Frederick Douglass Bridge to Open Wednesday Night

By Delphine Schrank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; 3:50 PM

Eight days ahead of schedule, the renovated Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge is slated to reopen Wednesday night in time for the Thursday morning rush hour, relieving about 77,000 commuters from two months' worth of headaches and detours.

The $27 million project was intended to help extend the life of the bridge for 20 years until a new one is built, said Emeka Moneme, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation.

About 400 feet of the bridge was eliminated on the northern side of the crossing, and 200 feet was lowered about 10 feet to touch down at Potomac Avenue. Other repairs included replacing the deck, resurfacing and adding brand new street lights and guard rails.

"What the lowering did is create a much gentler, more appealing gateway. It really creates a more urban boulevard experience instead of driving on a freeway that just flies over a neighborhood of the city," said DDOT spokesman Erik Linden.

For commuters, who saw their trips extended an average of 30 minutes, the reopening is a charm.

"That would make a big difference, a real big difference," said Terron Whitehead, a limousine driver from District Heights.

Since the bridge was closed for repairs on July 6, Whitehead said he has added 20 minutes both ways onto his daily commute to his office, which is just over the bridge in the District. He even leaves later from work in the evening to spare himself rush hour on his way home. "I never used to work late, said Whitehead. "I used to leave right after work."

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