11th Street Bridge Park plan chosen

Rendering of 11th Street Bridge Park. (Graphic: OMA and OLIN)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – The Anacostia River currently divides part of D.C., but plans for a new walkway might transform that, making some people near the old 11th Street Bridge hopeful.

"This is an area where there is a lot of excitement," said Mario Newton.

The 11th Street Bridge Park would be the city's first elevated park.

“We want them to see a new icon for D.C., a new civic space," said OMA partner Jason Long.

After a nationwide competition by D.C. and the non-profit Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC, OMA and OLIN's design was chosen.

"This proposal by OMA and OLIN is so incredibly strong, thoughtful and brilliant," said Scott Kratz, 11th Street Bridge Park director.

There are waterfalls, hammocks, gardens, a cafe and educational space. The design reuses the environment and is meant to draw the communities of Capitol Hill and Anacostia together.

"I am excited about seeing the bridge finally realized and I am urging all of my neighbors to come and enjoy it," said Ruth Caplan, a resident of Northwest Washington.

The current bridge gets lots of traffic and there are many opinions.

"It's going to be beautiful for the city, and the children, and all folk who come here to Washington D.C," said Janoski Mcneill Sr., of Northwest Washington.

"Instead of spending the taxpayer money on bridge and some water fountains, should add some textbooks and some of the schools that are being shut down and torn down," said Darrius Hardy, of Southeast Washington.

"I think it is a good thing, they are just trying to make D.C. look different," said Antoin Reddix, of Southeast Washington.

The bridge is expected to draw investment, but a resident at the day's design announcement questioned if it would lead to development that might displace some who live in Anacostia.

"Moving forward, we need to be very thoughtful to ensure that this is truly a rising tide that lifts all boats," said Kratz.

Construction will cost at least $25 million. D.C. has committed to cover half of the cost. A capital campaign will foot the rest of the bill. The goal is to also raise at least $10 million for an endowment to fund the bridge's operation.

The park's director says the bridge park won't open until at least the summer of 2018.

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