Washington, D.C. will replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge to the tune of $441 million. Engineering firm AECOM is leading the design of the new bridge with Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction carrying out the project.

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge originally opened 67 years ago in 1950. A swing bridge, it allows South Capitol Street to span the Anacostia River, connecting Nationals Park and Anacostia Park. More than 75,000 commuters have been taking advantage of the bridge on a daily basis since 2007. The new design will include traffic ovals on either side with greenery and pedestrian plazas added to South Capitol Street around its entrances.

In 2014, the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) asked four teams to submit proposals for a new bridge; their schemes would also have to include the current bridge’s demolition. The winning submission from “South Capitol Bridge Builders” (comprised of AECOM, Archer Western Construction, and Granite Construction) saw off competition from three other teams: Tutor Perini, T.Y. Lin International Group, and StantecSkanska AB, Facchina Group, and Parsons Transportation; and Kiewit Corporation, Corman Construction, and URS Corporation.

AECOM’s proposal does away with the original swing design and implements a wider (six-lane), fixed span bridge instead. Scheduled to be complete in 2021, it will be the largest construction undertaking in the District’s history, with the project including a remodelling of the Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295 interchange. 

“Investing in our infrastructure is key to how we can continue to be a growing city and the best city in the world, and improving our bridges is very critical to this mission,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post.

The project is a long time coming. In 1974 the bridge was re-decked, a process which was repeated just 14 years later. In 2007 it was closed for more than a month while a $27 million renovation took place, the work of which was supposed to extend its lifespan by 20 years.

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