transportation

DC's Frederick Douglass Bridge Is Set to Open a Month Early

The new bridge, distinctive with all of its arches, is about to open to the public

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It’s not every day you get to talk about a construction project that’s actually ahead of schedule – but the massive new Frederick Douglass Bridge in Southeast D.C. is set to open early.

You’ll be able to drive, walk or bike across the brand-new Frederick Douglass Bridge starting the week of Sept. 6, a full month ahead of schedule, according to project leaders and the mayor's office.

"We’ve seen the progress on the bridge go ... and it’s exciting to hear that a project is ahead of schedule," D.C. resident Ashley Bruggemann said.

Bruggeman has lived in the area for a year. She’s hoping this project not only changes trips across the Anacostia River but also changes the streets around the base of the bridge.

"Crossing as a pedestrian over at Potomac Avenue and South Capitol is risky," she said. "So hopefully, it helps with pedestrians and for bikers and not just for cars."

(L-R) Director of the District Department of Transportation Everett Lott, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tour the construction site atop the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Also known as the South Capitol Street bridge, it carries South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River.

Haley Beath, who lives nearby, is hopeful that the notorious traffic that used to crawl across the bridge pre-pandemic doesn’t come back.

”I don’t think traffic is going to be as bad as it was in the past, because I think a lot of people are going to have flex schedules and be able to work from home more," Beath said.

The old Douglass bridge is still standing right next to the new bridge. It will need to be deconstructed piece by piece. That process will start in the coming weeks.

The work on the new bridge started back in 2017.

"This is a $441 million initiative," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at the time. "It is the largest construction project in the history of the District of Columbia."

D.C. leaders say a 5K race is being planned around the bridge to celebrate its opening.

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