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11th Street Bridge Park: A Lot to Look Forward To

The 11th Street Bridge Park, scheduled for completion by early 2026, will be the first elevated park in the nation’s capital – literally a park that is also a bridge. Stretching across the Anacostia River, the 11th Street Bridge Park will connect the city’s Navy Yard with the Anacostia neighborhoods in Southeast D.C., particularly the historically disenfranchised neighborhoods of Anacostia, Fairlawn and Barry Farm east of the river.

What has taken the time and consumed part of the budget were a series of steps to assure that the Bridge Park does not decrease the welfare and economic affordability of life for those on the Anacostia side of the River.  There are intentional efforts to avoid displacement of current residents, increase homeownership in Black communities, and address unemployment rates. For example, renters of houses, apartments and business spaces might be essentially driven out by the increased rents resulting from increased demand because of the bridge project. So there should be a broad community-driven set of projects grounded in equity to mitigate this issue.

Building Bridges Across the River (Building-Bridges), the non-profit that will be in charge of the Bridge Park, is now active in the communities. As explained by Scott Kratz, Senior Vice President of Building Bridges, the idea is to expand beyond the construction of the new bridge and reach out to communities ahead of construction and make them want to join the others already in the mix of groups and neighborhoods to help design what should be in the Bridge Park and surrounding areas.  A video about the resident-driven solutions addressing displacement concerns was produced by Pendragwn Productions and nominated for an Emmy.

It all seems to be working and spreading among neighborhoods and groups long at work in trying to deal with these issues.  Three leaders have been especially important:

Kristina Noel leads the Anacostia Business Improvement District with a number of partnerships helping small businesses east of the River through technical assistance and cash grants.

Anesa Saunders runs the Skyland Workforce Center, where the 37th construction training program in advance of groundbreaking at the 11th Street Bridge Park was recently completed.

Carrie Vaughn is Director of Farms for the Bridge-Park Program of  the 11th Street Bridge Project.  Six bridge-park plots are planned to join other urban farms up and down the River.

Once the 11th Street Bridge Project opens for business, there will be classes indoors and outdoors on how best to grow all manner of plants.  Families, school classes and individuals will all be welcome to join.  There will also be docks where boats can be docked or rented. And many walks at all levels from one side of the River to the other.   These will be filled with vistas of the River, distant boats and bridges.

A lot to look forward to!

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