Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge opens to motorists at the end of the week


WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is set to open to motorists beginning on the evening of Friday, September 10. By Saturday, September 11, all six lanes will be open.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser held a ribbon-cutting for the new District symbol along with Acting Director for the District Department of Transportation, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and District councilmembers.

“The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is a fitting tribute to an iconic Washingtonian, a forefather of Black excellence who we continue to emulate and who helped build Washington, DC into the city we are today. This project was never just about getting people from Point A to Point B, it was about building a more connected DC – connecting Ward 8 and Ward 6, connecting residents to jobs and prosperity, and connecting our entire community to the future of multi-modal transportation,” said Mayor Bowser. “Today, we celebrate all the federal, regional, and local partners who helped get us here, including our champions in Congress, Congresswoman Norton and Majority Leader Hoyer, the Douglass family, and the teams at the District Department of Transportation and South Capitol Bridge Builders.”

The Duke Ellington Marching Band played a processional at the ribbon-cutting, and local soloist Bonnie Burnett performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Additionally, the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., was at the ribbon-cutting.

“Washington, DC has been a very special place for the Douglass family since Frederick Douglass moved his family here nearly 150 years ago. We are thrilled that this magnificent bridge will serve to educate the public about his legacy, connect DC to the neighborhoods where he worked and lived, and inspire future generations to agitate for change. My mother, Nettie Washington Douglass, represented the family when the original South Capitol Street Bridge was renamed for our great ancestor in 1965, and I’m honored to carry on that tradition and represent her and the entire Douglass family at the dedication of the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge,” he said.

The project broke ground in 2018, on the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth. The new symbol and connector will replace the more than 70-year-old South Capitol Street Bridge.

The project was a $440 million investment, with funds coming from federal grants and more than $250 million in local taxpayer dollars. Additionally, the project provided jobs for more than 200 D.C. residents made up of at least 45 minority and women-owned businesses that represented $91 million in contracting opportunities.

“The ribbon cutting for the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge marks a historic occasion for the District, particularly for Wards 7 and 8, which were previously cut off from much of D.C.,” said Congresswoman Norton. “That is why I, in my role as a senior member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, spent more than a decade piecing together funds in each appropriations bill until we got the 60% federal funding for it.”

“I am glad to join in celebrating the opening of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and thank Mayor Bowser for her leadership on behalf of the thousands of workers and families who will benefit from this critical infrastructure priority,” said Majority Leader Hoyer. “I’ve been proud to work alongside the Mayor and my colleagues in Congress to secure more than $200 million in federal funding for this project. This bridge represents how important it is to invest in infrastructure that not only connects communities but also creates new opportunities for local economic growth and good-paying jobs. Today is a wonderful day for our families and workers in the National Capital Region who will use and enjoy this multi-functional bridge for generations to come.”

The bridge design includes three above-deck arches that capture the District’s arch history, two piers that will appear to float in the river, and four pedestrian overlooks. The bridge is part of the South Capitol Street Corridor Project. 

“This dramatic bridge is a shining example of Mayor Bowser’s commitment to sustainable, resilient transportation options that serve not just the District, but the entire region,” said DDOT Director Everett Lott. “It will significantly improve the mobility of the more than 70,000 vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians who cross the bridge daily. Thanks to the DDOT and South Capitol Bridge Builders teams for getting this project to the finish line—a few weeks early!”

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