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."
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 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.