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Douglass Bridge Work Continues

Just below where your tires roll across the Frederick Douglass Bridge, workers continue to fix or replace parts of the structure. Along South Capitol Street, where construction of the new Nationals stadium continues to make dramatic progress, other crews are at work on the roadway and sidewalks.

Riveting.jpg Riveter works on girder below bridge deck. (Robert Thomson)

But the District is done with lane closures, and the remaining work is pretty much something to entertain commuters rather than annoy them. What they'll see on the bridge includes the continuing replacement of the old railings with a darker, more attractive design that resembles the one used on Pennsylvania Avenue's Sousa Bridge.
Out of sight below the deck, in a big box-like area of pale gray steel, workers are riveting new bolts into place while either refurbishing or replacing aging parts of the structure across the Anacostia River.

Aside from making the whole thing look better as a southern gateway to central Washington, the work will extend the life of the bridge until it can be replaced by a new structure the city plans to build right nearby.

Bridge Guts.jpg Construction area below the bridge deck. Shadow at top is a passing vehicle. (Robert Thomson)

The District Department of Transportation hopes to wrap up the Douglass Bridge rehabilitation and South Capitol Street streetscape project in February, after about a year of work that began last winter with some off-peak closures on the bridge and climaxed this summer with its complete shutdown for two months.

Since then, project leaders say, they've gotten some complaints and questions from travelers about the new traffic light on the north side of the bridge, just before the stadium. The role of the signal in opening up the neighborhood and easing east-west movement should become clearer, they say, once the construction wraps up and Potomac Avenue opens. (There won't be any left turns allowed at the intersection.)

Steel Work.jpg A length of aging steel awaiting replacement. (Robert Thomson)

I heard plenty of complaints about the intersection as a concept, back before the summertime shutdown, but after the bridge reopened in late August, I heard mostly about the pavement. There were some rough spots, and the manhole covers stuck up above the asphalt. When I drove it, I had the same experience that readers complained about.

But what we were traveling over was the base layer of pavement. During the recent lane closures, a final layer was put down and the surface looks great now.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 19, 2007; 7:59 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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