Reuse of Old Bridges Elevates Urban Living

Melanie D.G. Kaplan examines a growing trend in adaptive reuse—the transformation of old and underutilized bridges into elevated parks, walkways, and engines of economic development.

"According to the Federal Highway Administration, 66,749 bridges in the United States were classified as structurally deficient last year, representing more than 10 percent of our country’s total highway bridges. As these bridges fall out of service, states are faced with decisions. Some bridges are disassembled and relocated, others are demolished and, increasingly, some are used for other purposes," writes Kaplan.

One example is a plan to reuse the structural piers that used to hold up the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River to support Washington D.C.'s first elevated park. "In essence, a new bridge will be built alongside the new car bridge; there will be some sort of span, but it will be used for recreation, not to support vehicles," explains Kaplan, a nearby resident.

"[Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park] said the goal is that the park will re-engage the community with the Anacostia River, reconnect the Capitol Hill and Anacostia neighborhoods separated by the river, serve as an anchor for economic development and provide a safe place to exercise and play."

Full Story: Want an old bridge? Many cities say yes.

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