Saturday, December 13, 2014

Previous Center Leg Air Rights Proposals Respected the Freeway Right of Way


Note the full respect of the 8 lane plus shoulders right of way

From Steve Anderson's D.C. Roads:
In 1988, Barry awarded developer Conrad Monts exclusive air rights over I-395 between D Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Monts planned to build a $35 million office, hotel, and residential complex on a deck above I-395, across the street from Georgetown University Law School. However, when the real estate market collapsed in the early 1990's, Monts removed the residential units from his plan.

Relationships between Monts and the City Council soured through the remainder of the decade, and in 2000 the District sued Monts for back rent on the I-395 air rights amid a dispute over unrelated work on the Wilson Building, which houses the mayor and City Council. The dispute ended in 2001 with the District paying Monts $15.7 million to walk away from the I-395 air rights project; a DC Superior Court grand jury three years later awarded an additional $8.4 million in damages to Monts.



Note the full respect for the 8 lane plus shoulders right of way,
plus a 3rd potential carriageway shown at left

These images came from a 1961 Washington, D.C. transportation study, showing this parking garage to have been built atop the Center Leg..

Friday, December 12, 2014

Unanswered Questions- 3rd Street Tunnel Support Columns and Tunnel Roof

Note that the project website contains NO illustrations of the underground construction, such as the tunnel ceiling, walls or supports.  Why might that be?

So I sent them an email on November 21, 2014:

Do you have any schematics to share showing the tunnel roof and the support columns?

How will the tunnel roof look, and how will the columns and any other structure relating to this project impact the original 48 foot x 2 plus shoulders right of way?


Douglas A. Willinger
A Trip Within the Beltway

As of December 12- NO ANSWER.

Might it be the design shown in a 2009 report?

See image at page 10 showing the I-395 right of way pinch.

 I-395 right of way pinch
Yellow- Parking
Grey-  Service and Loading
Blue- Water Storage
Pink- Concourse

Note the garage structure pinching the southbound roadway.

Note the water tank structure pinching the northbound roadway.

Travel lane capacity is reduced from a potential of 4 lanes with shoulders, 50% to only 2 lanes per direction.

Note the pinched center median WITHOUT a set of left hand shoulders.  Though the freeway has such a set, this design shows pinched center median greatly reducing or eliminating that segment of the left hand shoulder- further reducing design flexibility.

This highway segment had been designed with a 2x4 lane right of way plus shoulders as part of I-95.

When I-95 was canceled following the planning botching generated controversies, the highway was striped for only 2 lanes in each direction, with the extra space in the northern tunnel segment cordoned off with non load bearing walls.  As those walls are non load bearing they can be removed at relatively little expense.   This highway segment, though designed for lanes in each direction was so re-striped to only 2 per direction as it would for a time be truncated at New York Avenue.

Center Leg trench looking north showing unused lanes - photos by Douglas A. Willinger

Prior to the mid 1970s, this area was to include a left hand ramp from the northbound lanes to connect to the planned I-66 K Street Tunnel that had been designed to save neighborhoods.  That explains why the northbound carriageway there is wider then the southbound carriageway.

The Plan- cir 1971 of the northern Center Leg tunnel

Northern Center Leg Tunnel aerial showing expansion joints on K Street

Non load-bearing wall- photo and below caption from Steve Anderson's dcroads

This 2004 photo shows the northbound Center Leg Freeway (I-395) approaching the Massachusetts Avenue tunnel portal. The northern terminus of I-395 at New York Avenue is less than one-half mile ahead past the tunnel. Note how the two additional travel lanes in each direction are separated by concrete "Jersey" barriers. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

Since then, an I-395 Tunnel extension has been proposed.

1996 'Ron Linton' Plan for I-395 Tunnel Extension

That plan, would likely involve some modifications to the existing northern tunnel segment that is located between Massachusetts Avenue and K Street.  Given the existing 4 northbound lanes have 50% of their capacity diverted to the offramp just south of Massachusetts Avenue by the Georgetown Law Center, such planning could have likely involved a re-striping to at least 3 lanes per direction, if not 4 owing to merge lane issues.

So, is this I-395 Air Rights Plan, now called the I-395 Tunnel Project adhering to this disastrous 2009 design?

That design PERMANENTLY blocks off the extra existing trench-way lane space for extra parking and water tanks.  It even despicably pinches the center median to greatly reduce or eliminate the median shoulder so the highway can not even be expanded from 2 to 3 lanes in either direction while maintaining shoulders!

If so, have any studies been done on how much it would cost to recover the lost capacity, either by partial demolition or by constructing parallel cut and cover tunnels on either side of the Center Leg?


New email message to   --  December 12, 2014

I received no reply to my email of November 21, 2014.

Does your project use the designs shown in the 2009 report that pinch the I-395 right of way?

What is the width of the northbound and southbound mainlines once the project is completed?

Douglas A. Willinger
A Trip Within The Beltway

Air Rights Project Environmental Assessment
Table of Contents

See page 16- shows 'typical' I-395 segment with 2 12' lanes plus a 4' left and 12' right shoulder.
See page 62- states "No room for all 4 lanes on either side of Air Rights Tunnel"
NOTE not entirely true- the northern I-395 tunnel segment is designed for 4 southbound lanes and 4-5 northbound lanes plus shoulders (the existing walls are non load bearing and were a later design addition that being non load bearing could be relatively easily removed) ; the southern I-395 tunnel segment has 4 lanes in each direction with at least a set of right shoulders, but perhaps inadequate width for the necessary merge lanes and hence has its outermost lanes required as merge lanes.

This report gives little or no consideration to ever constructing an extension of I-395 to the north-north-east, nor any connections for an I-66 K Street Tunnel- a plan created by opponents to the original I-66 plans, and which was 'demapped' during the 1970s to jump-start WMATA rail funding at a time when it was believed that the world was going to run out of petroleum by the 1990s, hence somehow making private automobiles obsolete.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Erased Comments From WP Article 'DC Dropping Request to Shut Down Part of I-395

A newspaper that has repeatedly lied about the feasibility of completing Washington DC highways as the previously planned I-95 on behalf of the power elites can be expected to erase comments that question the 'wisdom' of an unpopular request to shut down part of a popularly used urban freeway.

6:06 AM EST
DDOT's behavior here reeks of behind the scenes deals and bribes.

Their weird silence, stonewalling of the WP requests for information, and then their idiotic stance that since it's part of 395 that they can't weigh in was absurd.
12/9/2014 11:14 PM EST [Edited]
Why not simply re-route both directions temporarily upon one of the two main carriageways to better facilitate construction? The space exists within the Mass Ave to K Street segment as that was designed to accommodate 4 lanes per direction- remove the non-load bearing walls that were erected to create storage areas. Of course they would have to revise the plans to remove that portion of a planned underground parking garage that blocks a portion of the southbound carriageway- as they should. The project should be designed to be flexible to not impinge upon the 2x4 of way, with future connections to a crosstown K Street Tunnel as proposed by Elizabeth Rowe to preserve neighborhoods, and likewise with an extension curved under the Dunbar recreation field and O Street that avoids the 600+ demolitions of the previous extension plans.
12/9/2014 11:24 PM EST
You clearly have no concept of DC traffic. This would be an absolute nightmare for thousands of people.
12/9/2014 11:50 PM EST [Edited]
Canned reply from some one with nothing to say pretending that they do.

The northern portion of I-395 already exists with 2 lanes per direction; allowing the full 2x4 width for half used at a time would mean the same number of open lanes during construction as now.
12:54 AM EST
Because those are horrible ideas that would never happen cost wise?
10:58 AM EST
Baseless criticism from trolls hiding behind pseudonyms offering nothing.

The whole idea of closing the freeway segment entirely is to provide the space for erecting the center median supports; currently there is much space being used for closed off lanes to the outer portion of the trenchway for the sake of storage space that has been used for the lion statutes from the Taft bridge, and for underground parking that could be made elsewhere.

The K Street Tunnel was the idea promoted by opponents of the original cross town I-66 plans that would have cleared 100s of buildings along Florida Avenue and U Street, with its higher costs per inch offset by the shorter route and the use of existing right of way hence avoiding the gap in property tax revenue.

The alternative plan for the I-395 extension likewise avoids the property tax loss by reducing displacement over 95% from the 1970s plan, while avoiding the construction disturbance to traffic of using NY Avenue itself on the highly used segment from 4th Street NW to North Capitol Street, and avoiding the permanent liability of the sharp turn of the Ron Linton plan of a 25 mph curved tunnel wrapping behind the Bibleway Church complex.
12/9/2014 8:24 PM EST
Do DDOT officials have to give the bribe money back?
12/9/2014 7:02 PM EST
I have yet to meet anyone living here in DC who supported closing the freeway.

The developers knew the timetable when they agreed to build the project.

If they have to wait an extra year to start raking in the millions, that's their problem.
12/9/2014 6:49 PM EST
Well, that didn't take long. And sure PGP, we believe you when you say you were looking out for the interests of drivers rather than the bottom line of PGP.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Richard Layman Proposes Renaming 11th Street Bridges After Marion Barry
I don't favor a renaming of a major arterial for Marion Barry, although I'd be fine with a ceremonial renaming of a bridge--many states including Maryland names bridges in honor of politicians, soldiers killed in the line of duty, etc.

For such a name change, I'd nominate the 11th Street bridges--which connect the city, east and west of the Anacostia River, and Ward 6 to Ward 8--as suitable for renaming in honor of Marion Barry.

I concur.

I agree. Given his role with ECTC, in stopping I-95 by Catholic University of America, he played a role in disproportionately routing the freeway traffic through DC's least affluent areas.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Marion Barry Dies and the Obituaries Don't Mention His Anti Freeway Role!

Marion Barry dies.  March 6, 1936-November 23, 2014.


Numerous obituaries, such as the following from The Washington Post- and none mention his role in stopping Washington, D.C.'s freeway system!
D.C. debut
In 1965, Mr. Barry arrived in Washington to direct activities for the SNCC. This came at a critical juncture in D.C. race relations.

Nationally, the civil rights movement was heating up. There had been riots in the black enclaves of several urban centers, and more were to come. In Washington, the post-World War II flight of whites to the suburbs had given the city a population that was majority African American. But the local government was dominated by whites and subject to the oversight of white-dominated congressional committees. There was no home rule.

The stage was set for Mr. Barry’s D.C. political debut. Clad in a dashiki shirt and speaking in inflammatory rhetoric, he established himself as a visible presence with a forceful voice that could not easily be ignored.
In January 1966, he led a one-day bus “mancott” to protest a fare increase requested by D.C. Transit. He organized a “Free D.C. Movement” to press for home rule. He called D.C. police “an occupation army.” In 1969, he tore up a parking ticket, struck the officer who had placed it on his windshield and was charged with assault. The case ended with a hung jury.
Rep. John L. McMillan (D-S.C.), the chairman of the House Committee on the District of Columbia and one of the most influential men in Washington, was among the targets of his rhetoric. “The citizens of the District of Columbia,” Mr. Barry declared, “are tired of living on the McMillan plantation.”

In the winter of 1967, Mr. Barry resigned as director of SNCC’s Washington office, declaring, “Now we must concentrate on control — economic and political power.”
With financial support from the U.S. Department of Labor, he organized and directed a group known as Pride Inc., which put more than 1,000 inner-city youths to work clearing alleys of trash and debris, killing rats — and later running gas stations and a landscaping business and managing an apartment building.

In 1971, Mr. Barry won his first election for citywide office, defeating the chairman of the school board, Anita F. Allen, for an at-large seat on the board.

None of the obituaries or even his wikipedia bio mention his involvement with the doctrinaire anti-freeway group ECTC.

CHAIRMAN: R.H. Booker  VICE CHAIRMEN Marion Barry, Jr. - Charles I. Cassell  Fed Heutte - Johnie D. Wilson  SECRETARIAL COMMITTEE: Mary Alice Brown, Chairman- Ann Heutte - Angela Rooney - LEGAL COUNSEL Simon L. Cain TREASURER: Mrs. Leon Brooks PLANNING CONSULTANTS: 2MJQ  Black Advocacy Planners  SPEAKERS BUREAU: Louis M. Florenzo, Chairman  PUBLICITY DIRECTOR: Sammie Abdullah Abbott

It is as if that movement is not being seen as part of a legitimate protest, but rather a manipulation.

Indeed.  The anti freeway protests had some legitimate targeting- such as the earlier planning as the I-66 new swath displacing 100s of residences along Florida Avenue and U Streets, and the 1964 recommended route for the North Central Freeway that seriously deviated from the recently assassinated John F. Kennedy's vision for a B&O Route North Central Freeway.

But was we know, the freeway should have been (and can still be built) properly, such as with the I-66 North Leg; and that the doctrinaire anti freeway stance was effectively a protest on behalf of the wealthiest and most political powerful to get over upon the general public.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blatent Police Misconduct OK in Washington D.C.?

Poor police training.

Police officer threatening a citizen for video recording an arrest from a safe distance, yet as of late November, no evidence of disciplinary action sending the message that police misconduct is OK.

Taken on sidewalk next to the D.C. Public Library.

From You Tube:

Published on Sep 7, 2014

EDIT | 9/10/14: I filled out a PD-99 Citizen Complaint form with MPD Sunday night and submitted it to Internal Affairs and the District 1 Commander. I heard back from Commander Jeff Brown and Captain Brian Harris on Monday afternoon, and again from Capt. Harris Tuesday night. Capt. Harris told me the officers shown were clearly in the wrong, that he and another officer he showed it to said "What the hell!?" aloud while watching it. He told me that the officers in the video would be disciplined.

Prior to this incident I wasn't aware of MPD General Order 304.19 set forth in July, 2012 regarding "Video Recording, Photographing, and Audio Recording of Metropolitan Police Department Members by the Public." It's found here and addresses a number of the issues I brought up in the video:

I pulled out my phone and began recording when I came upon a man being physically restrained by 7 D.C. police officers outside the downtown branch of the D.C. Public Library September 7, 2014, at 6:24 p.m.

The video came out blurry, but 48 seconds in, Officer C.C. Reynolds (badge 3983) didn't like that I was recording the proceedings, and tried to intimidate me into leaving the scene.

I don't know what happened before this, whether the man was indeed fighting, or whether the large police response was warranted, but in light of the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island, N.Y., and elsewhere, I thought it prudent to stay and observe the arrest. I know that I have a right to occupy a public place, and that recording the police isn't cause for suspicion or accusation of wrongdoing.

I don't appreciate the intimidation tactics Officer Reynolds used to try to bully me into leaving. I believe the D.C. Police Department should apologize, reprimand Officer Reynolds, and work to ensure that its officers understand the rights of the public.

At one point in the video I point out that the D.C. Police Department is considering the use of body cameras. More on that here:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Save McMillan's Underground Vaults!

Don't assume that knee-jerk opposition to freeways necessarily means historic preservation.

In Washington, D.C. it means reflexive support to 'develop' via destroying some of our most interesting architectural history to increase property tax revenues.

Such a demolition of these interesting 26 underground vaults is supported by the so-called 'Smart Growth' organizations that are contemptuous of the importance of roads and food supply, with preservationist Daniel Gordon Wolkoff making the valuable yet rarely made point of the need for cities to produce some of their food.

From Daniel Wolkoff:
The City Council testimony below, by Brookland resident, landscape architect Mary Pat Rowan, exposed the Jamie Fontaine Company "astroturf" campaign, hired by Deputy Mayor Jeff Miller and Vision McMillan Partners , to "neutralize opposition" and "create the impression of community support  for the VMP development plan".

Is this the appropriate use of our  tax dollars? To suppress DC community opposition to the McMillan Development, subvert the community that recognizes how desperately parks are needed, and support sustainable  adaptive re-use, an imperative for a healthy environment in DC and for Mother Earth.
Washington historic restoration artist Daniel Goldon Wolkoff explains the imperative of saving the 20 acre "McMillan Underground", from demolition, for adaptive re-use, for sustainable indoor agriculture, a food/nutrition and outdoor exercise hub in the central city. The recreational use and community building activities at McMillan are endless, art, performance, cinema, cafe, city market, skating, concerts, a Wolf Trap stage for music and festivals and more. The DC govt is "disposing" of McMillan to the development conglomerate and lying that we have no use for our 25 acre  "great park". Tell them otherwise!

Testimony to Muriel Bowser Chair of the City Council Committee on
Economic Development, February 11, 2014. This link goes to the testimony on McMillan Park