Friday, December 01, 2006

The Original Northern Radials

1959 Proposed Network:

3 separate north-south grade separated radial highways

1 new grade separated parkway

Under the 1959 Mass Transportation Plan approved by the National Capital Planning Commission in 1959, Washington, D.C. was to have a trio of 6-8 lane north-south freeways in NW and NE:

The Northwest Freeway roughly paralleling Wisconsin Avenue from the I-495 Capital Beltway, entering D.C. at Friendship Heights, before turning east to cross Rock Creek Park and the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood area to an interchange with the I-66 North Leg West of the Inner Loop at an interchange at 14th and U Streets NW.

The North Central Freeway roughly paralleling Georgia Avenue from the I-495 Capital Beltway to the interchange of the east-west I-66 North Leg West and I-95 North Leg East, and the north-south I-95 Center Leg (today's I-395 3rd Street Tunnel).

The Northeast Freeway through Brookland, on a diagonal route not seen in later studies, and not along the B&O RR as seen in later studies.

The Northwest and Northeast Freeways would have served as the south of (inside) the Beltway extensions of I-70S and I-95, with the North Central (then without an interstate highway designation) connecting to a north of the Beltway extension known as the Northern Parkway.

These three freeways would be accompanied by a George Washington Parkway roughly paralleling Canal Road along the Washington, D.C. side of the Potomac River, and connecting to the existing Whitehurst Freeway.

There would be controversy over the selection of the Northwest Freeway as inside the Beltway I-70S, with those seeking the Northwest Freeway's cancellation, advocating the North Central as inside the Beltway I-70S. That the Northwest Freeway was routed through the more politically affluent far NW D.C. would ensure its relatively early cancellation. That the North Central and Northeast as routed in 1959 would have required removing greater number of residences then the canceled Northwest, would lead to consideration of ways to reduce their local impacts. Indeed, the initial D.C. I-95 Northeast Freeway engineering study (1960) would study a number of different routes, including some through Brookland, and some near Georgia Avenue as already then envisioned for the North Central, with one option for a 4,000+ long drilled tunnel segment (4 tubes with 2 lanes each) beneath Soldiers' Home, before recommending a route towards Brookland's western edge, roughly 2 blocks east paralleling the B&O RR.

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