Friday, December 01, 2006


1971: PEPCO I-95 Conceptualization
The first serious look at the PEPCO Power Line -95 concept came around 1971.

The 1971 De Leuw-Weese study would acknowledge and recommend it as providing virtually the same level of service, and construction cost. According to the 1971 study, constructing I-95 via the PEPCO right of way was feasible, and that the costs of relocating the power lines underground to make room for the highway was not cost prohibitive for the 8 lane extension. It would continue past the southern end of the PEPCO right of way in the vicinity of Ray Road and New Hampshire Avenue, crossing beneath New Hampshire Avenue to run along its northern side as a depressed highway for the roughly 1600 foot long segment in Maryland, as well as the first roughly 1600 foot long segment within the District, before turning south/south-easterly to gain cross beneath New Hampshire Avenue, to follow the B&O railroad corridor.

The 1971 De Leuw-Weese study would note that this route was superior, insofar that it would provide a far less expensive means of accessing North Capital Street by New Hampshire Avenue, rather than the long tunnel for North Capital Street ramp access proposed with the earlier Fort Drive-Circle Park routing between Gallatin and Galloway Streets NE.


8 lane extension within 250 foot right of way, thereby abandoning the wide median of the Northwest Branch Park I-95 plans, and built I-95 north of the Beltway. Total length, from interchange at Capital Beltway to interchange B in D.C. at junction of B&O railroad and New York Avenue corridors would be 8.6 miles in Maryland and Washington, D.C., displacing 59 dwelling units and 32 business locations in the District, with between 40 and 110 dwelling units in Maryland depending upon ultimate design and alignment (particularly the interchanges), with a total monetary cost of $176 million (preliminary investigation).

Options to relocate or bury power lines.

Would continue past southern terminus of PEPCO right of way by passing via tunnel beneath New Hampshire Avenue in Maryland, and again in D.C. to join the B&O route. There would be some consideration the following year (1972) to a "split" route I-95, with the northbound lanes via Northwest Branch, and the southbound lanes via the PEPCO right of way.

1973: PEPCO I-95 Adopted by Maryland State Highway Administration for Study

In February 1973, the PEPCO alignment essentially became the official routing of the Maryland portion of the I-95 extension with the Maryland State Department of Transportation decision to drop all planning for this extension's previous routing via Northwest Branch Park . According to Maryland Secretary of Transportation Harry R. Hughes:

"My decision to abandon further study of the Northwest Branch alternative is based on the availability of a feasible and prudent alternative which costs less, has significantly lower impact on housing and parklands, and provides nearly the same level of service."

That year's Western Prince George's County Transportation Alternatives Study would consider a variety of options for this extension with an emphasis upon downscaling, including:

  • classifying it as a parkway south of University Boulevard to the PEPCO corridor's southern terminus near the intersection of Ray Road and New Hampshire Avenue, 1600 feet north of the District line,
  • classifying it as a bus way for the continuation along the north side of New Hampshire Avenue into D.C. to the railroad corridor to Ft. Totten in D.C.

The 1973 PEPCO I-95 differed from the 1971 in several others ways:

  • 6 lane configuration with 2 lanes in each direction flanking a median 2 lane roadway that would be reversible, running southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening,
  • 700 foot long cut and cover tunnel to carry I-95 where the PEPCO corridor crosses Northwest Branch Park
  • interchanges designed to not take homes- hence no clover leafs.
  • an elevated, rather than a tunneled crossing of New Hampshire Avenue past the PEPCO corridor's southern terminus immediately along the south side of Ray Street, with a sharper curve in the Poplar Mills area, reducing this highway segment's design speed from 70 to 55 mph.

Description of 1973 PEPCO I-95 route:

- a largely depressed roadway with 2 lanes per direction plus shoulders, with a reversible 2 lane roadway in the median for HOV traffic and buses, almost entirely employing the existing power line right of way.

- Overpasses for Metzerott and Adelphi Roads, University Boulevard, Riggs Road, East West Highway.

- Interchanges at University Avenue and East West Highway, non-cloverleaf design to avoid taking houses.

- One underground segment: a 750 foot long cut and cover tunnel where the PEPCO right of way crosses North West Branch Park.

- A high viaduct to bring I-95 over New Hampshire Avenue with a 55 mph design speed, replacing tunnel concept of the 1971 planning, due to the expressed constraint of not relocating the PEPCO transmission station, and the challenging topography at the southern end of the PEPCO right of way. Accordingly this was done to avoid a far longer and costlier tunnel segment needed to cross beneath the existing New Hampshire Avenue grade where it ascends/descends a hill, alongside the transmission station. (It is not apparent if the alternative of providing the necessary clearances with a new bridge to carry New Hampshire Avenue, with I-95 entering a cut and cover tunnel through this new New Hampshire Avenue Bridge's abutment, thereby placing the project more within the existing footprint of pavement, avoiding the woods to the north.)

- 70 mph design speed, except for this transition from the southern end of the PEPCO right of way to the north side of New Hampshire Avenue in Poplar Mills area, which had a design speed of 55 mph.

- 5% maximum grade

Linear feet: 25,850 total,

at bridge 1500

at grade 0

depressed 19300

embankment 4300

tunnel 750

Would have achieved the I-95 extension without cutting thousands of trees of the traditional I-95 routing via Northwest Branch Park. By employing the existing clear cut of the PEPCO right of way, with the southernmost Maryland portion through strip retail properties along the north side of New Hampshire Avenue, this highway was to lay within the existing footprint.

By continuing along the north side of New Hampshire Avenue inside Washington D.C. for the 1600 foot segment to connect with the B&O railroad routing, this highway would take a low number of homes -- 5 alongside the north side of New Hampshire immediately inside the District, 12 along the southern 2/3ds of the 200 block of Rittenhouse and Easter, plus 5-6 near the B&O railroad -- due to this segment's short length, and that much of it is occupied by the large open field of the Masonic Eastern Star Home. (It has more recently been known as the Med Life Center). Because of the topography, the D.C. segment alongside New Hampshire Avenue would have been below grade (depressed). Because of that property's architectural dignity, that highway segment should be a full cut and cover tunnel (an option that I have not found any consideration in the 1971-73 document).

Fast Facts 1971 Northwest Branch Park 1971 PEPCO


I-95 northbound Northwest Branch

I-95 southbound PEPCO

1973 PEPCO

8 lanes, 450 foot wide r-o-w 8 lanes

8 lanes

6 lanes


Residential displacement

110: Maryland

0: D.C.

110 Maryland

25 D.C.

0 Maryland

25 D.C.

The 1971 8 lane PEPCO I-95 concept would have taken 110 houses in Maryland because of its interchange design and not because of its width which would fit comfortably within the 250 foot wide wight of way, with its pair of 72 foot roadways (4 12 foot lanes flanked by 12 foot shoulders) and center barrier. The 1973 concept of a 6 lane concept of 3 separate roadways with only 2 through lanes apiece would reduce capacity by 25 to 50%, while reducing the width by only about 25 feet or 1/6th, owing to the additional shoulders.

The 1973 study addressed various segmented options of a full interstate highway to University Avenue with a "parkway" to Ray Road by New Hampshire Avenue, and a further continuation (less likely due to the topography for the effort) of a busway along New Hampshire Avenue to continue along the B&O Red Line WMATA line to Fort Totten.

The 1973 plan added cut and cover tunnel segments in the vicinity of the Cool Springs neighborhood to cross Northwest Branch, and was entirely depressed except at its southern end for the transition to the New Hampshire Avenue corridor.

The PEPCO-B&O option offers the best spread of road service with the least impacts for a northern D.C. radial in a grand arc where its desperately needed, between Route 50 in Maryland and I-395 (I-95) in Virginia, respectively at 3 o'clock counterclockwise to 7 o'clock on the Capital Beltway. It's a situation that is blissfully disregarded by officials to this very day.

With the PEPCO right of way, no houses would be displaced in Maryland, with 13 strip retail properties required for the 1600 foot long continuation to the MD-DC line that would be replaceable by new air rights development; and 25 houses immediately within DC along a one block stretch of Eastern Avenue and Rittenhouse Street NE.

The basic B&O route for I-95 would have taken only 34 houses as designed by 1970.

This could quite conceivable further reduce this to the 11 closest to the railroad, if not reduced to 0, particularly with placing the southbound lanes just west of the railroad, with everything in a fully encased cut and cover tunnel for shielding the area from traffic noise and pollution.

The U.S. National Capital Planning Commission would turn against
the B&O Route North Central Freeway by 1968, declaring that it would simply add "another arterial". That position, enshrined as official orthodoxy by the early 1970s altogether disregards that the B&O North Central Freeway with a connection to I-95 would rather add something that was altogether lacking in the entire northern and then some portion of the Capital Beltway from Route 50 in Maryland at 3 o'clock, and I-95 (I-395) in Virginia at 8 o clock: a super arterial.

That orthodoxy would essentially cancel the most needed un-built highway link -- the sole north-south link -- requiring the least displacement.

The North Leg East segment to connect to the Center Leg (3rd Street Tunnel)

1971 design DeLeuw, Cather Associates and Harry Weese Associates

Ironically, the B&O Route North Central Freeway was canceled years earlier as a "white man's road through black man's home" years before the cancellation of the North Leg East segment needed to connect it with the existing I-95 Center Leg (today's I-395 3rd Street Tunnel)..

As designed by 1971, that would have taken over 600 homes, yet it remained in planning documents until around 1980 in order to connect the Center Leg with an easterly connection along New York Avenue to Maryland Route 50.

A later design, unveiled in 1996 through the Office of the D.C. Mayor reduces this dwelling displacement to 0 via a cut and cover tunnel directly under New York Avenue that wraps around the rear side of the Bibleway Church Complex with a relatively tight curved transition from the existing Center Leg with questionably limited line of sight safety issues.

My own design for that area would take a cut and cover tunnel that passes to the north, directly beneath the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and N Street NW, the recreation field of Dunbar HS and O Street. This would avoid the 600+ houses east of New Jersey Avenue to North Capitol Street at the expense of the 34 to the immediately west, all east of 4th Street NW, while providing the best (safest) operation ability with a far gentler curved transition. Dunbar HS appears to have been situated for this, even though this option appears in no official documents, and is simply what I came up with independently.

A 21st century design re-adoption for the entire project should increase the amount of segments that are fully covered, including a 1/4 mile segment centered around University Avenue as well as the segment along side New Hampshire Avenue as a foundation for new mixed use development, and park covered segments further north in the Cool Springs area and alongside the National Archives II facility,

Such a redesign should address the transition are between the PEPCO right of way and the New Hampshire Avenue corridor. Whereas the 1971 design sought superior geometry underground, and the 1973 design sought reduced costs with an elevated transition with a reduced design speed, a 21st redesign could explore an elevated transition at a lower grade crossing beneath a new bridge for New Hampshire Avenue reducing the footprint of surface roadways in this Poplar Mills valley.

Of course the segment along New Hampshire Avenue for the 1600 foot long segment between the DC-MD line and the B&O railroad corridor should be a cut and covered tunnelway, in order to preserve the architectural dignity of the Masonic Eastern Star Home.

Likewise for the entire B&O corridor in the Brookland/CUA area at least from Taylor to Franklin Streets, where we would have the space for a grand new monumental mall that would be known as the Grand Arc.

1973 PEPCO I-95

1971 DeLeuw

1971 design I-70S North Central Freeway at Takoma, D.C.

I-95 Northeast Freeway

The 1971 design proposal would adopt the "Fort Drive" routing, entering D.C. and running between Gallatin and Galloway Streets NE from a Maryland route via Northwest Branch Park. It differed from the 1966 plan primarily in adopting decking over -- essentially making cut and cover tunnel segments -- for portions within the subsequently renamed Fort Circle Park, with recreation facilities atop. Like the 1966 plan, it featured a rail transit line in its median, later built as the WMATA Metro Rail Green Line, as well as provide for a future tunneled connection to North Capital Street.

Though adopting the "Fort Drive" routing because of its long-standing, the 1971 DeLeuw/Weese study would discuss the variety of I-95 Northeast Freeway routes considered- previously and contemporaneously.

It would recommend in favor of the PEPCO Route for the I-95 Northeast Freeway in Maryland, with a set of dashed line indicating the location of its below ground level extension immediately north-parallel of New Hampshire Avenue for the 1600 segment beyond the PEPCO right of way to the D.C. line, and then within the District for another 1600 feet to meet the B&O railroad corridor. Adopting the PEPCO/New Hampshire Avenue route would save the 100 acres of parklands and 110 residences of the Northwest Branch park routing, as well as the Fort Drive Park/Fort Circle Park acreage within D.C., hence taking 0 residences in Maryland, at the trade of of 13 strip commercial properties along New Hampshire Avenue in Maryland including two gasoline stations, a Popeye's Chicken franchise and a Trak Super Auto Parts Store, and 23 houses within D.C., primarily towards the southern portion of the 200 blocks of Rittenhouse Street and Eastern Avenue NE.

I-95 North Central Freeway

Both plans maintained similar designs for the I-70S North Central Freeway - I-95 North East Freeway interchange, with these 6 and 8 lane highways merging together near Ft. Totten (with I-95 transitioning from 8 to 6 lanes with an exit only right lane to a connection to North Capital Street) into a 10-12 lane I-95 North Central Freeway, the 12th lane being a merge lane ending in the vicinity of CUA and west Brookland, with 10 lanes continuing through the I-95 North Leg. Both low level plans maintained the same alignment through the western edge of Brookland, avoiding Turkey Thicket via a routing immediately along the B&O railroad's east side through industrial properties before entering today's Metro Rail CUA/Brookland station bus depots, sidewalks and parking areas, altogether avoiding Brooks Mansion (in contrast to the 1960 and 1964 plans). Both plans maintained the same basic alignment to the south, with the highway following the railroad less closely as the former continued more due south while the railroad began arcing to the south, south-west, despite the latter route's superior panoramic southbound vista not mentioned in any of these highway design studies.

The 1971 design would adopt the Washington D.C. Department of Public Works 1970 alignment revision to reduce the number of homes required for removal from 69 to 34, along with the concept of decking over this portion of the highway, starting at a point about 400 feet north of Michigan Avenue, extending roughly 1/2 to the south, with its southern portal immediately south of Rhode Island Avenue. As so illustrated, the area would be devoted to community uses and Metro rail, with a parking lot with an adjacent supermarket proposed for the north side of Michigan Avenue, replacement townhouses built directly atop this "acoustically treated deck" as well as a one block long covering of the adjacent railroad for a proposed playground just north of Jackson Street.

South of Rhode Island Avenue the I-95 North Central Freeway transitions to a depressed, and then to an elevated roadway, rising up to join the interchange "B" (as designated by this 1971 DeLeuw-Weese study) between the I-95 North Central Freeway, the I-95 North Leg, the I-295 East Leg, and the Route 50 New York Avenue Industrial Freeway, with I-95 turning from a southerly to a more south-westerly alignment with its transition from the North Central to the North Leg.

The East Leg with tunnel segment under and along Mt. Ollivett Street. This would have taken some of the North Central Freeway traffic towards and past RFK Stadium as a bypass alternative route to the Center Leg.

The I-66 K Street Tunnel with Center Leg and North Leg East at right.

Center Leg with curved connection to North Leg East

1966 North Central Freeway Supplementary Study

(See the links at the bottom for further study)

1966 North Central Freeway Supplementary Study
B&O Route

The overwhelming public opposition to the 1964 and 1965 plans lead to a supplementary study for the I-70S/I-95 North Central Freeway, which would explore a variety of options for a B&O Route project running close, if not directly hugging the existing railroad (eliminating the separate swath through Takoma Park, Maryland, and avoiding Turkey Thickett neighborhood and Brooks Mansion, with 6 lanes for the I-70S, and 8 lanes for the I-95 sections) :

  • (1) High-Level option: Elevated freeway over or immediately adjacent to existing Railroad, permitting lower lying commercial and industrial buildings to remain in place under the facility.
  • (2) Low-Level option: Freeway generally at or below the Railway, located immediately adjacent to the Railroad. .
  • (3) Freeway below the Railroad grade, with the Railroad and transit facilities supported on a structure over the Freeway.
  • (4) Freeway approximating the existing Railroad alignment and grade, with the Railroad and transit constructed beneath the Project.

Low Level Recommendation:

This supplementary study report, published in November 1966, would recommend its "B&O Route low level" built generally 5 feet above the existing rail grade and lower, with short tunneled sections in the tighter areas, notably Montgomery Community College, and depressed in western Brookland, though not in Takoma, D.C. where it would have been 5 feet above rail level in a widening of the existing elevated railroad berm first created in 1912 with the initial grade separation project at Cedar and Carol Avenues.

This plan relocated the proposed I-495/I-70S connection some 3/4 mile to the west of Georgia Avenue, with inside the Beltway I-70S starting with a to and-from the west only ramp connection with the I-495 Capital Beltway, with 2 lanes in each direction hugging the railroad's west side, including a 390 foot covered segment through existing parking lots, before entering a 700 foot long tunnel transitioning highway to other (east) side of railroad, and a confluence at 16th Street with a reduced footprint spur (abandoning the separate 450 foot wide swath of the 1964 plan) to connect with the previously planned Northern Parkway.

Continuing to the south with 6 lanes (3 per direction), I-70S would have 6 lanes total (3 per direction), overpassing Colesville Road, and under-passing Georgia Avenue (abandoning the 1964 plan's for a high viaduct crossing), before a set of tunnels alongside Montgomery Community College, with the southbound lanes transitioning to the railroad's west side directly beneath the tennis courts at Blair Park (here abandoning the 1964 plan's deviations through Takoma Park, Maryland), with each direction of highway hugging each side of the railroad southward along Takoma Park's northwestern edge alongside a re-located Takoma Avenue (taking the Victorian houses facing the railroad, though avoiding the landmark Cady-Lee Mansion, at 7064 Eastern Avenue, a landmark-gateway as the northernmost house in DC east of the railroad) rising approximately 6 feet above the existing railroad elevation, overpassing Piney Branch Boulevard, Cedar and Aspen Streets tightly alongside the existing rail berm in Takoma, D.C., including the area of the Takoma Station of the Metro Rail Red Line. South of Van Burean Street, the northbound lanes would transition west of the railroad via a 1300 foot tunnel, hence with both directions west parallel of the railroad, overpass Kansas Avenue, underpass New Hampshire Avenue, and overpass Riggs Road, before a confluence at Fort Totten with the 8 lane I-95 Northeast Freeway.

As planned since 1960, the I-95 Northeast Freeway was to extend I-95 inside the I-495 Capital Beltway in western Prince Georges County, Maryland through a corridor designated through Northwest Branch Park, to the MD/DC line near Gallatin Street NE, with the D.C. portion, as planned since 1964, routed between Gallatin and Galloway Streets via the "Fort Drive" route previously reserved for the circumferential Fort Drive Parkway, (abandoning the previous -- 1960 -- route through Catholic Sisters). The 1966 plans handled the confluence of 6 lane I-70S and 8 lane I-95 with l lane per direction routed to and from a future tunnel connection to North Capital Street for I-95, and an additional 1 lane per direction for roughly 2/3 a mile southwards of this confluence to the vicinity of Michigan Avenue, as the I-95 North Central Freeway. A pair of 950 foot long tunnelways just south of the trash incinerator and alongside a relocated Brookland and Puerto Rico Avenues would transition the I-95 NCF to run immediately east parallel to the railroad. There, along the western edge of Brookland, it would underpass Taylor Street NE, running via industrial properties described as "eyesores" by a 1965 leaflet protesting the 1964 plans and completely avoiding Turkey Thickett neighborhood; further south it would underpass Michigan and Monroe Avenues, running via what became the bus depot area of the Brookland/CUA Station of the Metro Rail Red Line, and avoid the historic 1837 Brooks Mansion (in sharp contrast to the 1964 plans). To the south of Monroe Street NE, where the railroad begins to both widen and arc to the southwest, this 1966 "B&O" Route I-95 North Central Freeway would continue in a more southerly direction, hence running less close to the railroad just west of 10th Street, sparing 3 blocks southwards to Jackson Street NE (that were to be taken by the 1964 plans, but taking 69 houses along 9th Street NE, and west side of 10th NE southwards of Jackson Street NE, just north of running through industrial areas, and overpassing Rhode Island Avenue NE. But a relatively small percentage of the DC homes required to be demolished for completing D.C. I-95 as then planned, which included the I-95 North Leg and Center Leg.

In addition to the routing and design changes, the 1966 plan would eliminate the reversible median roadway, as well as eliminate southbound to northbound ramp connections between I-70S and I-95. It would include provisions for Metro Rail, for what became the Red and Green lines.

Fast Facts:

  • 7.71 miles (4.33 D.C.; 3.38 MD)
  • $193,574,000 ($116,242,000 D.C.; $77,332,000 MD)
  • 4 lanes from I-495 to 16th Street
  • 6 lanes 16th Street to Fort Totten
  • 8 lanes Fort Totten to RI Avenue
  • Design Speed: 50 mph DC, 70 mph MD
  • Max. Horizontal Curv. 7-30' DC, 3-30'MD
  • Max. Grade: 4%
  • Min. vert. clearance: 14'-6" DC, 16'-4" MD

Gross Displacement (D.C./MD):

  • Dwelling Units 535 (372/163)
  • Population 1,738 (1,250/488)
  • Business 159 (89/70)
  • Employees 5,550 (4,000/1,150)
  • Initial Property Tax Base Loss: $14,480,000 ($8,943,000/$5,537,000)
  • Est. Initial Property Tax Revenue Loss: $443,500 ($241,400/$202,100)

1966 B&O Route Low Level North Central Freeway


The 1966 B&O route I-70S North Central Freeway was to have started at the I-495 Capital Beltway in site of today's Mormon Temple with a set of 1 lane ramps connecting with I-495 to and from the west only, located immediately north/west of the existing railroad bridge that crosses I-495 between the Linden Lane and Seminary Avenue bridges. Approximately 800 feet south of I-495, these ramps would have converged upon a common alignment immediately adjacent to the west side of the B&O railroad with 2 lanes per direction in a bifurcated arrangement with the highway at a lower elevation than the railroad, where the southbound lanes would have entered a 500 foot long covered/cut and cover tunnel segment through the loading dock areas of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, just to the north of the Linden Lane bridge which crosses this railroad/proposed highway corridor.

This portion of the 1966 B&O Route Freeway would have continued southerly, directly along the B&O railroad's western side for approximately another 1900 feet before entering a second tunnel segment, roughly 900 feet long, to carry both directions of highway beneath the railroad to its eastern side, with this tunnel's southern portal approximately 700 feet south of Brookville Road. It would continue in a southerly direction immediately alongside the railroad's eastern side for approximately 1000 feet as an open depressed highway, and then another 750 feet that would have had a proposed Lyttonsville Road connection built directly atop its northbound lanes (directly east of a proposed Transit center for Metro Rail), and then another 1100 feet to 16th Street. There, the freeway was to merge with a freeway connection depressed and routed along 16th Street, between the east side of its existing southbound lanes and its relocated northbound lanes. This spur was to continue via the 16th Street corridor to cross beneath Georgia Avenue immediately to the south of Luzerne Drive, to feed into the proposed Northern Parkway, which would have run via Sligo Creek Park beneath the I-495 Capital Beltway and northwards towards Olney.

"Highway Structure Over Depressed Freeway" : Vertically Bifurcated: 4 lane segment, Silver Spring, Md.

South of the merge with the 16th Street spur to the Northern Parkway, this 4 lane I-70S North Central Freeway picked up 1 additional lane in each direction, and continue with 3 lanes in each direction along the B&O railroad's east side, crossing beneath an overpass for Spring Street, before crossing over Colesville Road (and continuing through the site of today's Silver Spring Metro bus depot), before entering a 460 foot long tunnel to cross beneath Georgia Avenue, with the alignment shifting just far enough away from the B&O to clear the northern approach to the Georgia Avenue underpass (dedicated in 1948). Roughly 1300 feet further along, the southbound lanes were to have entered a roughly 500 foot long tunnel to cross under the B&O railroad to again run along its western side to transition to a brief (roughly 350 foot long) depressed segment, before entering a 700 plus foot long tunnel beneath the Blair Park tennis courts, with its southern portal about 100 north of the Juniper Street bridge (now defunct).

"Depressed Freeway Showing Wall Design and Tunnel Portal" : 6 lane segment, Silver Spring, Md.

Meanwhile, the northbound lanes were to run in a parallel 700 plus foot long tunnel located immediately east of the B&O railroad, just west of Montgomery Community College, between Chicago Avenue and the Juniper Street Bridge. With its 3 southbound and 3 northbound lanes respectively flanking each side of the B&O railroad, the 1966 B&O Route North Central Freeway would have continued briefly past these tunnels at a grade lower than the railroad before rising above the railroad in the vicinity of Takoma and Buffalo Avenues, just before entering Washington, D.C. Within the District, it would have overpassed Piney Branch Avenue, Cedar, Aspen, Whittier, and Van Burean Streets, as essentially a wider version of the existing railroad berm. Immediately south of Van Burean Street, the northbound lanes would have descended into a 1300 plus foot long tunnel to bring the northbound lanes to railroad's west side, where both directions would have continued south, passing over Kansas Avenue and beneath New Hampshire Avenue. Approximately 600 feet north of Riggs Road, the 1966 B&O Route North Central Freeway would have begin to swing away (westerly) from the railroad, crossing beneath Riggs Road roughly 300 feet west of the railroad, and then beneath a new footbridge roughly 600 feet west of the railroad, before turning back towards the railroad at Fort Totten: the location of the I-70S North Central Freeway's merge with the I-95 Northeast Freeway.

"Potential Industrial Development in Railroad Corridor"

As per the 1964 plan (Route #11 "Railroad East-Sligo), this 1966 plan had the Washington, D.C. Portion of the I-95 Northeast Freeway alignment via the Fort Drive Route, located between Galloway and Gallatin Streets NE, entering the District from a Maryland routing via Northwest Branch Park in western Prince Georges County. Both the Maryland and District portions of the I-95 Northeast Freeway were to have 4 lanes in each direction, and have entered the District in a depressed below grade configuration crossing beneath South Dakota Avenue, with the proposed Metro Rail Green line located in its median. Immediately west of South Dakota Avenue, these plans had I-95 transitioning from 8 to 6 lanes, with 1 lane in each direction extending to and from a North Capital Street Future Connection to I-95, built via bored tunnels beneath Fort Totten Park. The 6 lanes of I-95 were to have turned southerly to join the North Central Freeway alignment, with the southbound I-95 lanes in a approximately 600 foot long tunnel, emerging to immediately parallel the I-70S lanes, crossing beneath a 300 foot long deck next to the incinerator, and merging together approximately 1500 feet to the south, 400 feet before entering a 1000 foot long tunnel bringing the southbound lanes to the railroad's east side. A separate 1000 foot long tunnel, with its northern portal approximately 100 feet north of the southbound I-70S/I-95 merge), transitioning the northbound lanes from the railroad's west side at Fort Totten, to its east side southwards between the railroad and a relocated Puerto Rico Avenue, and crossing with the railroad beneath Taylor Street, towards the west Brookland/Catholic University of America area. With 6 lanes of I-70S and 6 lanes from I-95 merging together into what was to be known as the I-95 North Central Freeway, this tunneled segment would have carried 5 or more lanes in each direction, with a lane drop to 4 lanes in each direction at an off ramp to Michigan Avenue. Unlike the 1964 plan, the 1966 plan completely avoided the Turkey Thicket neighborhood along 7th and Quincy Streets and Perry Place by running directly along the industrial properties between the railroad and Turkey Thicket, and crossing beneath bridges carrying Michigan Avenue (where the alignment began to shift easterly away from the railroad) and Monroe Streets over the railroad and proposed highway, through what became the vast paved areas of the Brookland/CUA Metro Rail bus stop. Unlike the 1964 plan, the 1966 plan ran closer to the railroad's east side, completely avoiding historic Brooks Mansion (built in 1837), while confining itself to the area of 9th Street, southwards to Jackson Street, where it began to veer away from the railroad by continuing more due south where the railroad itself begins arcing to the southwest. South of Jackson Street and north of Franklin Street, where the highway had begun to veer away from the railroad, the North Central Freeway right of way would grow from roughly 200 to 400 feet for a set of on and off ramps to 10th Street NE at Girard and Irving Streets, hence taking all of the houses lining the west side of 10th Street NE, south of Jackson Street, taking no 10th Street houses to the north of Jackson Street, for a total of 69 homes at the western edge of Brookland. At Girard Street, this right of way transitioned from residential to industrial properties, crossing beneath an overpass for Franklin Avenue with a centerline roughly 400 feet east of that of the railroad beneath its own, separate Franklin Avenue overpass structure. It would have continued south of Franklin Street for approximately 1000 feet before crossing over Rhode Island Avenue, immediately west of 10th Street NE, to the North Central's Freeway's southern terminus at Interchange C, located at the confluence of Washington, D.C.'s 2 major railroad corridors.

As planned in accordance with the 1966 B&O Route, Interchange C was to connect the I-95 North Central Freeway directly with the I-95 North Leg and the I-259 East Leg portions of Washington, D.C.'s own Inner Loop Freeway network, with I-95 continuing south via the I-95 North Leg, bringing I-95 to the I-95 Center Leg/Mall Tunnel Facility. Although this 1966 supplementary study plan for the North Central Freeway failed to suggest alternatives for the 1964 plans for the I-95 North Leg, by incorporating the routing along residential R Street for the I-95 North Leg's northern east west portion, and much of its routing along 3rd Street and New Jersey Avenues for its southern, north-south running portion, it would pioneer the incorporation of the community derived alternative plan of an I-66 K Street Tunnel, as a replacement for the originally planned (and highly unpopular) Florida Avenue/ U Street routing for a 6-8 lane open depressed freeway paralleling the south side of these roads. Of these roads, the only portions of D.C. I-95 that would be built was the Center Leg south of Massachusetts Avenue was built with its originally intended 6-8 lane cross-section width between 1966 and 1973, along with the I-95 Southwest Freeway, before leaving the District via that complex of bridges collectively and colloquially known as the "14th Street Bridge".

Of this Inner Loop Freeway network which included the Center Leg and the Southwest Freeway, the only other portions that would be built during the 1900s were the Southeast Freeway to Pennsylvania Avenue SE, the I-66 West Leg to K Street, and Center Leg to Massachusetts Avenue NW, with a 1600 foot extension to a terminus directly upon New York Avenue with only 2 lane in each direction, completed in 1982.

Like the 1964 study, the 1966 study made suggestions for building what was called "air rights" development atop portions of the North Central Freeway. Three tentative sites within Washington, D.C. were examined, with a forth identified, for air rights relocation housing:

Between Taylor Street and Michigan Avenue immediately next to proposed Taylor Street Transit Station
Between Rhode Island Avenue and Taylor Street proposed Transit Stations
At proposed New Hampshire Avenue Transit Station
North of Piney Branch Road, to the west of the freeway/railway, near the proposed Takoma Transit Station
Most effort would be directed towards the the Taylor Street-Michigan Avenue area at the western edge of Brookland.

Cut and cover tunnels alongside Blair Park

Under this plan I-70S enters near D.C. through a set of cut and cover tunnels compatible with Montgomery Community College and preserving Blair Park, transitioning to a configuration to flank the railroad (rather then having it all to the east) to reduce the conflicts.

3 lanes hugging each side of the B&O railroad in Takoma, D.C.

Interchange at New Hampshire Avenue

Retains the Fort Drive alignment for the I-95 Northeast Freeway from Maryland via Northwest Branch Park; but it realigns the North Central Freeway to the west, increasing its impacts on Fort Totten Park- hence creating a new objection.

1964 North Central Freeway at Brookland-Catholic University of America

Entirely to the east of the railroad further south in Brookland, it avoided Turkey Thicket and Brooks Mansion, reducing the number of dwellings for the I-95 portion of the North Central Freeway to 69 houses (1910-20s vintage).

The 1966 supplementary study included the future addition of constructing a lid atop the depressed portion alongside Brookland, to make it a cut and cover tunnel.

Residences displaced DC/MD

1964 720/590

1966 372/163

These numbers do not include the I-95 segment along Northwest Branch Park in Maryland.

The I-95 portion in D.C. from Fort Totten to the east would have taken 0 residences because it would have utilized the existing Fort Drive right of way previously reserved for the Intermediate Beltway Fort Drive

The I-95 portion of the North Central Freeway along the B&O railroad south of Fort Totten would have taken 69 houses at the western edge of Brookland, all south of Monroe Street and west of 10th Street NE, sparing Brooks Mansion to the north.

1966 North Central Freeway

Supplementary Engineering Feasibility Report

B&O Route Low Level B&O Route High Level
Washington, D.C.

Length 4.33 miles 4.33 miles

6 lanes from Maryland;

8 lanes south of the convergence of I-70S and I-95 at Fort Totten

6 lanes from Maryland;

8 lanes south of the convergence of I-70S and I-95 at Fort Totten

ROW Costs $39,700,000
Construction Costs $66,558,000
Total Above Costs $116,242,000
Residences taken 372 roughly the same
Population displaced 1,250
Business locations taken 89 fewer businesses taken
Employment Displacement 4,000
Initial Property Tax Base Loss $8,943,000
Estimated Initial Property Tax Revenue Loss $242,400


Length 3.38 miles 3.38 miles

4 lanes from Beltway southwards to 16th Street;

6 lanes from 16th Street southwards to MD/D.C line.

4 lanes from Beltway southwards to 16th Street;

6 lanes from 16th Street southwards to MD/D.C line.

ROW costs $18,800,000
Construction Costs $50,897,000
Total Above Costs $77,332,000
Residences taken 163
Population displaced 488
Business locations taken 70
Employment Displacement 1,150
Initial Property Tax Base Loss $5,537,000
Estimated Initial Property Tax Revenue Loss $202,100

Full Route, Capital Beltway to Interchange "C"

Length 7.71 miles
ROW Costs $58,500,000
Construction Costs $117,455,000
Total Above Costs $193,574,000
Residences Taken 535
Population displaced 1,738
Business Locations Taken 159
Employment Displacement 5,550
Initial Property Tax Base Loss $14,480,000
Estimated Initial Property Tax Revenue Loss $443,500

1. Design Speed Desired

Attained with 1966

I-70S/I-95 North Central Freeway

A. Freeway 50 mph 50 mph in D.C./70 mph in Maryland
B. Ramps 25 mph 25 mph
2. Alignment

A. Horizontal Curvature

(1) Freeway (minimum) 3 degrees 7 -30'/3 -30' degrees
(2) Ramps (minimum radius) 150 feet
B. Vertical

(1) Freeway (Maximum Grade) 3% 4.0%
(Minimum Grade) 0.5%
(2) Ramps (Maximum Grade) 6%
(Minimum Grade) 0.5%
C. Sight Distance

Freeway (Minimum Stopping Distance) 350 feet 440 feet
3. Roadway and Median Width

A. Freeway

(1) Lane width 12 feet 12 feet
(2) Median width 7 feet min. 7 feet
(3) Paved Outside Shoulder 10 feet 10 feet

B. Ramps (as proposed by A.A.S.H.O. design policy)

4. Structures

A. Design Loads + H2) - S16 (44) including military requirement of the Interstate System

B. Minimum Vertical Clearances

(1) All Freeway Structures
14 1/2 feet in D.C./14 1/2 feet in Maryland
(2) Over Electric Railroads
26 feet
(3) Over other Railroads
23 feet

Official Indecisiveness to commit to 1966 plan

Nonetheless, a combination of indecisiveness amongst government officials, opposition to the earlier more destructive highway plans, as well as the idea of building highways elsewhere in D.C., following the 1960 cancellation of the Northwest Freeway, and highly effective protests organized by those opposed to any highways in favor of a strict transfer of construction funds towards speeding the completion of the Metro Rail WMATA network. While the 1966 B&O low level route was published that November, authorities stoked the flames of opposition by failing to commit to the newer plan, by suggesting that the 1964 Route #11 "Railroad East-Sligo" or even the 1964 alternative plans could be selected instead for a variety of reasons. A letter to Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew, from Takoma Park resident Duncan Wall, dated June 1, 1967:

Citizens of Takoma Park and Silver Spring had reason for their demonstrations of bitter dissatisfaction with the highway authorities of your predecessor's administration. After we had been given reason to believe that the causes of our protests had been in at least some part overcome, the matter now threatens to break into renewed bitterness. I am sure you will wish to avoid this as much as many of us.

We showed that the methods of traffic projections which were claimed tojustify the North Central were fallacious, the results in error by as much as 400 percent. Our contention was tacitly admitted in "re-studied" versions of the proposal made public last year, sharply reducing the original plan of 5 lanes each way.

The re-studied proposal also tacitly admitted that the route first proposed was needlessly, even carelessly if not ruthlessly, destructive of our communities. The new version hugged both sides of the existing Baltimore and Ohio railway, thus avoiding a new swath of destruction to divide our communities and sharply reducing the number of homes to be taken.

The reduced, re-routed proposal was made public last year with endorsement of D.C. And Maryland highway authorities. The D.C. Portion was forced through the National Capital Planning Commission by votes of representatives of the D.C. Highway Department and of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. From this we concluded, reasonably enough, that the highway authorities of the two jurisdiction cons (Maryland and D.C.) had reached a firm understanding with the Bureau of Public Roads.

Many of us were therefore astonished and aroused to preparations for renewed protests when Washington newspapers recently reported that the Bureau has acted to open it all up again. We have not found the Bureau forthcoming with candid information, but the press articles intimate an intention to force Maryland to accept modifications of route or design ostensibly "cheaper."

The result is that the whole controversy, which had been somewhat quiescent, is beginning to agitate the communities again. I can assure you this is so, for although I recently resigned chairmanship of the Metropolitan Citizens Council for Rapid Transit and write this simply as an individual citizen who wishes your administration well, I do remain in close touch with neighborhood sentiment on transportation-related issues.

As Governor of our State, you are in position better than we as private citizens to require straightforward answers from the Bureau of Public Roads.

You can also insure that the Maryland State Roads Commission refuses to go along with divisive proposals which these communities will regard as cause for new protests.

You can make yourself even better appreciated here by doing both, and by supporting the earliest and most extensive development of rail rapid transit. Will you do so?

Further Study:

1963-64 North Central Freeway Study

1963-64 North Central Freeway Study Report Plates

1971 Study

1971-73 PEPCO-B&O I-95

1964 North Central Freeway Routing Mystery

1962 JFK Administration Plan

The Original 1959 Washington, D.C. Northern Radials

Be sure to explore the tags, Highway Routing Mysteries, North Central Freeway and Grand Arc Mall Tunnel and others ...