CFA 21/JUL/22-2


Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of Transportation
National Park Service
Long Bridge Project
New railroad and pedestrian bridges between Virginia and the District of Columbia
Review Type
Previous Review
Submitted Documents


Dear Ms. Hall:

In its public meeting of 21 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission
of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the proposed expansion of the Long Bridge corridor, a complex of bridges and embankments extending between Virginia and the District of Columbia. Expressing appreciation for the thorough presentation, the Commission approved the concept design with the following comments.

Building upon their review of this project at an information presentation given in May 2022, the Commission members recognized the strength and power inherent
in this important piece of infrastructure—a series of heavy steel spans supported by massive granite-clad piers and walls—and they strongly encouraged the intent of the proposal to convey this tectonic expression. They commended the thoughtful treatment of the railroad bridge’s battered granite piers in the Potomac River, which accentuates their strength and function as well as the beauty of the stone, and they emphasized the importance of using a thick stone cladding instead of a thin veneer. However, they found that extending the piers upward into the spans in some locations as proposed compromises the clarity of the design; in particular, they recommended eliminating the thin vertical pier extensions on the I-395 bridge spans—which appear like applied decoration and are visually too weak to be performing any structural function. For the piers on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, they also found the upper extensions to be insubstantial and thin, particularly in comparison to the more massive stone piers of the parkway’s existing railroad bridges; if some form of these must remain, they recommended restudying these to be more believably expressive of a structural function. In their endorsement of the consistent use of stone-clad supports for the bridge’s spans, they recommended using granite instead of exposed concrete for the supports at the middle of the Ohio Drive bridge, similar to the other bridges along this roadway.

For the landscape, they expressed appreciation for the intent to retain the character of the historic landscape design of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. However, for East Potomac Park, they commented that the proposed linear arrangement of smaller trees along the embankments would be inconsistent with the character of this corridor, which features substantial massings of canopy trees that allow intermittent views of the massive stone abutment walls as well as views outward into the monumental landscape from the trains.

The Commission looks forward to further review of this important project of civic infrastructure. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the development of the design.

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Kym A. Hall, Area Director
Region 1 – National Capital Area
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW Washington, DC 20242

cc: Daniel Tarantino, Hardesty & Hanover
Mark Colgan, VHB
Shirlene Cleveland, Virginia Passenger Rail Authority
Everett Lott, D.C. Department of Transportation