Greater Greater Washington

Architecture


Design could make or break the 11th Street Bridge Park

Washington has long turned its back on the Anacostia River, and in turn the neighborhoods east of the river. The 11th Street Bridge Park could become one of the city's most distinctive places, turning disused bridge structures into a connector and destination. With a design competition now underway, all that's left to do is design and build it.


An early park rendering by Ed Estes.

That's a tall order, but the project was born out of ingenuity. The proposed park takes advantage of foundations left over from one of the 1960s highway bridges. Rather than connect Capitol Hill to Anacostia, the highways isolated both.

Originally intended to feed the inner loop freeway, the old bridges were great for driving through the riverfront neighborhoods on the way to something else. When the city rebuilt the bridges in 2012, the city was left with an obsolete, but not totally useless, bridge next to the new local span.


The Bridge Park site. Image by the author using base from Google Maps.

The possibility of doing something with the remnants stuck in the mind of Scott Kratz, who at the time worked at the National Building Museum. At a meeting with then-Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning, he brought up the concept of reusing the bridge. To his surprise, she immediately thought it was a great idea.

Since then, Kratz has been figuring out the details and building support for the Bridge Park, now working full-time on this project at THEARC in Congress Heights. That organization has held 195 meetings on both sides of the river to find out what the bridge would need to be, with a focus on reaching out to residents who often feel ignored in efforts to improve the city.

Now, THEARC and its appropriately named parent organization, Building Bridges Across the River, are looking to open the dialogue to everyone who benefits from the Anacostia. Since the park will likely be privately funded but publicly owned, raising the $35 million required to build and endow the bridge park will be a major goal. The other key part will be a design competition.

The Bridge Park must be more than a park

Given the precarious site and high cost, this project is risky. Getting the design right can make all of the difference between a world-class park and a white elephant, as Dan Malouff has previously noted.

Rather than stage an ostentatious open competition where flashy, iconic images predominate, Kratz went to the communities first. Some of those 195 meetings were charrettes, design meetings where stakeholders identified what was missing from their neighborhoods and how the bridge could fix them. When professionals do get involved later this month, they'll be screened based on their experience working with communities as much as design skill.


An early park rendering by Ed Estes.

Participants in the outreach meetings have focused on a few ideas for the park again and again. Because the East of the River neighborhoods face high obesity and hypertension rates, active recreation figures prominently in visions for the park. This includes playgrounds, as well as conventional sports areas, since there isn't one in Anacostia proper. In a similar vein, the Bridge Park staff are interested in introducing urban agriculture to the bridge, possibly fruit trees.

Encouraging residents to interact with the river is another goal. This might mean a dock as much as a environmental education center. Artistic output forms the final side: an outdoor performance space, or even a facility for an arts nonprofit could be part of the project. In general, Kratz sees art as crucial to letting the community take ownership of the park when it opens.

Turning the site's challenges into opportunities

I would like to see programs that take advantage of the elevated site. Since it's not an automobile bridge, the Bridge Park doesn't need to be flat, symmetrical, or even the same width all the way across. A skate park might suit the site perfectly. It's a loud activity that needs uneven terrain to play up its acrobatic elements.

Urban agriculture, on the other hand, seems counterintuitive. Planting beds would require importing large volumes of dirt and building a heavy-duty structure to support it. There are sites in Anacostia on actual land that seem more obvious for a farm.


The site boasts incredible views. How can the park make them even better? Photo by the author.

The main challenge the site faces is its isolation from busy streets. The first piers of the Bridge Park are ¼ mile from Good Hope Road on one side. On the other side, M Street SE is a long walk along the Navy Yard's fences and a highway viaduct.

Kratz realizes this problem, so he worked with students from Virginia Tech to find every possible connection, especially to the Anacostia Riverfront Trail. They proposed lighting and community art to enliven the sidewalks to M Street and Good Hope Road. Arriving with a gym bag might still present an obstacle, so Kratz is working with DDOT to install a stop for the Anacostia streetcar, which will run over the new bridge.

Streetcar access will be the most important factor in drawing residents to the active recreation sites. For casual recreation, how the designers locate activity areas could make those walks easier. With major attractions at either abutment of the bridge, visitors would come to pick up their kid from an event and kill time by talking a walk down to see the great view downriver.

Bridge Park needs to feel like a place to succeed

These designers will face a site pretty much unlike any other. Journalists frequently compare the Bridge Park to New York's High Line, but there are several crucial differences. For one, the High Line runs for 1.45 miles through dense neighborhoods, well connected to the streets below.

Reusing the entire structure of an old railroad viaduct, the High Line was stuck with relatively tight dimensions, ranging from 30 to 88 feet. That's about size of a tennis court. The 11th Street Bridge Park has the potential to stand 160 feet wide and 800 feet long, around the size of three professional football fields end-to-end.

And pedestrian bridges sometimes have places to rest, but they rarely are destinations by themselves. There are a few unbuilt parallels, like Thomas Heatherwick's Garden Bridge in London, or OMA's Jean-Jacques Bosc bridge in Bordeaux, but those still function primarily as transportation infrastructure.

There is one project that has actually gets beyond the transportation deck: a pedestrian bridge in Providence. Reusing the piers of what had been a highway bridge right through the center of town, the new bridge connects two sections of a greenway.


Providence Bridge Park, a glimpse of our possible future. Image from PVD Planning.

Architect inForm and engineer Buro Happold created a structure that varies width and height: In one place, a delicate bridge, while on the other, it's grassy steps down to the river. With all of this three-dimensional variation, the designers were able to put a café in the middle.


The Providence Bridge Park is landscaped, not flat. Section drawings from PVD Planning.

What's nice about the Providence project is that it looks a lot like a street: it has the multi-layered activity that happens when people are passing by, relaxing, working, and working out. To be successful, the Anacostia Bridge Park needs to sustain this kind of activity. The design of the project, from how the activities are arranged to the way it interprets the river artistically is what will do that.

The designers' test will be to take the communities' desires and layer them within architecture that connects the mundane to something bigger in the context. In other words, the park should make a basketball game feel as connected to MLK Boulevard as to the flow of water underneath. The players should sense that they're playing 20 feet in the air and a mile from the Capitol.

The bridge park can't solve that many problems. But it can create a place of confluence between the city's different constituencies. If everyone feels they own this park, it can be part of a more inclusive revitalization of Washington.

To find out more about the Bridge Park, please visit bridgepark.org. The design competition will be announced on March 20th.

Neil Flanagan grew up in Ward 3 before graduating from the Yale School of Architecture. He is pursuing an architecture license. He writes on architecture and Russia at цarьchitect

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Please. Do these grand plans ever play out the way that they're envisioned? This isn't Sim City, and you can't compel people to use this facility in any particular manner.

I hope it works, I really do (and I mean that). But my guess is that if they build it, in 10 years it will be largely unused (save for through bikers) and overrun with weeds. We all know it will play out this way.

by come on on Mar 11, 2014 10:29 am • linkreport

It's gotta have a decent number of trees. And/or something for plenty of shade. The rest I'll let the smart designers figure out. But without some cover, it's going to be miserable after May until October.

by Steve D on Mar 11, 2014 10:32 am • linkreport

I'm also concerned this is a bit of a stretch. That is a very, very long bridge and without substantial activity going on at each end (and there is not), I don't see it drawing enough people on a regular basis. The garden bridge video is great, but it shows what this is not: a short bridge spanning dense areas of a city that provides green space as well as a pedestrian route. I'd certainly visit this site once or twice a year on ideal weather days, but the other 360+ days of the year it wouldn't draw me there - who wants to walk a long bridge in November or March?

by JDC on Mar 11, 2014 10:38 am • linkreport

At least on nice days people mob the Key Bridge, and their are walkers on most of the other downtown bridges - anyone who cycles across the Case bridge on a nice weekend has encountered peds (as well as lots of runners).

The key is activity at both ends - but Navy Yard is booming, and Anacostia is the next hot thing (maybe?)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2014 10:42 am • linkreport

I think it's a nice idea in the abstract, but like other commentators, I think it's a bit far removed from reality. 295 seems to be the biddest fly in the ointment in that it's an impassable barrier for most of Annacostia to approach the river in any humane way. If it was redesigned to function as a parkway between east and west of the river DC, it might make the use of this bridge more accessible. Maybe 295 needs to be sunk in places, but the whole relationship to Anacostia in downtown should be re-thought. Unlike the Potomac, the Anacostia has a more intimate width and as such provides great opportinities to stitch together both sides of the city with beautiful bridges and buildings interspersed with parks. But with all the highways there, it dosen't seem likely until DC has a thorough and interconnected transit system that actually deliveres the 70% of traffic trips that they envision.

by Thayer-D on Mar 11, 2014 10:47 am • linkreport

It seems success would depend on developing the north bank east of the freeway, as well as Anacostia. Far-fetched for today, plausible for tomorrow.

by BJ on Mar 11, 2014 10:49 am • linkreport

"It seems success would depend on developing the north bank east of the freeway"
http://www.jdland.com/dc/eastm.cfm?tab=no2

"Cohen, developer of the Velocity Condos at 1st and L, now is proposing a four-phase, three-building project with 673 residential units and 10,370 square feet of retail use"

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

That's impressive. They need to figure out the street grid there.

by BJ on Mar 11, 2014 11:30 am • linkreport

First, the bridge needs to function as a "to get to the other side" bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists. In order to do that, it needs to have safe and attractive access points on either side of the river.

Once these basics are taken care of, the provision of play areas and spots to sit to enjoy the view would be the best boons for local and visitor use.

I too think shade in important but we must figure out a largely vandal-proof way to have trees and shrubs planted so that they can be watered [the High Line landscaping has hoses snaking from unseen water system accesses along most of its length], allowed to drain, and protected from inadvertent human damage. It that is not possible, then other shelter -- angled tarps on frames or some such thing -- is critical to make the park usable in the heat of summer.

Finally, it there is to be any large-scale "public art" installed, it should be done with full public consultation.
That process may be contentious and messy, but at least some of the public should be pleased by the results. [Cf, the sculpture on the New York Avenue railway overpass, which many of us would have objected to even if $800k had not been invested in the piers to keep it up.]

I do think this bridge park can -- like Yards Park -- help turn us into a more usable and charming city. Let's hope we don't mess it up.

by Fearing Dysphoria on Mar 11, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

How loud will it be on the Bridge Park from all the cars whizzing by on the 11th ST bridge? Will there be a smell of exhaust in the park?

I wonder if you're going to spend a lot of money making a beautiful, world class, landscaped urban park in the middle of the Anacostia River, if a portion of Kingman Island would make a better site than this bridge. Granted, their would be pushback from losing the wildness of a portion of Kingman but the environment in that location seems better suited for a park and the existing route of the H ST streetcar goes over the island.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

Falls Church: It's actually pretty quiet, and I'm sure they can find a way to further screen the area.

As for landscaping, what's exciting about this site is that there are things you can do with water and 3-dimensional space that are not possible elsewhere. Kingman Park would have a totally different experience.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 11, 2014 2:21 pm • linkreport

Why not just make the existing park more of a destination point? I really don't understand the value of putting this bridge park in place with the lovely Anacostia riverside park already there.

Also cut the crap about hypertension and weight loss (as if you really care).

by bullfrogcorner on Mar 11, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

As for landscaping, what's exciting about this site is that there are things you can do with water and 3-dimensional space that are not possible elsewhere. Kingman Park would have a totally different experience.

I'm not sure I understand how you can do different things with a bridge (which is just an island made of concrete) that you can't do with an actual island made of dirt like Kingman. Kingman is also 3-d (like all matter in the universe) and surrounded by water (like all islands). The best portion of Kingman to use is the small island with the Heritage Island Trail here:

http://goo.gl/maps/ll2S4

which is similar in size to the Bridge Park under consideration.

I could also see an argument for investing in the existing Anacostia riverside park which seems under-programmed and under-utilized but maybe it doesn't have the same potential since it's not an island.

by Falls Church on Mar 11, 2014 2:46 pm • linkreport

It's not that far from Yards Park on one end. And I think the key to making this work is putting a reason to go there. Bocce courts, food carts, programmed space, night movies, live music etc...

Why do people go to Yards Park? Not because it's close to anything, but because they have events there and they market it to attract people.

by David C on Mar 11, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

@David C:

Yes, people go to Yards Park for events and things, but another key to making it work is that it IS close to a lot of people. Most of the existing residential buildings in Navy Yard are now full, and there are literally 4 under construction right now, so there are more coming. I walk my dog through Yards Park daily, and the reason it "works" is because even when there isn't an event happening, it's close enough to enough people to still be full of activity when the weather's nice.

Another problem is distance; I agree that geographically, the bridge isn't far from Yards Park, but the riverwalk from Yards Park by the Navy Yard itself isn't in the best of shape and isn't very heavily-traveled. The other way to get to the bridge from the neighborhood is via M St SE, which aside from being a traffic sewer, is currently a brick wall on one side of the street and a couple buildings and a big parking lot on the other. It's not the most pleasant stroll in the world.

I want the bridge park to work as much as the next person, but I'm somewhat skeptical that it can right now.

by JES on Mar 11, 2014 2:56 pm • linkreport

Excellent article, and I do think this can be a world class park.

They will need every cent of that 35 million, though. And yes, Anacostia has already arrived. No longer a question mark. Where do I donate to the bridge endowment?

by h st ll on Mar 11, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

But M Street is supposed to be rebuilt, and there is more development coming along it and nearby.

I agree this should again refocus attention on the US Navy policy on the riverwalk.

It seems like access from Anacostia would still be an issue, but as Fearing Dys pointed out above, that needs to be addressed anyway, to make it work as a ped/bike bridge, even if there is no park facility on it.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2014 3:09 pm • linkreport

What a waste of money. To think that a bridge park is being built next to the city's second largest park. There are potholes everywhere, and the city is really supporting the idea of spending millions$ on this? How about a new (c)(3) called the Building First-World Roads Across the City, Inc?

by Burd on Mar 11, 2014 3:38 pm • linkreport

There are a few unbuilt parallels, like Thomas Heatherwick's Garden Bridge in London, or OMA's Jean-Jacques Bosc bridge in Bordeaux, but those still function primarily as transportation infrastructure.

We also have a local unbuilt near-parallel, Clothiel Woodward Smith's Washington Channel Bridge:

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/slideshows/photos/66/unbuilt-washington/22

by easternbranch on Mar 11, 2014 3:56 pm • linkreport

A: The rent is too damned high, make it easier to build denser

B: we don't need to do that, just move to Anacostia

A:Its too hard to walk from Anacostia to the rest of the city, and not enough amenities there

C: We can build a bridge/park that will make it very pleasant to walk/bike from Anacostia, and will also be an amenity encouraging folks to move to Anacostia

B: Don't build it, its too expensive!

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 11, 2014 4:15 pm • linkreport

Small edit- the hand-drawn renderings are actually by Ed Estes at the DC Office of Planning.

by LifeinBloomingdale on Mar 11, 2014 5:05 pm • linkreport

I appreciate that you recognize the clear difference between this project and the High Line. I think it has some potential but as long as one side ends in a highway interchange, it's going to very limited.

by BTA on Mar 11, 2014 6:22 pm • linkreport

I'm going to go out on a limb and say pedestrian access to the bridges is not among the top five reasons more people don't move to Anacostia anyway. That said the sheer number of people already living EOTR make better bike and ped connections a very worthwhile investment. Also I'd like to see much more effort put into developing the riverfront parks on both sides.

by BTA on Mar 11, 2014 6:34 pm • linkreport

I think this is the right idea in the wrong place. Better to wait until the South Capitol Street bridge is rebuilt, and use the old South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge. On either end you're close to a Metro (Anacostia/Navy Yard) enabling much easier access to the bridge as destination, and also to where folks are living and shopping. Also, more spectacular river views, imho.

The actual Navy Yard on the north side of the 11th Street proposal is a dead zone, and will remain so. It's quite a hike from the Navy Yard Metro to get to 11th Street.

These kinds of projects only make sense to me if the old bridge deck is retained. There are recreational spaces in Anacostia; I don't know why the article says there aren't? There's a pool and rec center, the entire Anacostia Waterfront Park, the basketball courts at Barry Farm. We don't need a bridge park to do everything -- the more modest High Line seems like a fine model for repurposing a replaced Douglass bridge.

by a change gon' come on Mar 12, 2014 8:17 am • linkreport

It would also be nice if an area or span included space for fishing.

by dk on Mar 12, 2014 9:52 am • linkreport

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say pedestrian access to the bridges is not among the top five reasons more people don't move to Anacostia anyway. "

:)

I think that pedestrian access ties in, though, to the other reasons. Clearly public safety is a big thing holding Anacostia back - the way other neighborhoods with public safety issues have bootstrapped up is by being "the next neighborhood over" from neighborhoods perceived as safer - thats harder to acccomplish when you are physically isolated. Now of course, adding better ped access doesn't change the sheer distance on foot between Historic Anacostia and the Navy Yard (about 3/4 of a mile from the Honfleur gallery to the riverwalk) and even a heavily programmed park in between isn't the same as having renovated townhouses or retail in between.

But I really do think if people are serious about "spreading the wealth east of the river" and "when I was young I helped pioneer Logan Circle/Shaw/etc why don't you pioneer EOTR" then improved bike/ped connectivity is essential.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Mar 12, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

Let me put it differently.

Where else in the city is there a neighborhood with the intensity of activity, and the rents/prices that Navy Yard has, and the next neighborhood over is not much further along in transitioning than than Historic Anacostia is?
I mean H Street isn't really as far along as Navy Yard, yet Trinidad is ultrahot. NoMa has fewer amenities (no park vs Canal Park and Yards Park, and did you say baseball?) yet its adjacent neighborhoods, Union Market, the Gateway, and even Eckinton, are further along than Anacostia.

Now partly its the sheer gap the river creates (a tradeoff for the benefits of the river) - but I think its also the difficulties of access.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Mar 12, 2014 10:12 am • linkreport

Getting from or to Anacostia is easy via public transit. It takes approximately 11 minutes by metrobus to get from the bus stop on Good Hope Road at 16th Street to Capitol Hill; 10 minutes during rush hour.

Itinerary
(approx 10 min transit)

Walk 0.08 mile N from 16XX U ST SE to GOOD HOPE RD & 16TH ST (E)

Bus Departs from
GOOD HOPE RD & 16TH ST (E)
at 7:14am
Board

92 BUS
towards REEVES CENTER - 14TH & U NW
Arrive SE 8TH ST & SE INDEPENDENCE AV
at 7:24am

Walk 0.42 mile W to 300 PENNSYLVANIA AVE SE

$ 1.60 SmarTrip Fare

$ 0.80 SmarTrip (Senior/Disabled/Medicare)
$ 1.80 Cash / Farecard
$ 0.90 Cash / Farecard (Senior/Disabled/Medicare)
(Only Cash & SmarTrip are accepted on Buses)

Source: WMATA Rider Tools

by bullfrogcorner on Mar 12, 2014 10:37 am • linkreport

Sure. But part of the appeal of urban living is being able to get places by walking or biking, and not relying on the bus. And its also how we knit neighborhoods together.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Mar 12, 2014 10:45 am • linkreport

Awitc when we're you last in Anacostia?

I would say h st is further along than navy yard (and h didn't have the city drop 700 million on a new ballpark, and the money on all those new parks, tho of course there is the streetcar). Not that it matters navy yard is a great neighborhood.

by hstll on Mar 12, 2014 10:45 am • linkreport

That the city dropped a lot of money on Navy Yard only reinforces my point - that DESPITE that, Anacostia hasnt picked up.

H Street has more bars and restaurants than Navy yard - though Navy Yard is catching up very fast. In terms of volume of residential development Navy Yard is ahead, and in terms of rent levels for that development, its about even - and of course the ball park and the two parks (one of which I think was financed by the Capital Riverfront BID, not by the city, BTW) are significant amenities

No I havent been to Anacostia in a couple of years, and Im glad its got a good restaurant again, and some galleries, and Sheridan is open. But if its had booming RE prices like Trinidad, I havent heard that. Or new development plans announced one after another like Florida Ave.

For some reason Anacostia development, though moving forward, remains slow, despite being the next neighborhood over from one of the hottest nabes in the region. Is perception of crime a problem? Sure. But it was for Trinidad too. The difference, that I can see, is that its an easy walk from Trinidad to H Street, Capital Hill, and NoMa, but not from Anacostia to Navy Yard. So, anything that eases bike/ped access between Anacostia and Navy yard, is important to the future of Anacostia.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Mar 12, 2014 10:55 am • linkreport

There 3 sit down restaurant s, but whatever. And prices were up 23% last year. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2014/02/25/which-d-c-neighborhoods-are-seeing-the-biggest-housing-price-boom/

Certainly navy yard has higher RE values more restaurants/bars etc. Interesting though that Anacostia has many amenities that Navy Yard doesn't - live theater, numerous art galleries, several vintage shops biz incubator etc.

by h st ll on Mar 12, 2014 11:02 am • linkreport

As a resident of the Navy Yard neighborhood, and soon-to-be-resident of Anacostia, I find the assertion that people won't come to the bridge park to be counter-intuitive. The residents of the Capitol Hill neighborhoods (near Southeast) are very mobile- they walk all over the place, the ball park, Yards Park, Barracks Row, Eastern Market, the Capitol, etc. They would have no difficulty finding or getting to the park. And of course, they can easily take a bus to get near enough for a short walk to the bridge. And M street is filling up by the day. They just had a ribbon-cutting fro a new apt complex as a part of the Capitol Quarter development that will take over a part of the parking lot across from the Navy Yard's main entrance on M Street. As one of many people who bought into the Sheridan Sayles condos less than 2 blocks from the Anacostia metro, I can tell you that I see the neighorhoods within a metro stop or bike ride from the Navy Yard neighborhood as "the next neighborhood over." That is especially true for those interested in ownership. There are hundreds of apartment units being built in front of my current apartment building and hundreds being built directly behind it. But there was nothing to buy when I went looking last year- certainly nothing in the sub-400k range. So, Anacostia has become the next neighborhood over for me and other middleclass professionals. In other words, gentrification has already started pushing people east of the river. So, I would expect that you will have plenty of patrons coming from both sides of the river.

by Darin on Mar 12, 2014 11:03 am • linkreport

h st

1. thats a difficult data source to rely on, since there is now adjustment for mix - if one year you get little houses sold, and the next year big ones, it would show price increases. I dont get the sense there is buyers panic in Anacostia comparable to whats found in Trinidad

2. Yes, not many vintage clothing stores in Navy Yard. Navy Yard suffers from a shortage of old buildings with cheap retail rents - as of course does NoMa.

I am not interested in a booster-type comparison of which neighborhood is "better" - all have different points of appeal to different people.

I am trying to address the public policy question of whether its worth building the bridge park discussed in the original post above. I beleive, and I have outlined why I believe it, that historic Anacostia is under performing its potential (as next neighborhood over from Navy Yard) and that one significant constraint holding it back is walk/bike access to WOTR specifically to Navy Yard. If you believe that everything is going along swimmingly in Anacostia, and that such access is not a constraint, by all means argue against the park, or that it should be justified on other grounds.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Mar 12, 2014 11:16 am • linkreport

Hey, no need to be rude buddy.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

I may come across as a booster but its only because there are so many misconceptions at work. And yes, I own a house there, but it's a small part of my net worth.

by h st ll on Mar 12, 2014 11:25 am • linkreport

AWITC - u are pretty much spot on. Navy Yard > H St. I prefer open green spaces. H St. just seems like a dense dirty street, perfect for a once a year bar crawl. Outside of that I haven't found a reason to go over there. Yards Park on the other hand offers everything someone who enjoys being outdoors (like myself) could want. Parks and the water. Lots of open space. Clean. Etc.

With that being said I have had the unique privildge to live in DC the majority of my life. I can ASSURE you people have been talking about change in Anacostia forever.

Not gonna happen with all the low hanging fruit WotR. It may one day, but it will take time. Development is a slow process and the areas surrounding Historic Anacostia are like scenes from a post apocalyptic movie. (of course there are beautiful hood like Penn Branch and Hillcrest, I'm talking about Fairlawn, Congress Heights, etc..

I like the idea of using the old S. Cap bridge. Nothing on the south end of the 11th St bridge but a ton of highways. What's the point of going over there again?

by SW, DC on Mar 12, 2014 11:40 am • linkreport

I did not mean to be rude. Its just that the convo had drifted into a "which nabe is better" discussion - Navy Yard vs H Street, Navy Yard vs Anacostia. There is a place for that discussion, of course, but I had brought up the comparison ONLY because I wanted to address the question of investment in this bridge. Perhaps I could have attempted to redirect the conversation without using the word "booster" but I didnt realize the word was so offensive.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 12, 2014 11:42 am • linkreport

Darin, I think the distance people will walk depends on the activity. For example, walking with a bunch of kids from Anacostia to a playground on the bridge with would be over a quarter-mile from most of the residential buildings. That's a long walk for a short break. That need might be better addressed within the neighborhood, as Richard Layman writes in the post I linked to.

Active recreation and recreation that's specific to the extraordinary site will have a much stronger attraction.

So, how the park is programmed, is step one in making it work. For example, it might be a good idea to put the casual activities like a cafe closer to the neighborhood, drawing people in a little bit, and possibly encouraging them to explore the park further. Just my 2¢.

by Neil Flanagan on Mar 12, 2014 6:43 pm • linkreport

@AWITC HA costs half as much per sq ft compared to the awesome Navy Yard hood. 50%.
I'm guessing you haven't been on the new 1 1st bridge? There are tons of walkers and bikers and its beautiful.
In addition, some of the most important art being produced and shown right now in the city is in HA and adjacent areas. You really should go to the Hive 2.0 the small biz incubator i'm always yapping about. Go eat at Nurish there. Make time to browse at one vintage shop and look at a gallery. Poke your head in one of the other sit down restaurants/bars. The point is there is already vibrant community in HA (and to some extent all of EOTR) that will use such a park at, imo, a high rate. Of course to say nothing of the large amount of users it will get from WOTR. Unparalled in the DC area really.
You obviously are passionate about this stuff. And you normally have good analysis. But go visit :) No it won't blow you away but it's different than what you think.

by h st ll on Mar 14, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport

I strongly believe this park would be a dead park. Generally, a bridge is not exactly an ideal "central" location for an urban park. It would possible benefit pedestrian crossing on a short bridge connecting two active urban land use close to the shore on each side. This is no the case here, however. With a dead end into a highway on the Anacostia side it will never be a good pedestrian path. Even if they provided parking like they need to in suburban parks, I couldn't see anyone driving just to hang out on a bridge.

by Chris Allen, PE on Mar 14, 2014 9:55 pm • linkreport

If it's built than it may take decades before it gets the kind of use that the Key Bridge gets. If there was some redevelopment along the north side of M. Street, across from the Navy Yard, and if Anacostia takes off, I see this as being quite comparable to the potential to be the Key bridge. It could eventually be a well-used link that connects gentrification in Anacostia and Hill East and connects those two areas. This is long range thinking, but it seems plausible enough to me.

by Solution Giver on Mar 17, 2014 4:13 pm • linkreport

This article should contain some pictures of the current 11th street bridge - showing how the bridge piers are incorporated nicely into the new bridge. Before posting, please visit this bridge. The misinformation in these posts is astounding.

I have been biking and/or walking over the 11th street bridge twice each weekday for over one and a half years. Many of my co-workers walk, bike, take the bus, or drive this bridge every day as well. I have lived in DC for 30 of my 50 years and over half of that without a car. The newly rebuilt 11th street bridge is currently one of the most bikeable and walkable bridges in the city. It is on par with or better than Key Bridge. It is directly connected to park land on both ends. I also bike this bridge after dark during the winter and it is very well lit with good sight lines. There are two bump outs built over the bridge piers with benches to sit on if you want to enjoy the view or rest on your walk over.

Go experience the new bridge which only a few months ago had its ribbon cutting. Then walk down on the Anacostia side either down into Anacostia park or up Good Hope Road or MLK for a bite at Nourish or for a yoga class or to view the current exhibit of quilts. Or on the Navy Yard side, drop down to the waterfront and walk either up stream along the trail (as soon as it is open after the construction of the freeway is completed)or along the Navy Yard Riverwalk.

Then put some money into removing the parking lots on the North side of RFK stadium and making playing fields for youth and adults (softball, ultimate, soccer, football - the competition for playing fields is fierce - and these could be added with more greenspace along the river and more trees - see the website www.capitolriverside.org). And plant more trees and better landscaping in Anacostia park would go a long way. These parks could benefit enormously from some private dollars and it is guaranteed that the parks would be well used. Whether or not a bridge park would ever be used is debatable.

by Daily 11th St bridge user on Mar 18, 2014 10:22 pm • linkreport

Will bullet proof kevlar vests be provided at the park?

by Frank on Mar 19, 2014 10:50 pm • linkreport

Bridges are a basic component of all transportation networks that can range from a simple structure crossing the creek in our neighborhood to the signature structure used for the background in media advertisements. True success of a bridge depends upon the Feasibility and Planning Studies, Conceptual Design, Cost Estimates, Structure Type Selection, Environmental Studies and this is just the beginning there are a lot of other aspects which has to be taken care off.

by Julia Kate on Apr 18, 2014 8:09 am • linkreport

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