On Tuesday, Nov 28th the team behind the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, also known as the South Capitol Street Bridge, presented to a public meeting of more than 100 people, including representatives of several Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANC), community organizations and residents.
Representatives included District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Program Manager Delmar Lytle, Senior Project Manager Michael Tedaldi of Granite Construction Northeast and South Capitol Bridgebuilders and Field Representative Stephen Courtien of the Community Hub for Opportunities in Construction Employment (CHOICE).
The meeting began with a short presentation on the plans for the new bridge, which will replace the 68-year-old bridge currently in use and reconstruct the Suitland Parkway/I-295 interchange. Lytle began with the reasons the bridge needs to be replaced, introducing Tedaldi to discuss construction plans and timelines followed by Courtien, who discussed apprenticeship and employment opportunities.
The 68 year-old Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge has been declared functionally obsolete, and must be replaced due to condition and functional limitations. Lytle said that the new bridge will allow for safer, more comfortable use by pedestrians and cyclists.
Bridgebuilders representative Tedaldi said that the construction on the project was expected to begin in late winter or early spring 2018 and conclude in summer 2022, after which time the new bridge would be put in use and the demolition of the old bridge would begin. He said the demolition process was expected to take six months.
Construction on the East Oval and the bridge itself would begin between January and June 2018. Construction on the West Oval and South Capitol Street portions, located near Nationals Stadium, will be deferred until July 2018 after the Major League Baseball All Star Game is scheduled.
Tedaldi said that the South Capitol Bridgebuilders were looking for qualified Disadvantaged Business Contractors (DBE) “in every aspect of construction,” and encouraged those interested in participating to contact the South Capitol Bridge Builders online at southcapbridgeproject.com
Coutien said that CHOICE will promote opportunities through partnerships in pre-apprenticeship and jointly managed apprenticeship programs throughout the project, placing District residents in four-year apprenticeship programs that will provide on the job career training in the building and construction trades. Interested parties should apply at www.choiceworks.org
After the hour-long presentation, the team took questions from the assembled. Many focused on construction logistics. ANC 6D07 Commissioner Meredit Fascett asked if construction plans called for after-hours work, and when pile-driving might take place. DDOT Program Manager Lytle answered that there was no variance currently in place for construction before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., and so after-hours construction was not anticipated.
Tedaldi added that while the timing of pile-driving was not yet known, the first phase was likely to take place in February and the second in June, but none was expected to take place before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m..
Another resident asked if construction traffic, in particular dump truck traffic, from and to Maryland was being coordinated among the many construction projects in the area. Lytle said that representatives from the projects met monthly to do so, but as projects move forward those meetings could increase in frequency.
Other residents asked about the green space near the traffic ovals, indicated as recreational areas in the plans. Lytle said that at this point DDOT intended for those areas to remain for recreational use, though he cautioned that other stakeholders could see fit to change those plans. He was less clear on the details of pedestrian access to the space across the traffic ovals though he noted that there would be a traffic light or a hawk light to assist in crossing.
Others asked questions about the access to and use of the waterways, with DDOT representatives saying that the channel would be open throughout construction, and the bridge clearly marked.
Finally, some residents had questions about the apprenticeship program, asking how many spaces were available and about the source of funding for training. Courtien clarified that the programs operated continually year-round and were facilitated by organizations that had been doing so for many years, although he asked those interested in precise numbers to contact him directly.
After public question and answers, attendees were encouraged to stay to discuss matters of particular concern with the project team. Each had been given a form asking for written comments and suggestions.
ANC 6B04 Commissioner and Chair of the Transportation Committee Kirsten Oldenburg attended the meeting and said that she was excited that the project was finally getting off the ground. “It’s a good start,” she said of the meeting, “a refresher from previous discussion that I was involved in,” adding that it was a beautifully designed bridge before noting she was looking forward to hearing more details.
The next opportunity to meet the South Capitol Street Corridor-Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Project team is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today, Wednesday, Nov 29th at Thurgood Marshall Academy (2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE).
All are welcome to attend. Please visit www.goDCgo.com to learn about transportation options for travel to this public meeting, and www.southcapbridgeproject.com to learn more about the project. If you cannot attend the meeting, please feel free to submit comments and questions via email to the project contact at [email protected]