Where is the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge?

June 15, 2023

The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge connects communities on both sides of the Anacostia River and carries upward of 77,000 vehicles each day. It replaced the original swing bridge built in 1950 and renamed in honor of 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The six-lane, fixed span bridge has a vertical clearance 42ft below the structure and a horizontal clearance of 150ft. It also features a riverfront esplanade and new bike/pedestrian paths.

In addition to its functional needs, the bridge is a symbol of a more inclusive and just vision for community development. Its construction has fueled housing growth in Wards 7 and 8 and expanded the boundaries of those neighborhoods, helping them to thrive with access to jobs, transportation, education, parks, and other amenities. The bridge also bolsters the local economy, improving business opportunities in Historic Anacostia, Congress Heights, and Kenilworth, as well as providing better access to Nationals Park and the District Wharf.

The project is part of the larger South Capitol Street Corridor project, which will transform the area into a grand urban boulevard reflecting Major Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for the nation’s capital. BEAM served as lead designer for the new bridge, developing a multiple arch design incorporating above-deck arches that feature three sets of lighted parallel arches that rise high above the deck and cascade to water level along v-piers. The resulting form is both sculptural and functional, and it enhances the aesthetic of the surrounding riverfront and heightens the bridge’s gateway character as a entry to South Capitol Street.


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