Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pushing I-95 into more of Northwest Branch Park and a useful cross Potomac Bridge and connection to Virginia I-95 and I-66

On November 22, 1968 The Washington Post reported that the private organization, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City had their proposal for routing inside the Beltway I-95.

Like the official planning, it would continue I-95 inside the Beltway in Maryland along the Northwest Branch Park corridor.

Unlike the official plans it would not veer away from the Northwest Branch corridor to enter D.C. via the Fort Drive route; instead it would continue along Northwest Branch for another two miles to cross south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway before turning southwest to connect directly with the Anacostia (Kenilworth Avenue) Freeway.

Under this proposal, the Baltimore Washington Parkway would be extended along the west bank of the Anacostia River to RFK Stadium, with a freeway extension to the SE Freeway at Barney Circle via essentially the southern portion of the planned but un-built East Leg.

It is not said how routing a highway along a wetland plain can even be considered environmentally preferable to an existing power line right of way and a railroad industrial corridor, nor how a diagonal route cut to an existing highway is preferable to a north south route where none exists in the broad area of northern Washington, D.C. The newspaper article does not say if for what distance I-95 would be carried along the Anacostia Freeway, and makes no mention of how this would connect with existing D.C. I-95 (the SW Freeway), such as by not even mentioning adding ramps to the 11th Sreet Bridges.

Neither does the November 15, 1968 "Recommendations of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City Concerning the NCPC Staff Draft, “Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital”."
Connect I-95 with the Capital Beltway. Following the North-west Branch of the Anacostia River Kenilworth Avenue in Prince Georges County, connect I-95 with the Kenilworth Freeway (I-295).

However, the December 3, 1968 testimony by Committee of 100 Chairman Grosvenor Chapman provides a hint:
Between Alexandria and National Airport there would be a new bridge as recommended by the Staff of the National Capital Planning Commission. This bridge would provide from the south an alternative I-95 route inside the Beltway for vehicles having a destination in the District north or south of the Anacostia River.

It would probably require widening of Route 295 north to the Anacostia Bridge as well as distributors to the Anacostia area. On the Virginia side, the new bridge would connect with I-95 and perhaps eventually with I-66 via the Washington and Old Dominion right-of-way. Our study “Potomac Bridges Compared to Traffic Forecast” dated February 24, 1968, which was presented to the City Council at the public hearing last March, shows that this is the only Potomac River crossing within the District of Columbia which can be justified in the year 1990.
This bridge would have to be significantly south of National Airport for flight path concerns. A route for such a bridge appears in early 1950s planning, with a route continuation in Virginia southwesterly along the FR&P railroad corridor in Alexandria, turning west to join what became the Capital Beltway.

The Committee of 100’s 1968 suggestion to use the Washington and Old Dominion right-of-way route along 4 Mile Run would have connected this new bridge to I-95 and I-66, creating a useful trans Washington, D.C. downtown bypass through what would be the lower half of an intermediate loop incorporating a widened Anacostia Freeway instead of the Fort Drive route in DC SE.

I have not been able to find the statistics for the numbers of residential dwelling units this would have displaced, with the bulk being along the 4 Mile Run route in Virginia, owing to Virginia's failure to preserve this corridor from overly close development.

Today, this former railroad corridor carries an electric power line that runs to and along I-66 towards the Dulles Airport Access Road.

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