Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Alexandria Chop Job on Urban Deck: Promote a good idea and the authorities follow by going in reverse!

I promoted applying a good idea to Alexandria, that of lengthening the proposed deck.

And the authorities follow by going backwards by reducing the deck.

At a May 1999 SSP meeting, I saw officials flash drawings indicating reductions in the length of the Washington Street Urban Deck to the west in response to a stakeholder consensus to drop the previously planned westward relocation of the Church Street exit from the westbound Beltway westward.

Since this ramp was to be just west of the proposed deck’s western portal, keeping the ramp to the east provided an opportunity to take 44,000 square feet of western-most proposed deck while avoiding a need for either a cantilever or a vertical tunnel support just past this exit.

I say “flash” because the meeting spent the most amount of time discussing the ramp location, with the shortening of the deck only being revealed with the illustrations shown briefly towards the end of this meeting, but treated as an after-thought at best, with no discussion about this deck reduction.

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project’s December 22, 1999 DEIS, and its April 14, 2000 FEIS presented a subsequent reduction to the east of Washington Street with a reduction of 50%. No stakeholder panel was ever convened about this reduction itself. These two reductions together would reduce the deck’s total length by roughly 1/3rd, from 1,100 to 700 feet.

It was AFTER the Environmental Impact Statement process ended that officials began publicly showing illustrations of an even shorter urban deck, reduced roughly 2/3rds from 700 feet to 200 feet!

Interestingly these reduction in the urban deck pretty much marked the 14 month hiatus when the Woodrow Wilson Bridge authorities scheduled NO meetings of the SSP on the Route 1 interchange and Washington Street Urban Deck.

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