D.C.'s Planning Its Own High Line On a Freeway Bridge

The runway success of the High Line has sparked trendy rail-to-trail conversions across the country. Now D.C. is offering its own twist: A park on a span of decommissioned freeway that crosses the Anacostia River. Maybe they'll call it the "Highway Line."

The 11th Street Bridge was built after World War II and became part of the 695 Freeway, until expansion plans required three additional spans to be constructed alongside the bridge. With the bridge's piers still standing, a group envisioned that the former roadway could be transformed into a linear park.


In addition to open space, the park will also offer better transportation connections, because walkers and bikers will no longer be required to compete with drivers on a busy roadway. And a park would also do something that a freeway could not: the reclaimed open space will connect the thriving Navy Yard on one side of the bridge with Anacostia, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

Because it's much wider than the High Line's railway trestle—the total area is about three football fields—and will connect to existing green spaces on either side of the span, the possibilities are more open for how to design and program the park.

A competition will be launched later this spring to envision the space's future, and fundraising has already begun to gather the estimated $25 million, plus endowment, for construction.


One concept for the park showing the planted walkway and better connections to the river, by Ed Estes

With our bridges showing their age and freeways being removed as part of community improvements throughout the country, maybe we'll see a lot more of these types of linear parks. A similar proposal is currently making the rounds here in Los Angeles for a bridge that is being replaced due to structural issues, but where the old span could easily support bike and pedestrian traffic. The city has not backed the project just yet, but maybe D.C.'s success will spur them along. [Next City]


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