DDOT Reveals Plans For Monroe Street Bridge Rehabilitation

Monroe Street Bridge Rendering Courtesy of DDOT
Monroe Street Bridge Rendering Courtesy of DDOT

Earlier this month we wrote about a meeting DDOT was holding about the future of the Monroe Street Bridge. We attended the meeting and learned that the bulk of the project will be repairs to the substructure which has cracks and exposed re-bar in the columns, and the replacement of the superstructure which will extend the life of the bridge for another 75 years. A few days after the meeting DDOT launched this website for the project which includes an option to submit feedback.

The project will be conducted in two Phases, Phase One will be construction and repairs to the north side and Phase Two will cover the south side. It is hard to look at the rendering of the new bridge and not notice that it will be vastly different than the current colorful (if worn and rusty) one. When asked about the new fencing the DDOT representatives described it as “state of the art”, “very modern and…very good looking”. They added that the fence will appear invisible and will stay clean looking. Notably, the fence must adhere to WMATA requirements about height and depth. When questioned by the Brookland Bridge about the lack of neighborhood character, DDOT suggested that there may be a chance to add a sculpture or some other artistic element, but that there are no plans to alter the current design to do so. This prompted us to ask if the purpose of the meeting was to inform the community or to gather feedback.  The representatives said it was just to convey the decisions that have been already been made. They added that instead of gathering community feedback they relied on the Office of Planning to articulate the communities needs. 

The DDOT representatives expressed that they looked at several options but given constraints like schedule and budget, this is most practical design. Further, this project is on a “fast track” because of the degraded condition of the bridge. As a result, several of the meeting attendees requested copies of the studies and analysis done to arrive at this design.  DDOT promised to post that information on the project website, but we have not seen it posted yet.

Another topic of lively discussion was why the project is not going to unify the Met Branch Trail since this would seem like the opportune time to  do so. Currently the trail ends at the Franklin Street bridge, and riders must then bike down 8th Street NE and then the Trail picks back up at Monroe Street NE. The DDOT representatives explained that unifying the trail would require a tunnel under the bridge, and that there is not enough space to do feasibly and that the cost would be too high. However, there will be dedicated bike lines on the bridge and a new traffic signal at the intersection of 8th and Monroe that should help bikers navigate their way across Monroe Street NE.

In addition to the bridge re-build, the project includes sidewalk improvements along 8th Street between Monroe and Lawrence NE, and on Monroe between 8th and 9th Streets, NE.  Also, overhead lines will be placed under ground from 7th – 9th Streets on Monroe Street NE.  At least this will improve the aesthetic of that limited area.

Quite frankly, we walked away disappointed with the design, it just feels soulless. For readers unaware, the bridge was painted in 2001 by area residents, as a memorial to  area youth who have passed away.

We will let you know when we learn of anything significant.

10 thoughts on “DDOT Reveals Plans For Monroe Street Bridge Rehabilitation”

  1. This looks like a very quick image, given to an intern to throw together. The lines don’t match up and hy take the side area (which kinda helps cyclists) and put empty space in the middle instead? There is nothing here that shows this was a distinct thinking-process from DDOT to address the needs of Brookland. And certainly nothing that even remotely acknowledges that the community obviously adopted this as part of our fabric (painting, yarn bombing). If this is because of a need to rush the fix, then they should maybe underscore just how bad and dangerous the bridge is. If it’s so broken they have to rush something soulless just to keep us safe, then that’s pretty bad and they don’t seem to be saying that. It’s a rush job, yes… but why?

  2. To start with positives, at least the power lines will be under-grounded and safety repairs will be made, but other than that its a complete missed opportunity. I’ve seen how this “clear” barrier ages and the bottom line is it quickly becomes non-transparent. The 9th St. bridge over the tracks in Brentwood used “clear barriers” that are now completely degraded and look awful.

    I was really hoping for something with more character and something to reflect the arts influence in the community. Even a brick veneer would be an improvement over this “modern” soulless design that is completely out of context.

    I doubt this would ever be allowed to happen in Ward 3!

  3. Leave it to Brooklandites to complain about neighborhood character over improved safety and efficiency. This is the Bowser admin, be satisfied they’re taking any action at all.

  4. This design lacks creativity. I want to see a beautiful bridge… something with a little character. The bridge connects the “Little Rome” neighborhood to the Arts Walk, Dance Place, Catholic University, Trinity, and so many fun, new shops, studios, and restaurants. Let some of this greatness reflect in the design of the bridge. Surely, local artists and neighbors’ input could improve the original design.

  5. Soulless is right! The bridge in South Dakota going to Costco/rt 50 has more character! This is a neighborhood, not one industrial park connecting another. Surely, they can handle both the safety and asthetic piece at once, no?

  6. It looks like the letters B-R-O-O-K-L-A-N-D-B-R-I-D-G-E would fit in between the fence posts on both sides….just sayin’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *