Frederick Douglass/South Capitol Street Bridge

Plans are underway to design and build a new Anacostia River bridge crossing on South Capitol Street. The bridge will be shifted slightly to the south from its current location, terminating in a new traffic rotary at South Capitol, R, and Potomac Streets. Preliminary design work and land acquistion began in 2012, and an RFQ for the first two phases of the project was released in spring 2013. In the meantime, the bridge closed from July 6 to Aug. 29, 2007 to remove three blocks of elevated road on South Capitol Street.

Links: | The Anacostia Waterfront: South Capitol Street
July 2013 DDOT Presentation on South Capitol Street Bridge and Corridor Project
2007 Bridge/Street Improvements: FAQ, Slides, Graphics (3/07)
Rededication Ceremony (3/13/08)
DDOT Studies: South Cap. Gateway & Improvement Study | Middle Anacostia River Crossings
JD's South Capitol Street Bridge News Items & Additional Links

            New Bridge Overview            2007 Bridge Makeover            News Items            

While DDOT continues to work on the plans for a new Frederick Douglass Bridge, they undertook in July and August 2007 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. Read DDOT's summary of the plans, or watch this DDOT video for more information.

Want even more photos of the changed face of South Capitol Street? See the Extended Photo Archive.

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)

The same spot, reopened. (2/09/08) Click to see all available photos of this location.

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)  Click to see all available photos of this location.


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)

The same spot, with the viaduct gone and South Capitol Street reopened. (3/23/08) Click to see all available photos of this location.

This was the view for many years from underneath the current Frederick Douglass Bridge, looking north, on Potomac Avenue. (09/04)

The same spot, reopened. (4/11/08) Click to see all available photos of this location.

A view north on South Capitol Street from south of O Street, up on the viaduct, in January 2006. (01/06)

The same view, now at grade. (11/11/12) Click to see all available photos of this location.


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)

The same location, slightly different. (8/03/08) Click to see all available photos of this location.

... And turning to look north, standing in the "center" of South Capitol Street at P Street, just before the demolition. (06/07)

Exactly the same spot. Really, honestly, truly. It just about makes me cry. (3/14/13) Click to see all available photos of this location.

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)

The same location, now slightly different. (3/23/08) Click to see all available photos of this location.

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)

Hopefully they think the noise and dust and clamor was worth the new vista they're about to get. (8/18/07)

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.

            New Bridge Overview            2007 Bridge Makeover            News Items            

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