Washington's walkable bridges

A tour of the D.C. area's scenic walkable bridges offers stunning views - and a new perspective on the city.

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By Ann Cameron Siegal
Friday, September 10, 2010

They take us over rivers and ravines. They get us from here to there. They arch and they lift, hum and whine. And for the most part we don't notice anything about them except how long the traffic backup is to get onto them.

The cure for this lamentable Bridge Oversight Syndrome is right under your nose -- your feet! Yes, doing a bridge walk will provide exercise and, just as important, perspective: As a pedestrian you'll be seeing sights hard to savor from a car window.

You'll have a new vantage from which to enjoy the changing seasons and ponder dramatic buildings and sculpture -- the waterfront houses in Alexandria's Old Town, the Kennedy Center as it stands sentinel on the edge of the Potomac, the statues on Memorial Bridge up close and personal. Contemplate activities possible on the waterways below -- fishing, a river cruise or, dare we suggest it, kayaking! It's all there, just beyond the railings.

Be forewarned, though: An urban bridge trek is a treat for the eyes, not the ears. These are busy, functional pieces of architecture essential to holding our area together, so they harbor all the traffic sounds -- and vibrations -- inherent in that big job.

But don't let that stop you. Slip on good walking shoes, pack water and binoculars, and exercise your more primitive mode of transportation.

POTOMAC RIVER CROSSINGS

Arlington Memorial Bridge

Type: Arch bridge with central bascule, or drawbridge (not used)

Length: Less than half a mile (2,128 feet)

Connecting: Connects Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial

Access: Sidewalks connect at both ends; the Mount Vernon Trail leads to it.

Parking: Paid parking at Arlington National Cemetery Visitor Center. On the D.C. side, there's limited free parking along Ohio Drive SW and free parking in East Potomac Park.


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