Southeast DC

Cracks Visible on Frederick Douglass Bridge Arches

DDOT said they will repair the cracks in the spring

NBC Universal, Inc.

D.C.'s newest bridge is beginning to show cracks.

The Frederick Douglass Bridge in Southeast D.C., which opened in September 2021, has visible cracks on nearly all of its arches. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has classified these as “microcracks," but some residents remain concerned.

When on the bridge, the cracks appear on the piers that support its large white arches. Up close, the cracks are large enough to take up the entire space of a hand.

In a statement, DDOT addressed the cracks and said they are not structural:

“The cracks result from a very high-strength concrete mix that was used which had a low water-to-cement ratio. Surface water can evaporate from the structure due to the heat of the concrete during the curing process. This is what causes the superficial cracks to appear during the first year.”

A resident who watched the bridge be built from the ground up said they were surprised.

“For a new bridge to have cracks this soon, it makes you wonder, yeah,” the resident said. “They may say it’s structurally sound, but there are lots of bridges in this country that are supposedly structurally sound, you know, and the next thing you know they start crumbling.”

Another resident who was running across the bridge with his child also expressed concern.

“Yeah, it doesn’t look good, I mean they spent enough money on it, so I hope it’s not a big problem,” the resident said.

A contractor will start aesthetic repairs at no extra cost in the spring. DDOT said the warm temperatures will help the material that’s applied to the cracks.

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