot will be inside the traffic oval on the bridge's western side.
March 30, 2018 - A rendering showing what the view up South Capitol from the West Oval could be. This is the space at Potomac Avenue, by Nationals Park (which would be off to the north-northeast).
March 30, 2018 - The esplanade underneath the new 2017 bridge design, and the paths and slope down from the West Oval. This is looking along the Riverwalk toward The Salt Line and Diamond Teague Park.
March 30, 2018 - What the wide side paths on both sides of the bridges will look like, with separate bike and pedestrian lanes, as well as overlooks situated out of the line of movement.
March 30, 2018 - What the bridge and its overlooks would look like from below.
Aug. 10, 2017 - A nighttime view.
Aug. 10, 2017 - An overhead view, showing the traffic ovals, as seen from above Nats Park.
An overhead view of the revamped Douglass Bridge ramp and intersection at Potomac Avenue, as seen from Nationals Park, in May 2008. In the new design of this intersection, the traffic oval's northeast edge will meet with the ballpark's promenade entrance at far right. The new bridge itself will be "behind" (to the southwest) of the ramp seen here. The industrial area at left is the Florida Rock/RiverFront project, which will eventually also occupy the land where the current bridge arrives on the western shore. (5/26/08)
Looking northward on South Capitol Street at R Street/Water Street, in October 2005, before the demolition of the viaduct north of Potomac Avenue. This location would be the southern tip of the traffic oval in the new configuration, with the new bridge meeting the oval just to the right of this spot. (10/05)
Looking to the southeast at Water and South Capitol, where the new bridge would arrive from across the Anacostia. (10/05)
Someday there will be miles of waterfront amenities along the Anacostia; right now, not so much. (This is at South Capitol, north of S Street, right where the new bridge will arrive on the north shore.) (10/05)
South Capitol's terminus, at S Street. Plans call for parks or some sort of public use from this spot south to the river. (10/05)
In July and August 2007 DDOT undertook a $27 million major reconfiguration to dismantle the existing 400 feet of raised viaduct from Potomac Avenue north to O Street, with an additional 200 feet of the bridge from south of Potomac Avenue to the river's edge being lowered using jacks, allowing the bridge to come to street level at Potomac Avenue.
Standing in the middle of the South Capitol Street/Potomac Avenue intersection, looking south, in July 2007. The old bridge didn't reach ground level until three blocks further to the north, at O Street, and the Potomac Avenue intersection was a scary dark spot. (07/07)
November 3, 2019 - The same spot, reopened.
A stitched-together view looking east toward the South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue intersection, in January 2007. (01/07)
And the same location, six months after the reopening of the bridge, on the day of its rededication. (3/13/08)
An overhead view of the new Douglass Bridge ramp and intersection at Potomac Avenue, as seen from the Nationals Ballpark, in May 2008. (5/26/08)
The new iron railings between the right-of-way and the sidewalk were in place by the time the bridge reopened, though the bridge's new side railings still awaited installation. The historic "globe" lights across the length of the bridge are visible here. (8/29/07)
Looking south down the new South Capitol Street from the ballpark, in May 2008. The old viaduct used to begin at the bottom center of the photo. (5/26/08)
Looking north up South Capitol Street from south of Potomac Avenue, in October, 2005, gives a good idea of how the old viaduct split the boulevard down the middle. (10/05)
November 3, 2019 - The same spot, with the viaduct gone and South Capitol Street reopened.
This was the view for many years from underneath the current Frederick Douglass Bridge, looking north, on Potomac Avenue. (09/04)
February 26, 2017 - The same spot, reopened.
A view north on South Capitol Street from south of O Street, up on the viaduct, in January 2006. (01/06)
March 17, 2019 - The same view, now at grade.
Standing on the Douglass Bridge looking to the north-northeast, a few days before the July 6, 2007, closure. (06/07)
The same location, five weeks after the bridge was closed for demolition and lowering. To see the changes, follow the bridge from the far left in both photos to see how the viaduct is now gone, and the ramp to street level starts much earlier. You can see at left the iron pieces where the new railing will be built--the old green railing at right will also be replaced with a new wrought-iron structure. (The Nationals' administration building is now under construction at rear right, next to the ballpark.) (8/15/07)
The new ramp, leading up from Potomac Avenue, now connected to the original bridge structure. (8/15/07)
This is what you saw if you stood in the "center" of South Capitol Street at P Street, looking south, until July 2007. (10/05)
March 17, 2019 - The same location, slightly different.
... And turning to look north, standing in the "center" of South Capitol Street at P Street, just before the demolition. (06/07)
March 17, 2019 - Exactly the same spot. Really, honestly, truly. It just about makes me cry.
The start of the South Capitol Street viaduct, looking south from about O Street, in January 2007. (Don't worry, the street was closed that day, I wasn't about to be killed.) (01/07)
April 17, 2016 - The same location, now slightly different.
If you're a commuter affected by the summer closure of the Douglass Bridge, take one moment out from your justified grousing to give thanks that you don't live in the 1400 block of South Capitol Street; this is what the view out their front doors looked like for years and years, and they dealt with construction 20 hours a day seven days a week during the eight-week closure of the bridge. (7/1/07)
The new vista. (11/11/07)
A lot of people were inconvenienced by this bridge demolition, but it should be remembered that the goal was to change from a gritty industrial speedway to an urban boulevard showcasing the Capitol dome and a new ballpark. (6/16/07)
Yeah. Like that. (10/21/07)
The bridge in mid-demolition, at South Capitol and P, looking at the north side of P Street under the bridge. (7/8/07)
... And looking southward down South Capitol under the bridge from south of P Street. (7/8/07)
The Lowering, July 19
On July 19, the northernmost 200 feet of the remaining bridge was lowered two inches every hour on hydraulic jacks, from a few inches at the shoreline to 51 inches at its northern edge. (This shot is about 15 hours into the lowering. I can't believe I didn't think to take it during my morning visit!) (7/19/07)
This is the bridge's northern edge one hour into the process; the new earth-fill ramp up from Potomac Ave. is at left. (7/19/07)
The same location, seven hours later, about 90 minutes before the lowering was completed. Not a dramatic difference, but a difference nonetheless. (7/19/07)
The underside of the northern edge of the ramp, at the two-hour mark; you can see the hydraulic jacks, with four feet of lowering still to go. (7/19/07)
The same angle, seven hours later, and about 90 minutes before the lowering was completed. Look at the silver hydraulic jacks to get a feeling for the amount the bridge has been lowered. (7/19/07)
A closer view of the configuration of the jacks and the new columns, one hour into the lowering. (You can see one of the sheared-off old columns still hanging from the bridge in the center.) (7/19/07)
The same spot, seven hours later. Look at the silver jacks to tell the amount the bridge has been lowered. The new columns are in place as well. (7/19/07)
Looking south at the two other sets of jacks in place beneath the bridge, one hour into the lowering. The new columns in the foreground show the final height of this portion. (7/19/07)
A system of pulleys helped to keep the bridge in place during the lowering. (7/19/07)
(Top left) The configuration of the Douglass Bridge before July 2007 as it came across the north/west shore of the Anacostia River. Potomac Avenue ran underneath the viaduct at the rear of the image.
(Top right) What the South Capitol and Potomac intersection will look like after the makeover is finished. (The stadium will be at the upper right, on the northeast corner of the intersection.)
(Bottom left) An envisioning of what the intersection will look like when the stadium is finished and with other possible potential development.
Portion of a Washington Post graphic detailing how it will be accomplished; See the complete graphic for additional details.