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Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, January 18th, 2016


Report Card for D.C.'s Infrastructure

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Bridges

The District of Columbia has 265 bridge structures; 226 of the bridges are owned by the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the remaining 39 are owned by the National Park Service (NPS). The average age of a bridge in D.C. is 58 years, and 80% of the bridges will need to be replaced or rehabilitated in the next 10 years. However, the District made significant strides to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges from 8% to 3% in just three years. Despite this progress, more than 220,000 trips are taken over a structurally deficient bridge every day and a quarter of bridges have at least one major component in fair condition. Three of the eight structurally deficient bridges, including heavily travelled Arlington Memorial Bridge, are owned by NPS, which lacks a funding mechanism for large rehabilitations.

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Drinking Water

D.C.’s drinking water comes from the Potomac River, is treated by the Washington Aqueduct, and is then delivered by DC Water. The system supplies approximately 95.8 million gallons per day of water, equivalent to 145 Olympic swimming pools. The system entails 1,350 miles of pipes, equivalent to driving from D.C. to Chicago and back. The pipes’ median age is 79 years, beyond the design lifespan of 50 years and 9% of pipes were installed during the period between the Civil War and the 1890s. Recently, DC Water started replacing 1% of pipes a year. While three times the previous year’s replacement rate, it is still a 100-year replacement cycle. There are typically 400 to 550 water main breaks a year. The system also includes four pumping stations, five reservoirs, three elevated water storage tanks, and 9,300 fire hydrants.

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Energy

Like many cities, D.C. draws its energy from a variety of sources and moves it across the city using a variety of methods – from wires to substations to pipes. D.C.’s energy system is largely the distribution end of electricity generated and natural gas provided from outside its boundaries. The energy system includes 2,230 miles of primary cable and a natural gas network consisting of 2,360 miles of pipeline. Recent growth in the distributed generation capacity within the District, most notably as solar photovoltaic systems, contributes to electricity production. Efforts are underway to make significant improvements in both natural gas and electric systems by 2018, as $3 billion is planned for electricity infrastructure upgrades, and $650 million has been allocated to replace the 50-year old pipelines. The focus is on resiliency, safety, and reliability of the energy system.

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Levees

According to the National Levee Database (NLD), the District of Columbia has two levee systems: the District of Columbia – Potomac Park (DCPP) Flood Risk Management System (FRMS) and the Anacostia (DCAN) FRMS. The DCPP FRMS is located on the left bank of the Potomac River and runs adjacent to the National Mall; providing risk reduction to the heart of the city’s downtown area, also known as the capital crescent. The DCAN FRMS is located on the left bank of the Anacostia River and provides flood risk reduction to the Joint Base Anacostia Bolling facility and the adjacent vicinity. Together, the two systems are 3.26 miles in length and operated/maintained by either the National Park Service (DCPP) or the through the combined effort of the National Park Service and the Department of the Navy (DCAN).

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Parks and Recreation Centers

The District of Columbia Department of General Services (DGS) maintains 73 recreation facilities, 379 parks, and 6 aquatic centers that are operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation. D.C. has two initiatives to improve public, locally owned parks, which are Recreation Center Projects and PlayDC Playgrounds Improvement. National Park Service owns and operates about 6,776 acres of land, which is about 17% of D.C.’s land area. This includes the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, Fort Dupont Park, Anacostia Park, monuments and memorials, street medians, traffic circles, and small pocket parks. There are an additional 1,500 acres of open space operated by other Federal agencies, which includes the National Zoo, National Arboretum, and cemeteries. As D.C. looks to implementation of green infrastructures, park land offers an opportunity to add more tree cover, natural features, and greener landscaping. PlayDC laid out a goal to increase natural features on DPR properties by 40%.

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Rail Infrastructure

The District of Columbia’s rail infrastructure hosts 75 miles of track and bridges, four rail yards, and two stations. As a major node on Amtrak’s busiest line, ticket sales to and from D.C. rank second in the nation; additionally in 2014, more than 416,000 carloads of freight moved through the network and CSX invested $25.7 million in infrastructure within the D.C. rail network. CSX and Amtrak own and are responsible for investing in and maintaining all the rails within D.C. Although commuter services are funded by Virginia and Maryland, major infrastructure improvements at D.C. stations would also require investment from federal and local governments.

What You Should Know about D.C.’s Roads

D.C. consistently ranks as one of America’s most congested cities. In 2014, D.C.’s 3,814 lane-miles of road supported 9.7 million miles of travel causing drivers an estimated 204 million hours of delay, which is the highest in the country on a per vehicle basis and equates to 82 hours per driver in the region. With rapid growth continuing, congestion is expected to worsen by 43% by 2040. To address congestion concerns and improve overall system efficiency, D.C.’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) has put an emphasis on alternative modes of transportation, including adding dedicated bike lanes. Overall, 47% of D.C.’s roads are in good condition, and 25% of which are in poor or worse condition. However, DDOT needs four times its current maintenance budget to maintain the roads at fair condition levels.

Download full version (PDF): Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure

About the National Capital Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers
The National Capital Section was founded in 1916 and currently has more than 3,100 members.  The section is located in Region 2. The National Capital Section serves the District of Columbia; the counties of Montgomery and Prince Georges in Maryland, except College Park in Prince Georges County; the counties of Fairfax and Arlington, and City of Alexandria in Virginia. The National Capital Section’s mission includes: to advance the professional knowledge and improve the practice of civil engineering for our members and those we serve; to advocate for our profession with those whose actions affect us, and to educate those whose actions and responsibilities could benefit from a better understanding of the contributions of civil engineers; to improve our community through effective community outreach programs, local involvement and educational efforts.

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