D.C.

11th Street Bridge playground plan in the works

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Big plans are in place that could transform an old freeway into a 21st century playground. Developers are eyeing what's left of the 11th Street Bridge in Southeast D.C.

When 11th Street Bridge Park Director Scott Kratz looks out at the Anacostia River where the old bridge once stood, he sees opportunity. 

"What we're proposing to do is to build a new deck that's on top of those three existing piers behind me," Kratz explained.

A new deck no longer clogged with vehicles but filled with families.

"This can be a place where residents in Capitol Hill, where I live, or residents in historic Anacostia can come together and enjoy a gospel concert or take their kids to a 21st century playground or go to a harvest festival on a fruit orchard."

He's spent 18 months asking hundreds of residents what they want.

Ward 8 resident Nikki Peele said, "It's an exciting thing for myself, as well as my neighbors."

Peele also works for a non-profit called ARCH Development Corporation, which pushes for community revitalization.

"I think something like the bridge project can really [get] other people who are not familiar with our neighborhoods to see that we have places here to shop, we have galleries here...," Peele added.

Valencia Williams is raising two children in Anacostia and loves the idea of a bridge park.

"As long as it's somewhere for the kids to go and have fun, you know...that's a plus, because my son he needs something to do for after school instead of him just going straight home," Williams said.

About $35 million in private funds are needed to make the project happen. Twenty-five million dollars would go to construction; the other $10 million would go towards ongoing programs.

The project's director says he's getting a lot of support from the mayor, city administrator and National Park Service. 

A nationwide design competition will soon be launched. If all goes as planned, construction could start in 2014. The park would open two years later.

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