Jackson said he is concerned that the gentrification of
east side neighborhoods near the bridge may force some
current residents out.
“There will be both challenges and benefits,” he said.
“We know that. All change isn't bad, though. The key is
how you manage it and having a say in what happens.”
Kratz said the project got its start when former D.C. planning director Harriet Tregoning — a champion of urban
walkabilty — “saw a unique opportunity when the old
11th Street vehicular bridge had aged out. She wondered
if instead of getting rid of the old infrastructure, could
we save some of it and repurpose it for this public space.”
Kratz, a former vice president of education at the National
Building Museum who lives a few blocks from the western terminus of the bridge, volunteered to help and spent
countless hours meeting “any group that would have me.
“Basically, I was asking permission. This was especially
important on the east side, because planning often
A key part of the project is the Equitable Development Plan aimed at
making sure the new park benefits the lower-income side of the river.
happens ‘to’ lower-income communities rather than
including them in the process.”
He said the Equitable Development Plan started with
“building trust, which is a fragile thing. We wanted to
make it responsive to the tens of thousands of neighbors
who would be affected by the park because we know
these big projects can have unintended consequences.
Typically we bemoan the effects of gentrification after
it’s too late to do anything about it.”
The park — which will be 1,200 feet long, 180 feet
wide at the west side expanding to 187-feet wide on the
eastern end — will attract an estimated 800,000 to 1.2
million visitors a year when it is opened.
“We turned to the community early on and asked for
ideas to make sure this civic space would boost the local
residents,” Kratz said. “At the end of that 18-month
process, we posted the recommendations online and
then announced 19 final proposals in three categories
A community day at THEARC, run by Building Bridges Across the
River, included activities for children and families and cleanup of its
organic garden. Building Bridges Across the River, whose mission is to
improve the quality of life for children and adults who reside east of
the Anacostia River, is developing the 11th Street Bridge Park. The Park
is located in Ward 8 and will be Washington, D.C.’s first elevated public
park located on the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge spanning the
Anacostia River.; Photos courtesy of THEARC