Teddy Roosevelt Bridge

Sunday, August 15, 2010 |

In short, it was an ugly day for an ugly bridge. The Teddy Roosevelt Bridge carries Interstate 66 across the Potomac River between Rosslyn in Northern Virginia and Washington DC. The Roosevelt Bridge opened in 1964 and at one end goes just over the edge of Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is an underappreciated Washington park accessible only by a footbridge. The bridge itself is low enough that the trees from the island bounce up against the bridge near the Virginia side. The bridge looks like an iron structure, with signs of rust, far from picturesque. Some have noted the irony of Teddy Roosevelt's island, maintained by the National Park Service as a natural park, having such a bridge going over it.

The TR Bridge is a little over a half mile long, very low, and with pretty narrow pedestrian walkways on both sides. We went on the south side. The combination of a narrow walkway and a very low, thigh-level barrier separating the vehicles from the pedestrians does not make for a relaxing stroll. And the barriers on the water side aren't all that high either, about just above waist level. So, as far as scariness rating is concerned, what the bridge gives in height, it makes up in cramped, unprotected walkway. I give it a scariness rating of 2 (out of 10) for height, 3 for length, and 7 for width (solidity of side barriers, nearness to edge, etc), making a sum of 12 out of a possible 30. Not so bad, but not so great. Here's a case where others might agree with me, especially those who don't like cars driving just about right next to them at near highway speed.

And not all days can be nice ones for a bridge trek. The morning was overcast with a shower that went through town, and the forecast was for improving conditions, so we were off. The rain had stopped until we made it up to the bridge, when it started to sprinkle, and then by the time we were in the middle of the bridge, it was a steady rain, with some mild gusty winds, and who brings umbrellas onto a bridge trek? We started from the DC side, made it most of the way across, reaching Roosevelt Island, then turned around. The rain stopped as we exited the bridge. There were no other pedestrians or bikers on the bridge; they could not have been missed. That bridge is not made for pedestrians. It doesn't really seem to leave pedestrians off anywhere useful on the Virginia side anyway.

Well, maybe we can give that bridge another chance on a better day. And maybe during rush hour to slow down traffic.