Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday revealed the design for a $441 million replacement bridge spanning the Anacostia River and connecting the District with areas to the southeast, according to The Washington Post.
The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will replace the current 68-year-old, functionally obsolete span. AECOM is the lead designer of the three-arch bridge and a joint venture between Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction will serve as general contractor, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The bridge, which is scheduled to open in late 2021, is the largest construction project in DC history. City officials said it will boost economic development on both sides of the river.
Archer Western was also recently selected by the Florida Department of Transportation as part of a joint venture to design and build a new bridge in downtown Miami. However, the team that came in second place for the $800 million project has filed an official protest over the bid process amid accusations that the state ignored the input of a local panel assembled to give guidance on the bridge's design. They also alleged that FDOT manipulated the scoring process in favor of the eventual winning bid.
The need for bridge repair and replacement has become a significant part of the country's infrastructure story. Earlier this year, an American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) study found that about 9% of U.S. bridges — 55,710 — were structurally deficient in 2016. The figure was down slightly from 58,495 bridges in 2015. It would take more than $700 billion to bring all deficient bridges up to an acceptable standard, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Yet experts say that in the 10 years since the deadly collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, there hasn't been enough of a push to make the necessary bridge upgrades. Bridge construction has increased during that time — up 39% to $32.3 billion — but at the current rate of state and federal outlays, it would take 30 years to complete all the necessary work. The federal government finances about half of the country's highway and bridge work, and so ARTBA has called upon lawmakers to increase funding.