- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Heads of state who fly into Andrews Air Force Base often get their first glimpse of Washington along ragged South Capitol Street a first impression, area leaders say, that needs to be improved.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was joined by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting Congressional representative, at a press conference yesterday to outline their hopes for a joint federal-local effort to rejuvenate South Capitol Street.
Mr. Williams and Mr. Hoyer want to transform the street currently lined with liquor stores and car washes into a straight-line urban boulevard that runs from the Anacostia River to the Capitol, lined with trees to resemble red-carpet thoroughfares like the Champs Elyses in Paris or North Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
"When the pope arrived in 1997, he came across this bridge. When the president of Peru came this past October, this is what they saw," said Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. Mr. Hoyer pointed out the view of concrete plants, towing lots and sewage plants from the Frederick Douglass Bridge.
Local leaders want the beautification efforts to include the nearby Anacostia River waterfront.
Getting the federal government to pay for the South Capitol Street Gateway and Improvement Study was the first step, Mr. Hoyer said. The U.S. Department of Transportation has set aside $500,000 to conduct the study.
Mr. Williams' dream of a new Anacostia Waterfront is decades in the making. He envisions a path along the banks connecting to a bridge crossing the water, riverfront neighborhoods, piers, museums, commercial properties along with mass transportation access all to be included in the study.
The plan begins with changing the design and scope of the Frederick Douglass Bridge.
The old turnstile bridge has served the District well since it was opened in 1949, but city officials said it has outlived its usefulness.
"Our goal is to lower the bridge and make it a straight line along the view of the Capitol, said Uwe S. Brandes, project manager for the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative.
A new bridge is probably 10 years away, Mr. Brandes said, but city leaders said the time is now to begin planning and lobbying for funding.
D.C. Department of Transportation officials are not sure if they want another turnstile or a drawbridge. The new bridge will still have to allow boats to pass through from the Navy Yard.
The study will be conducted by the city's transportation department, along with a mix of consultants and regional planners.
The city has enlisted the aid of an expert engineer who worked on a waterfront project in Cincinnati. Mr. Williams announced the appointment of John Deatrick as the deputy director of transportation for the Anacostia Initiative.
Mr. Deatrick was hired at a salary of $125,000 a year.
The mayor said Mr. Deatrick was responsible for Cincinnati's award-winning, $330 million Fort Washington Way Project.
The plan there consisted of changing a twisting inner-city thoroughfare into eight lanes of straight, free-flowing traffic while reclaiming 14 acres of waterfront on the Ohio River.
Mr. Hoyer said his involvement in the Anacostia Waterfront project would one of the most important in his 21 years in Congress.
"If I live to see this project fully realized, it will be one of the two or three things I have done that I will look back on and think that it made the greatest difference for improving the quality of life for the people here," Mr. Hoyer said.


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