Breaking Down Barriers
and Gaining Access
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Unprecedented public investment in transportation infrastructure for a 21st century city has stitched together Anacostia waterfront communities, restored public access to the waterfront, created a sustainable and connected waterfront transportation network, and enhanced mobility options for adjacent neighborhoods.
Equitable Public Access to Waterfront
In the early 2000s, there were few convenient routes to the Anacostia waterfront, limited ability to travel along the river, and scarce amenities along its banks. As envisioned, people are now able to get to the waterfront using public transportation, beautiful new street connections, distinctive bridges, and the new and restored Anacostia River parks. Linking all activities along the waterfront, the nearly 20 miles of continuous Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has physically reconnected DC’s diverse waterfront neighborhoods on both sides of the river and transformed public access along the waterfront. Improved transportation linkages have expanded access to new and restored waterfront park amenities and provided connections between waterfront neighborhoods and the region. Improvements like the Parkside Pedestrian Bridge connect communities to the waterfront and each other, once isolated by highway infrastructure.
Expanded Public Transportation Options
The District has expanded public transportation options to waterfront communities with the addition of DC Circulator routes, streetcar, and bikeshare, as well as on streets rebuilt for better walking and biking. Development along the waterfront, especially on underutilized public land, large sites, and former industrial properties, has taken advantage of the proximity to Metro’s Green, Blue, Orange and Silver lines, creating nodes of activity at the stations. New developments like The Wharf also have recognized the opportunity to supplement public transit with privately-funded options like shuttle service to and from Metro stations and new water taxi service.
Connections that Serve Immediate Communities
The District has been working to move regional traffic off local roads in order to improve air quality and better serve waterfront neighborhoods, prioritizing more local access and more livable neighborhoods. The goal for the highways and freeways that frame the Anacostia River is to be less of a physical and visual barrier to the waterfront and adjacent neighborhoods. Initial planning and design work for the Southeast Boulevard reflects this effort and reimagines a highway as a local boulevard. The District is also replacing unattractive, aging, highway-like bridges designed for regional traffic that discourage walking and biking. The 11th Street Bridge project replaced two bridges built in the 1960s with three new bridges that separate local and freeway traffic, with wide sidewalks, vastly reducing the amount of regional traffic on the streets of Historic Anacostia.

Progressive Legislative Framework for Sustainability
Since 2003, a coalition of tireless civic and non-profit advocacy groups in cooperation with District government agencies and policymakers advanced legislative measures to significantly improve the Anacostia River’s environment. New legislation and agreements with adjoining jurisdictions that share the Anacostia Watershed have helped to reduce the number of plastic bags and polystyrene (foam) containers in the river, create sustainable funding for river cleanup and environmental education, provide guidance for wetlands creation, restoration, and conservation, and launch innovative funding mechanisms for green infrastructure projects that reduce stormwater runoff into Anacostia waterways. The adoption of exemplary site and building standards for green design and stormwater management have also helped stem the amount of organic and chemical pollution going into the river. Much of this work has been guided by the District’s bold sustainability vision encapsulated in the Sustainable DC Plan. More recently, the District developed the Climate Ready DC Plan to strengthen resilience to increased flooding and rising tides and other climate change impacts on the District.
Urban Boulevards and Sustainable Streetscapes
Many streets and boulevards that lead to the Anacostia River are being designed for all modes of transportation and to be neighborhood-serving. From M Street SW/SE to Kenilworth Avenue, the District has been studying how to make critical corridors more accessible, pedestrian-friendly, and attractive. For example, South Capitol Street was a primary corridor in Major Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 Plan of the City of Washington and was envisioned as one of the symbolic gateways to the city, but has lost the characteristics of this historic function. The South Capitol Street Corridor project is replacing the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge to create an iconic gateway while transforming the urban freeway into a 6-lane scenic boulevard with an enhanced streetscape. Restoring the L’Enfant street grid is being further accomplished through the reestablishment of 4th Street SW between M and “I” Streets at the Waterfront Metro. 4th Street SW is now a neighborhood-serving street supporting retail, office, and housing, and operates as a social space and community focal point.
Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Project will unify the east and west sides of the Anacostia River through enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access and deliver civic architecture worthy of its eponymous symbol of freedom and unity. The new Frederick Douglas Memorial Bridge is part of the South Capitol Street Corridor Project, which will be completed in two phases and is the largest capital project the District has undertaken. For the $441 million first phase of the project, the District received special federal approval to require 51 percent of all new project-related jobs to be performed by District residents. Additionally, at least 13 percent of the total design contract and 22 percent of the construction contract must be subcontracted to certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, far outpacing goals on previous capital projects. To meet these targets, the project is offering workforce development, contracting, and employment opportunities, including on-the-job training opportunities for design staff, trades, and contractor staff.
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail serves as a backbone of the Anacostia waterfront, connecting residents, visitors, and communities to the river, one another, and numerous commercial, cultural, and recreational destinations. The Riverwalk Trail is a multipurpose path along the east and west banks of the Anacostia River, where 19.5 of the planned 28 miles are open and actively used. Beyond recreation, the trail offers a transportation alternative for commuters between the District and Prince George’s County in Maryland. The trail provides comfortable and scenic travel for pedestrians and bicyclists along the river to the Fish Market, Nationals Park, Historic Anacostia, RFK Stadium, the National Arboretum, and numerous DC communities between the Tidal Basin and Maryland border. The trail itself has become a tourist attraction, while linking outdoor destinations along the waterfront like Yards Park, Diamond Teague Park, Anacostia Park, and the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The picturesque four-mile Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens segment of the trail, completed in 2016, extends from Benning Road NE to the Bladensburg Trail in Maryland, filling in a missing link in a regional 40+ trail mile system within the watershed.
Resurgence of the Anacostia Waterfront