The District Department of Transportation is making plans to replace the 63-year-old Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Although the bridge is still structurally sound now, it's years are numbered, officials say.
The bridge, also known as the South Capitol Street Bridge, carries about 70,000 vehicles a day on South Capitol Street over the Anacostia River, near Nationals Park.
"We need to begin taking some traffic off the bridge or face some major repairs or restrictions to keep it safe," says Nick Nicholson, DDOT's chief engineer.
The drawbridge has moved only twice in the last seven years to let a ship through. Nicholson says it still works, but has gaping issues.
"This has deteriorated from corrosion to a point that it's structurally totally unstable," Nicholson says. "The good news is this being this bracing is only really needed when the bridge is moving."
The city would tear the bridge down after completing a new bridge right next to it that would cost $660 million or $520 million if the feds would allow D.C. to drop the drawbridge. The estimated completion date if started soon would be 2017 or 2018.
But at the pace the bridge is deteriorating, it needs to start soon. Already bigger trucks are prohibited from using the center lane.