Saving the South Capitol Bridge as an exclusive pedestrian and bicycle bridge
Brendan Reals from Fine Art America.
Last week I suggested ("The Anacostia River and considering the bridges as a unit and as a premier element of public art and civic architecture") that the city should plan the Anacostia River bridges as an ensemble.
At this week's design advisory meetings for the 11th Street Bridge Park project, in a side conversation, one of the committee members suggested that when a new South Capitol Street Bridge is constructed, that the current Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge could be retained as a walking and biking bridge.
In order for that to happen, the idea needs to be integrated into the bridge planning and reconstruction process now.
Grand opening, Walkway over the Hudson. Flickr photo by Andy Milford.
One example of this kind of project happening elsewhere is the Walkway Over The Hudson. From the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park website:
The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was built in the late 19th century to link New York and New England to an extensive, nationwide railway network. For decades, it was a major rail corridor for both freight and passengers.
After a fire in 1974, the bridge was abandoned and sat for decades as an orphaned relic. This brand new park was made possible due to the unwavering commitment of the community, who, through a non-profit organization called Walkway Over the Hudson, forged a public private partnership involving the State of New York, the federal government, neighboring municipalities, private corporations and other not for profit groups.In 2010 the bridge was lighted and it happens that just this week, a new element to the bridge park, an elevator, opened. See "Walkway Over the Hudson elevator makes grand debut" from the Poughkeepsie Journal. According to the article, more than 700,000 use the bridge each year.
While claims of it being the longest pedestrian bridge in the world are not credible, another example of the repurposing of a bridge exclusively for pedestrian (and bicycle) traffic, is the Walnut Street Bridge, which crosses the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.
Given that the river crossing conditions on South Capitol Street for pedestrians and bicyclists are so sub-par, this concept of retaining the current bridge for walking and biking would be a significant enhancement to the city's public realm and walking and biking infrastructure.