Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Urbanists Place Profits Over People at Large

Richard Layman presents some good ideas of tunnelfication,
yet seems incapable of protecting such regarding real word examples.

January 8, 2008

 . Tunnelize the Metropolitan Branch railroad line. This is a stretch. It would cost billions and would involve creating tunnels for both the railroad and the subway. But it would allow for adding capacity to that line, which is quickly moving to capacity, and given that the subway line is bracketed by CSX railroad tracks, it can't expand except by having double stacked trains, which we can't do because of the way the tunnels and bridges exist.... (Note that a railroad, maybe CSX, maybe Norfolk Southern, is making their line from Chicago to Richmond capable of carry double stacked containers the whole route. This means adjusting tunnels and bridges...)

Note that this isn't a priority for me, but I think it should be listed nonetheless.

Feb 25 2009

. Therefore, if you create a "deck" in Brookland you create another obstruction, one that creates another problem.

And the whole point of putting the Brookland station and tracks in that vicinity underground had to do with trying to knit the east and west parts of the neighborhood together (oddly, this is somewhat problematic because for the most part, the west parts of the neighborhood are made up of institutional campuses and don't lend themselves very well to connection).

Nov 15, 2011

The proposal for the North Central Freeway was supposed to follow the Metropolitan Branch Railroad line--north on the east side of the tracks and south on the west side of the tracks--but this would have destroyed the quality of life in the area (a very short portion of the route under Rhode Island Avenue was proposed to be tunneled).

Doug Willinger (various websites) has always said that a completely tunnelized freeway should have been considered.

While for many reasons, I don't favor big freeways, above- or below- ground, I am starting to think that the only way to address the Blair Road-Takoma conundrum would be to create a tunnel "freeway" for the through traffic focused mostly on getting from Montgomery County to DC's Central Business District.

2. New York Avenue/Route 50 tunnel

As I mentioned over the weekend, the New York Avenue Transportation Plan recognized that the big problem with traffic on New York Avenue is that because the road functions as a through freeway link from I-95 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to I-395 in DC, connecting to Virginia, much of the traffic on the road is "through traffic" not intended to stop in DC.

This through traffic makes much of the road--from the DC-Maryland line to Downtown DC--traffic engorged, unsightly, and uncomfortable, with negative contributions to quality of life for residents.

They didn't go for broke and recommend a complete tunnelized solution from the DC-Maryland line to the I-395/New York Avenue junction, not because they didn't see the need, but because of the cost.

After all, the Central Artery Project ("Big Dig") in Boston cost over $14 billion for 3.5 miles. This length would be about 5 miles.

Still, one way to make it happen would be to charge tolls, just like the Carmel Tunnels project in Haifa.

3. Add a subway line on New York Avenue?

To make a New York Avenue tunnel project even more expensive, they could put a heavy rail subway line into it as well, from Bladensburg Road to Mount Vernon Triangle, although it could be conceived of, in part as a leg of the proposed separated blue line, which would continue west to Georgetown and then into Virginia.

4. General discussion on tolls

Since these tunnels would mostly be focused on serving nonresidents, except in how they would mitigate the negative impact of use of these roads on quality of life, tolling is a logical response, as a way to impose fees on the users for the costs that they normally impose on others without paying.

June 10, 2013

Condominiums abut Spring Place NW, on the west side of the railroad tracks on the Blair Road side of the Takoma DC neighborhood.

In Takoma, in the past few years three apartment or condo developments have been built abutting the Metro station.  Another development is under construction--a Busboys and Poets will be locating there (see "Busboys and Poets coming to Takoma, and may head to Brookland" from the Washington Post), another on Spring Place is working through the approval process, and another development is in the pipeline. 

With a couple of exceptions these developments will absorb most of the build out capacity of the neighborhood, and going forward beyond these developments there will be limited impact on the extant residential sections of the neighborhood. (The Walter Reed campus abuts part of Takoma and will be redeveloped over the next 20 years.  But this won't impact Takoma per se all that much, other than providing access to additional retail.)

The primary reason I favor denser development at Metro stations is that it allows, for the most part, preservation of the bulk of a neighborhood's residential character with minimal changes.  This is true for both Brookland and Takoma--although the community's unwillingness to make some hard choices in Brookland likely means that Brookland's traditional retail core, currently strung along 12th Street, will  re-center to Monroe Street by the transit station (functioning similarly to the Shoppes at ArtDistrict development in Hyattsville that I wrote about earlier).

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Foolish Surrender of the South Capitol Street Underpass

Every single design for the Douglass bridges messes up the issue. You can still have limited highway like bridge and make it pedestrian friendly.

Underground tunnels- continue the underpass right up to the beginning of the bridge in the left lanes while the right lanes would lead to street level; with that you could keep the park or use the land for something else while still allowing pedestrians a way to cross with little traffic.
Pretty much have a underpass that is decked over for 85% of the time from M Street to southeastern cross walks which would be moved an a entrance to the underpass would be there.
by kk on Dec 24, 2014 8:35 pm • linkreport

Entirely eliminating the underpass is likely being pushed by the property owner of the only building surviving from prior to the recent planning of the south Capitol Street corridor that of St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Church.

RX-  RETAIN the South Capitol Street underpass and extend it, widened with outside shoulders into a true cut and cover tunnel.

Consider extending it north, perhaps just past I Street.

Extend it south to the foot of the new South Capitol Street Bridge.

Consider a southbound underground off ramp to Potomac Avenue.

Design it to ultimately fit with a direct connection into the I-395 Center Leg that would accommodate a set of parallel deeper tunnelways extending beneath the Anacostia River to and from I-295.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Best Vista Along Grand Arc/I-95 Corridor Threatened By Misplaced Development Proposal

What would be the arguably best through the windshield vista anywhere along the U.S. interstate Highway System - on the unbuilt D.C. I-95 corridor where the topography descends -- threatened to be infringed upon by the latest horribly misguided developer's project within Washington, D.C.

The eastern portion of this developer project - by MRP Realty -- needs to be cut back.

See the various tags below to become better acquainted with this matter.

Note that the Grand Arc plan would place the southbound lanes along the railroad's western side, emerging from a tunnel portal just south of Franklin Street.

Grand Arc I-95 at Franklin Street and Rhode Island Avenue area

 MRP Realty Plan- eastern portion infringes upon Grand Arc

In contrast, the dominant 1960s planning placed both directions of I-95 to the east of the railroad, denying this southbound vista to the public, for the sake of placing the highway further away from Catholic University of America.

Friday, June 19, 2015

WMATA to Continue To Push Corridor Chock

WMATA Profiteering at the Public's Expense- seeks to sell off transportation corridor land needed for rail expansion and underground freeway for yet more residential development.

Clearly, the concepts of transit oriented development is being perverted to restrict the publics mobility for the sake of short term profits.

From Aaron Wiener at the Washington City Paper:

Metro Offers Up Two Brookland Parcels for Development


Nine months after picking a team to buy and develop a swath of land it owns near the Brookland Metro station, Metro is seeking to cash in on more of its land holdings in the neighborhood.

Today, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs Metro, offered up two Brookland parcels to developers. The larger parcel, at 21,094 square feet, is just a block south of the Metro station; the smaller one, at 16,239 square feet, is a block south of the first. Both consist of unimproved land—just grass, trees, and shrubs—between the Metro tracks and 9th Street NE.
The move follow's Metro's selection in August 2014 of a partnership of MRP Realty and the CAS Riegler Cos. to develop land just east of the Metro station. The developers there plan to build 280 residential units and 9,000 square feet of retail.

Today's solicitation contains few guidelines as to what developers can and should build on the sites. Given the increasing popularity of the neighborhood among young professionals and families, residential development is likely. Bids are due to Metro by June 19.

The southern parcel, at 9th and Kearny streets NE.

The northern parcel, at 9th and Lawrence streets NE


End this chocking off of vital transportation corridors.
Re-Map the B&O North Central Freeway- as promoted by the slain US President John F. Kennedy, with an update making it and the existing railroad underground beneath a new linear park.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Virginia Avenue CSX Tunnel EIS Released

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) today for the proposed reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. The FEIS incorporates feedback from the community and identifies “Alternative 3 - Two New Tunnels” as the Preferred Alternative for construction. The FEIS and a fact sheet are available at

Under the process prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the agencies considered the alternatives outlined in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), released in July 2013, and determined that Alternative 3 best meets the project’s purpose and need while addressing community concerns and minimizing impacts to the tunnel’s neighbors. 

Alternative 3 has the shortest construction timeframe of the build alternatives considered (approximately 30 to 42 months). It addresses community concerns about moving trains through an open trench during construction by operating trains in an enclosed tunnel at all times in front of residences. It also maintains access for residents and emergency responders to all homes and cross-streets during the entire construction process.

Copies of the FEIS are available for review at the following locations:
  • Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street SE, Washington, DC   20003
  • Southwest Neighborhood Library, 900 Wesley Place SW, Washington, DC 20024
A public meeting will also be held on July 1, 2014 at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I (Eye) Street SW, Washington, DC 20024 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The meeting will include a presentation on the details about construction and will include a brief time to ask questions of the project team. If you need special accommodations or language assistance services please email or leave a message at (202) 681-0646.

The FEIS will be available for review for 30 days before an official decision is released, called the Record of Decision (ROD). After the conclusion of the review period, FHWA will issue a Record of Decision, which provides the basis for the decision, summarizes mitigation measures incorporated into the project and documents any required Section 4(f) approval. Dependent upon the decision in the ROD, CSX will share additional information about timing and other specifics.

For more information about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, visit

The Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Team

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I-395 Center Leg Squeeze- May 2, 2015

About the construction project to illegally constrict the I-395 Center Leg right of way to maximize developer profits at the expense of the general welfare

For more on this, see:


Posted by: "Johnson, Lendia (MPD)"

Hello Everyone:

Here is the latest traffic advisory associated with the next phase of the I-395 Air Right project.  Please see website for additional information.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Lane Reduction, Speed Restrictions on Highway Portion of I-395/3rd Street Tunnel set to begin on Saturday, May 2

Commuters should anticipate delays due to the reduction of one lane on the 2nd Street Off-Ramp to Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Media Contact
Michelle Phipps-Evans, (202) 497-0124, (202) 671-0624,

(Washington, DC) The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Property Group Partners (PGP), the developer for the 3rd Street Tunnel project, will institute a single-lane closure that will reduce the 2nd Street off-ramp to Massachusetts Avenue from I-395 northbound to just one lane, starting Saturday, May 2, at 12:01 am, weather permitting. This closure will last approximately 17 to 19 months.

In addition, the posted speed limit on I-395 will be reduced to 35 miles per hour within this work zone.   Commuters should note that the Metropolitan Police Department will re-install speed cameras along this highway and that fines are doubled for speeding within work zones.

Traffic Impact
The ongoing lane closure on the 2nd Street off-ramp will result in moderate-to-significant traffic delays. Motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists will experience increased travel times and delays . New traffic signal modifications and lane configurations will be implemented at major intersections near the tunnel and ramps. 

Parking restrictions will be placed on D Street from 2nd Street, NW, to New Jersey Avenue, NW. Restrictions  will also be placed on New Jersey Avenue from G Street, NW, to 2nd Street, NW.

Motorists using the tunnel, adjacent roadways and detour routes are urged to stay alert and use caution when traveling through this area. Truck traffic must follow truck detours and adhere to over-height restrictions.

This phase of the 3rd Street Tunnel project, which is ongoing for 17 to 19 months, is preparing the I-395 highway, between E Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, for additional construction.

Also, commuters and pedestrians should note that related roadway construction and utility relocation are occurring above the highway on Massachusetts Avenue and H Street between 2nd and 4th Street, NW.

If at all possible, motorists should use alternative routes. Likewise, pedestrians and bicyclists are urged to stay alert, follow all posted signs and use caution when traveling through the work zones.

For additional details, please contact the project’s public outreach office at (202) 719-0196. For more information about the project, visit
Visit for more information on transportation options in the District.
For additional traffic advisories, look in DDOT's Newsroom.

Email Notice from February 5, 2015.

As Chief Traffic Engineer for the District Department of Transportation, I am writing to provide you with advance information concerning changes in traffic patterns around your building as it relates to the above mentioned project.  The I-395 Air Rights – Capitol Crossing Project is the first of a multi-phase master planned development located over the I-395. Newly designed pedestrian and vehicular corridors will reconnect the Capitol Hill and East End communities, update traffic patterns, and deliver new safety features.  More information about the project can be found on the website.
As the Developer’s Contractor starts (within the next week to 10 days) with the next phase of work you will notice the following:
  • Demolition of the shoulder and median barriers
  • Setting of temporary barriers and signage for Maintenance of Transportation Plans
  • Removal of street light poles and the installation of temporary lighting
  • Installation of duct bank and cabling for replacement of communication system in conflict with the slurry wall
  • Installation of temporary drainage
  • Demolition of the retaining wall on the east side of the north block of the freeway
  • Installation of support of excavation on the east side of the project
  • Excavation between the retaining wall and the support of excavation line on the east side of the project.
  • Closing of southbound exit ramp from I-395 Southbound  at 3rd Street
There will be traffic delays in the area and motorists are urged to stay alert and use caution when traveling through these work zones.  This phase of the project will take approximately four to six months to complete, weather permitting.  We will keep you updated by sending  various traffic advisories.
Thanks for your support.
James M. Cheeks, Jr.

Transportation Operations Administration│Desk (202) 671-1497│ │
Lendia Sue Johnson
Community Outreach Coordinator
Seventh District
Metropolitan Police Department
2455 Alabama Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20020
(202) 698-1454 office
(202) 439-5475 cell
(202) 645-0020 fax
"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back." – Maya Angelo

Friday, April 17, 2015

David Alpert & Company Totally Out of Touch on I-395 Extension

David Alpert - developer shill
Loads up zoning meetings with sycophants for maximizing developer profits by eliminating including off street parking- yet is said to keep his own private auto at his residence in the DuPont Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Whereas popular sentiment favors keeping the Center Leg open, and overwhelmingly favoring its extension to the northeast via a tunnel, David Alpert has written:
But I noticed one very bad idea briefly mentioned on page 24 of the plan, the section on traffic. The neighborhood is very close to the intersection where the I-395 freeway comes out of the tunnel under the Capitol and dead-ends at New York Avenue. This is one of the last pieces to be built of the original DC interstate plan. The Northwest One master plan (from 2005, remember) says, "There is significant congestion along New York Avenue between the I-395 tunnel and North Capitol Street... This study recommends... the extension of the I-395 tunnel from its current terminus to Florida Avenue."
DC planners may have good ideas on smart growth, but at least in 2005 they still were stuck in the past on traffic. Adding more traffic lanes does not reduce congestion; at most it pushes it elsewhere. Extending the tunnel might allow New York Avenue to become a pedestrian-friendly road, but will also make I-395 even more appealing for drivers, increasing traffic volume there. If there are bottlenecks in the tunnel, more drivers may divert to the same city streets the plan aims to protect. And what about New York Avenue east of Florida Avenue? Enabling more traffic will make that area even more difficult to turn into walkable urban neighborhoods one day.
Continuing to surprise me, however, is the federal government: the National Capital Planning Commission conducted a charrette with Federal agencies and six consultants, which resulted in a report recommending the opposite of DC Planning's tunnel extension. Noting that many drivers use New York Avenue and 395 to cut through the District between Maryland and Virginia instead of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Beltway, the report advocates designing New York Avenue to serve DC residents instead of suburbanites. It recommends planners "encourage more smart, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development" and "create a corridor with a better balance of transportation modes (e.g. transit, walking, bicycling)."
For the New York/Florida Avenue intersection, the group suggests policies to "discourage drive-through, auto-oriented uses at the intersection" and "employ traffic-calming measures to slow traffic to a level compatible with the urban neighborhood." Most remarkably, the report recommends DC evaluate congestion pricing in the area, and even cutting I-395 back to end at Massachusetts Avenue (a road which leads to DC neighborhoods on both ends, rather than connecting directly to a Maryland freeway).
This is remarkably progressive thinking from a federal board. This is a major intersection that carries large amounts of traffic, but is also ugly and overly designed for cars. Most Departments of Transportation would only be able to think about increasing its traffic capacity, but NCPC is instead recommending restoring the area to a vibrant urban fabric. And it can be done while still enabling people to drive in and out of the city, just as people successfully do along the avenues to the north, which work relatively well as neighborhood main streets and commuter boulevards at the same time.

This completely ignores the reality that New York Avenue is the de facto extension of the Route 50 freeway from Maryland.

Ryan Avent:
Some would argue that the solution would be to run the freeway all the way through the city, reducing traffic impacts on non-freeway streets. This is a bad idea from an induced demand standpoint and also completely unrealistic. It would cost billions, and if the city was unable to run the freeway through during the golden age of highway construction, it damned sure wouldn’t be able to do it now.

Ryan Avent presents absolutely nothing supporting his view.  He has never discussed any of the various ideas for an I-395 tunnel extension, let alone the history of the planning nor the politics, and pretends that the U.S. Federal government is somehow too poor to spend a a tiny drop of the federal budget on a heavy excavation cut and cover tunnel about 1/4 of a mile in length, plus one with light excavation on an excess parking strip between the north side of New York Avenue and the south side of a sloped embankment to a giant railroad right of way.  He rests entirely upon the 'induced use' hypothesis spin that building something for people to use is a bad thing- a condemnation that would be the flip side of condemning something as being used by too few people as being cost effective.  IOW induced use means that many people use something- making it MORE rather than less cost effective.  Besides we already have the existing Center Leg which was designed with 8 lanes, of which only 4 are in use at its north end- scheduled to be made permanent by the Capitol Crossing Air Rights project's numerous support columns- a fact unreported in the newspaper and real estate development cheer leader media outlet.

We are supposed to take his word because he is a 'new urbanist'.

Digging that out for a box tunnel in that area would be immensely less complicated and thus less expensive than beneath the Avenue, and would be adaptable to an adjoining deck over the rail properties for supporting a new linear parkland and new real estate development.

None of these planning efforts went back to the previous plan in place when the extension was 'de-mapped' during the 1970s which had better geometry but which would have demolished over 500 Victorian era townhouses in the blocks between 4th Street and North Capitol Street.  Nor did the planning consider my alternative of a superior geometry transition tunnel arcing beneath the intersection of New jersey Avenue and N Street to a double stack configuration beneath O Street.

Its a shame yet telling that such writes as Alpert and Advent have apparently stuck their finger to the wind of whatever the hoary old blood medievalists want- screw the general public.