There’s been a lot of talk about the state of our nation’s infrastructure, including a large number of structurally deficient bridges. So it’s comforting to see a good deal of work underway or planned to upgrade or even replace many bridges in the Washington region.
It seems that every day we receive some notice about a bridge being refurbished, widened, or even replaced. This is a good thing, despite the inevitable traffic headaches when things are going on.
It’s worth noting that the Washington area does a reasonably good job of keeping bridges in shape compared to other parts of the country. Fewer than 10 percent of the bridges in the area are considered structurally deficient, and all three local jurisdictions have fewer bad bridges than a year ago.
Here’s a look at some of the bridge projects, large and small, that are underway or planned.
District of Columbia
New Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge - This is the most high-profile bridge project in the region. The District broke ground on the new six-lane bridge over the Anacostia River in February and includes a whole series of infrastructure changes, including a new I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange, new traffic oval at each side of the river, and lots of pedestrian and bike-friendly improvements. The new bridge is expected to be done in 2021.
Anacostia Freeway Over Nicholson Street - The District Department of Transportation is undergoing a six-phase project to rehab the I-295 bridge deck.
Park Valley Road Bridge - Work started in July to replace this bridge over the Sligo Creek in Montgomery County. The new bridge will replace one originally constructed in 1931. Access to the bridge will be blocked until at least the fall of next year. Drivers should follow a 1.2-mile detour on Park Valley Road, Piney Branch Road, and Sligo Creek Parkway. As part of the bridge construction, crews will realign part of the Sligo Creek Trail to allow for better bike and pedestrian access.
Harry W. Nice Bridge - Maryland is setting aside more than $700 million for a new bridge to replace the 75-year-old structure crossing the Potomac River from Charles County, MD to King County, VA. The state is hoping to select a contractor this year, with groundbreaking in 2020. The existing bridge is only one lane in each direction, and there are significant backups every weekend. The new bridge would double the number of travel lanes and allow for bike and pedestrian crossings.
Route 27 Over Route 110 - VDOT is working to complete the repair and modification of the Washington Boulevard Bridge, which carries 50,000 vehicles per day. When complete, the bridge will be nine feet wider and more than 400 feet longer.
Arlington Memorial Bridge - The National Park Service wants to perform a full rehabilitation of the bridge this fall. Without it, officials said deteriorating conditions could force the bridge to close by 2021. Preparations are already underway to prepare the bridge for a full rehab of the bridge, which is more than 90 years old.
Springfield Interchanges - Work crews recently wrapped up work on two bridges along ramps from I-495 (Capital Beltway) to the northbound I-395 main lanes. The $7.5 million project also included work on the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge.
New I-95 Bridge Over Rappahannock - Work has begun on a $132 million project to add capacity to I-95 in the Frederick area. This includes a new bridge over the Rappahannock River to accommodate southbound general purpose lanes. Construction will continue through the spring of 2022.