Bowser flips switch on ‘grand work of public art’ at Francis Case Memorial Bridge.
By Catherine Trifiletti and Evan J. Berkowitz
Washington, D.C., is a city of monuments — and any regular mall-goer knows the best time to see them is at night, all lit up.
Now, a less conspicuous District landmark has been illuminated. On Aug. 18, Citelum, the same light architects that brightened up the Eiffel Tower and London Bridge, flipped the switch on the Francis Case Memorial Bridge, which carries 175,000 cars back and forth from the Southwest Waterfront to East Potomac Park daily.
Mayor Muriel Bowser did the honors and officially inaugurated the bridge’s new look as a part of developer Hoffman-Madison’s efforts to beautify the Southwest Waterfront ahead of its eagerly-anticipated development, The Wharf, a $2 billion mixed-use project set for first-phase completion in October 2017.
The sun set over the Potomac River as friends, media and supporters of The Wharf gathered at the still-under-construction District Pier, off Maine Avenue SW, to celebrate the lighting. Some guests used mallets to crack open fresh Maryland crabs, while less ambitious attendees stuck to lobster rolls, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese provided by the Red Hook Lobster and Jessie Taylor Seafood.
Before the lighting, Monty Hoffman of Wharf developer PN Hoffman expressed his sincere gratitude for Bowser’s support of the bridge initiative, which has been more than a decade in the making. He also joked that, in the nights leading up to the event, he had nightmares akin to Chevy Chase’s failed lighting in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Onlookers waited with baited breath as Bowser repeatedly pressed a giant button, waiting for the light show to commence. An awkward silence soon gave way to cheers cheers as a flicker of 400 neon-blue LED lights lined the mile-long bridge for the first time. Fireworks exploded overhead in celebration, and Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen‘s earlier remarks came to life: “This is going to be a really special place.”