WASHINGTON – The Benning Road Bridge over the Anacostia River now has a name of its own.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Wednesday dedicated the bridge in honor of Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
Kennedy has devoted much of her later years to social and environmental causes, especially in the neighborhoods along and near the Anacostia River.
“Ethel Kennedy is legendary in the District of Columbia, not only for her dedication to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, but also for her fierce passion to restore the environmental health of the river that runs through our city’s heart,” Gray said in a ceremony at River Terrace Park.
Benning Road is one of the oldest river crossings in the city with records dating back to the Civil War era. The current bridge was erected in 1934 and serves about 70,000 vehicles daily.
There are 11 bridges that span the Potomac and Anacostia rivers in D.C.
Many of the river crossings are named after local icons and important figures in the city’s history. Most of the structures have been rebuilt several times following floods and fires or because of age.
Anacostia River Bridges
The Frederick Douglass Bridge carries South Capitol Street. (Google Maps)
South Capitol Street – Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, named for the famous writer and abolitionist, carries South Capitol Street above the Anacostia River and connects Interstate 295 and the Suitland Parkway with neighborhoods around the Navy Yard and Nationals Park. The bridge was rehabilitated and accented with new lighting to coincide with the opening of Nationals Park in late 2007.
The 11th Street Bridge is among the newest bridges in the city. (Google Maps)
11th Street Bridge and Kevin Welsh Memorial Bridge
The youngest of the city’s major bridges, the new 11th Street Bridge opened to fully traffic in the summer of 2013 after an extensive construction project. At a ceremony in September 2013, the bridge’s outbound span was dedicated to fallen officer Kevin J. Welsh of the Metropolitan Police Department. Welsh drowned while attempting to save a woman who jumped off the bridge.
The Sousa Bridge is named for the famous conductor. (Google Maps)
Pennsylvania Avenue – John P. Sousa Bridge
Pennsylvania Avenue spans the Anacostia River over the John P. Sousa Bridge. The bridge is named for the famous U.S. Marine Corps Band conductor and composer, who is buried at nearby Congressional Cemetery. The original crossing has roots that date as far back as the turn of the 19th Century. The current structure was built in the late 1930s and connects the present-day neighborhoods of Randle Highlands and Barney Circle.
Whitney Young Memorial Bridge carries East Capitol Street.(Google Maps)
East Capitol Street – Whitney Young Memorial Bridge
East Capitol Street extends from the U.S. Capitol east toward RFK Stadium and the Anacostia River. The East Capitol Street Bridge above the Anacostia is named after civil rights activist Whitney Moore Young Jr., whose lifelong work with the National Urban League sought to end workplace discrimination. The bridge was dedicated to Young in 1973, two years after his death.
The newly named Ethel Kennedy Bridge carries Benning Road. (Google Maps)
Benning Road – Ethel Kennedy Bridge
Dedicated to the widow of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy Wednesday, the Benning Road Bridge crosses the Anacostia’s Kingman Island in Northeast. For two decades, Mrs. Kennedy worked to engage underserved youth in neighborhoods throughout the eastern part of the city.
The New York Avenue Bridge crosses the Anacostia. (Google Maps)
New York Avenue Bridge
On the outer fringes of the District, New York Avenue crosses the narrowing waters of the Anacostia River just north of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The bridge is one of only three bridges not named for a famous figure.
Potomac River Bridges
The Francis Scott Key Bridge (or Key Bridge) and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge are named after the author and former president respectively.
The Chain Bridge and Arlington Memorial Bridge are not currently named after local icons.
The inbound and outbound 14th Street Bridge spans are dedicated to Arland D. Williams Jr., a passenger aboard Air Florida Flight 90, and founding father George Mason. But the structures are more commonly referred to as the 14th Street Bridge.