Case Memorial Bridge

Sunday, August 14, 2011 |

An 80 degree August day in Washington, DC, with just a good bit of humidity, is a great day to do a bridge trek. Today we went to the Francis Case Memorial Bridge, one of the lesser bridges in DC (not even earning a Wikipedia entry), but an important commuter artery nonetheless. The Case Bridge crosses Washington Channel, a tributary of the Potomac, and connects East Potomac Park in DC with the waterfront area of Southwest Washington. The Case Bridge carries I-395 and also the Southwest Freeway at that point, and is just northeast of the 14th Street Bridge. The Case Bridge is short, maybe 0.2 miles across, and certainly not very high. It can be accessed on foot from East Potomac Park (look for the tennis courts and the big white tent). East Potomac Park is a great area for biking and sightseeing and is very close to the Tidal Basin and the cherry trees, as well as the Jefferson Memorial. But we've got some bridge walking to do.

First a little history is in order. Francis Case was a senator from South Dakota, Chairman of the Senate's District Committee, who died in office in 1962. He championed DC voting rights and was an important player in the passage of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution that gave DC residents the right to vote for President. He was also instrumental, apparently, in keeping the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge that crosses the Potomac River from going right over the middle of Roosevelt Island, and instead, in a compromise, rerouting the bridge to only the very southern edge of the island. (We've been there. Teddy Roosevelt Bridge Trek.)

Well, the Washington Post reported that the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, completed in 1964, was already named for the President, so they named the newly built bridge over the Washington Channel for Francis Case instead.

The views from the bridge are surprisingly nice. There are lots of boats at a marina on the waterfront side of the channel right below. The Southwest Freeway is a very busy thoroughfare, thus it is certainly not a peaceful walk. I'd say that crossing the Case Bridge by foot would be an excellent addition to a family outing on East Potomac Park. A nice high railing (chin high for me) protects the walkers, and the walkway is good and wide. It earns a low scariness rating, with 1 for length, 2.5 for height, and (measuring the walkway and railings) a 3 for width, making for a 6.5 total scariness rating, one of our lowest.