Tuesday, May 22, 2007

1971 North Central Freeway Routing Mystery

Accordingly, people in Takoma Park opposed the North Central Freeway, even with the B&O railroad route as proposed in November 1962, because it would displace a row of houses.

Indeed, this was so with both the 1966 and 1971 B&O route North Central Freeway proposals. Although the 1966 plan included a set of 3 lane tunnels alongside the railroad further to the north at the vicinity of Montgomery Community College and Blair Park, it transitions to an open depressed and then elevated along the elevated portion of the railroad where the topography falls back in the Takoma Station area, with 3 lanes on each side of the railroad. This avoids the Cady Lee Mansion, but it relocates Takoma Avenue displacing the adjoining Victorian houses. The 1971 plan replaces this with a 6 lane tunnel on the railroad's east side; this displaces the Cady Lee Mansion, with the open trench portion to the north relocating Takoma Avenue and displacing those houses.

A design with 3 or even 4 lanes on each side of the railroad as cut and cover tunnels would have preserved all of these houses, with Takoma Avenue reconstructed in its existing location atop the northbound cut and cover tunnel.

Why then was not such a plan ever drawn up?

1966 North Central Freeway Routing Mystery

Why does the 1966 plan adopt an alignment with greater parkland impacts at Fort Totten then the 1964 plan?

1964 plan which follows the railroad at Fort Totten

1966 plan which veers to the west at Fort Totten

Why add an objection that was lacking in the earlier plan?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

B&O "Y" Route Convergence Critique

1966 B&O Route Low Level I-70S-I-95 "Y" route

It was under capacity: committing the cardinal sin regarding the number of lanes, with a lesser number fed by a greater number.

A 6 lane upper left I-70S, and an 8 lane upper right I-95, should converge into 14 lanes, not the mere 12 of the 1966 design (with a questionable 1 lane drop for I-95 at its ramp connections towards North Capitol Street), that would quickly funnel into 10.

I-70S-I-95 convergence
1966 B&O Route Low Level

This set of design defects was shared by the 1964 plan, which also fed more lanes into fewer. The 1964 plan had 6 lanes apiece from the 8 lane main roadways of I-70S and I-95 converge into 12 lanes quickly narrowing to only 10 (plus the 2 lane reversible median roadway that had not been planned with connections to the I-95 Northeast Freeway), with both I-95 and I-70S having a 1 lane drop and pickup, the former for the North Capital connections, the latter with “round the corner” connections between both highways to exchange their southbound to northbound traffic, e.g. southbound I-95 to northbound I-70S and southbound I-70S to northbound I-95: a connection that.

Provided that traffic patterns would allow the lane drops, the combined 6 or 8 +2 I-70S and 6 or 8 I-95, would ideally require the sum of these numbers: 14 to 18 lanes.

As per the 1964 design with its 2 lane median roadway for I-70S (but not I-95), this would translate to a 6/2/6 or 8/2/8 cross section, or perhaps a duel barrel design, with a 4/4/2/4/4 configuration.

To accommodate this number of lanes, the existing 6-8 lane Center Leg would require the addition of an 8 lane East Leg, plus parallel cut and cover tunnels beneath 2nd and 3rd Streets NW/SW along the Center Leg, connected to a new preferably underground SW/SE Freeway with additional capacity for the SW Freeway, and to a new South Capitol Street corridor tunnel.

I-70S-I-95 convergence
1964 Route #11 (Railroad East-Sligo)

Combined with the respective inside the Beltway I-70S and I-95 interchanges with Maryland Route 410 would provide a useful bypass of normally 4 lane 410’s 2 lane bottleneck through Takoma Park. However the latter plans delete this feature.

It would have been interesting to see consideration of greater capacity, with a design capable of as much as 24 lanes, and with separate express carriageways, encased in a multi-cell cut and cover tunnel. Curiously, such a design was not drawn up, despite the utility of the cut and cover segments, particularly if such would bury and stack the express carriageways.

Such a cut and cover tunnel would accomplish and reconcile greater human activity within the existing footprint.

It would cost very little money compared to the various war budgets, and would serve the idea of greater evacuation route capacity that some within the government gave lip service to after 911.

Friday, May 11, 2007

1966 B and O Route Design Persuit

This railroad “Y” Route concept for the Washington, D.C. North Central Freeway, recommended by the November 1, 1962 “Recommendations for Transportation in the National Capital Region: A Report to the President for transmittal to Congress” by the National Capital Transportation Agency, under U.S. President John F. Kennedy, only become the object of the supplementary (the 2nd) North Central Freeway engineering feasibility in late 1966. That 1966 Supplementary Study explored four variations of this B/O “Y” route concept:

· (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.

Options 1 and 2 would preserve the existing railroad, while options 3 and 4 would remove and replace it.

It recommended option #2: a “low level” route alongside the existing railroad.

It deleted the reversible median roadway that was a feature of the 1964 North Central Freeway plan (but not its connecting I-95 Northeast Freeway), and that for Virginia’s I-95 (I-395) Shirley Highway.

It was further recommended that the depressed portion in Brookland near Catholic University of America be covered (with what’s been called a lid, cap, or deck), effectively making that segment a cut and cover tunnel, with the space atop devoted to new housing and park and recreation space. It includes an illustration showing such a highway cover extending from the north end of the main Catholic University of America campus, southwards of the Brookland/CUA train station.

Such a cut and cover tunnel would additionally shield the area from noise and pollution.

Monday, May 07, 2007

1964 North Central Freeway Routing Mystery

JFK 1962 Plan

1963-1964 Study

Why would the 1964 North Central Freeway Engineering Feasibility Report not adhere to the 1962 Kennedy Administration B&O "Y" Route, particularly by veering away from the B&O railroad on a longer less direct route on a new swath displacing 471 houses in Takoma Park, Maryland?

This report starts with this letter, dated October 30, 1964, by E.J. Donnelly of J.E. Greiner Company Consulting Engineers, to Thomas F. Aires, Director of the Department of Highways and Traffic of the Government of he District of Columbia, and John B. Funk, State Roads Commission of Maryland.
In accordance with the terms of the District of Columbia Formal Agreement No. 2224, we submit herewith our Engineering Feasibility Report on the proposed North Central Freeway.

The Report resents the studies and investigations, data, conclusions and recommendations developed in selecting a route for the Freeway, and it includes drawings which illustrate the features of the proposed facility and delineate the various routes studied for the Project.

We have recommended as the route for the North-Central Freeway the alignment identified in the Report as Route 11 and described as the Railroad-East, Sligo Route. The recommended location lies east if and generally parallel to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Rhode Island Avenue northward and northwestward to Silver Spring. North of Silver Spring, it enters Sligo Park and traverses the west side of the park to University Boulevard, where the studies for the Project terminate.

We appreciate the cooperation that has been accorded us by the members of your staffs, the staffs of the District of Columbia and the Maryland Divisions of the Bureau of Public Roads and the staffs of the departments and agencies in the District of Columbia and Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties who have made data available to us for use in preparation of this report.
From the North Central Freeway Engineering Feasibility Report
at page 5


A basic operation in the procedure established for the Feasibility Report is the determination of all practical route locations for the Freeway within the delineated Corridor. Map studies, examinations of aerial photography taken in the spring of 1963, field reconnaissances of the entire area, and a review of recent highway engineering and transportation reports pertinent to the Washington Metropolitan area all aided in the selection of the feasible route locations. Sufficient information regarding public and private utilities was secured from the municipal departments, agencies and utility companies to locate the major installations which might affect the location of the Freeway.

During this preliminary study phase, the Consultant called upon the representatives of the departments and agencies responsible for overall planning, location and design of highways and planning of transportation facilities. Among such agencies were the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the National Capital Regional Planning Council, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Capital Transportation Agency.

In all, approximately thirty-five study lines segments and line segment connectors were selected as feasible locations for preliminary analysis. These were then re-examined in the field and analyzed in sufficient detail to determine which deserved further study and which warranted no further consideration. The factors used in the comparative analyses of these preliminary study lines included, as they were applicable: conformity to traffic desires; lengths and geometrics; locations for interchanging with other major arterial routes, either existing or planned; relationships to urban renewal planning or development; relationship to the central business districts and the surrounding area; impacts of the facility on the surrounding area; effects on landmarks and significant buildings; the number of families displaced and the quality of housing affected; the effect of industrial takings as opposed to residential takings; conformity to neutral or established dividing lines; and the magnitude of utility interference. The study lines are shown on Plate V of this report.

In order to avoid conflict with such important private and public service institutions as the Washington Medical Center, Veterans’ Hospital, U.S. Soldier’s Home and similar facilities in the central area of the Corridor, the preliminary study lines within the District were concentrated mainly in corridors between 14th and 5th Streets NW, between Kansas and New Hampshire Avenue, NW, and adjacent to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In Maryland, where such a concentration of such facilities does not exist, the alignments were widespread to explore all possibilities within the Corridor.

Route #11 at New Hampshire Avenue, veering away from the B&O railroad into Takoma Park

At page 14 it gives this description of the segment in the illustration above:

From New Hampshire Avenue, the line extends between the Masonic and Eastern Star Home and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and veers to the right at Kansas Avenue so as to follow a generally northerly direction parallel and east of North Capitol Street to the District of Columbia-Maryland Line. South of and before passing over Kansas Avenue, the line would affect several light industries and building material suppliers as well as well as individual and row dwellings of fair quality. North of Kansas Avenue, the line traverses a predominantly residential area immediately east of North Capitol Street which consists of duplex homes of fairly good quality. The western half of a large neighborhood playground and recreational area would also be taken. The residential area, which would be largely separated from the neighborhood it serves, could be retained and access restored.

I can not find any explanation in this report for this deviation from the B&O railroad corridor. Curiously "all possibilities within the Corridor" do NOT include the 1962 Kennedy Administration B&O route plan.

But the effect would be to tremendously inflame local North Central Freeway opposition.

Sam Abbott 1964

It took the subsequent 1966 study to present thing akin to the 1962 Kennedy Administration plan.

Friday, May 04, 2007

B&O Route North Central - NE Freeway: The Shifting Political Sands

1962 Kennedy Administration plan

The B&O "Y" Route concept initially enjoyed significant political support, and an apparent lack of any broad opposition upon its suggestion by the Kennedy Administration in 1962

The Committee of 100 on the Federal City supported it, with the added provisions that it consist of a pair of 4 lane freeways feeding into an 8 lane freeway.

1963-64 study: routes considered

Yet the 1964 report deviated sharply from this concept, and would do much to poison local opinion towards building any NCF; it was not until 1966 when a supplementary study was released that closely followed the 1962 concept.

1966 supplementary study: B&O Low Level Route

Both these 1962 and 1966 plans included highway and what became WMATA rail.

By that time (1965-66), significant swaths of people within the Federal government changed their position by 180 degrees. This included the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, which went on record against a B&O Route North Central Freeway, based upon the negative reaction of the 1964 plan with its significant deviations from the railroad.

The 1966 plan lacked these objections, and at that time had the support of the D.C. City Council and the U.S. National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). Yet the B&O Route North Central Freeway (and the East leg of the Inner Loop) was to be challenged by a law suit alleging that the planning for these highways was illegal for lacking DC City Council and USNCPC approval, prior to that being the case! The suit was filed when both of these entities supported the plan.

It was not until 1968 that USNCPC withdrew their support for the North Central - Northeast Freeway, with their erroneous conclusion that the facility would merely add another arterial when in fact it would introduce a super-arterial in a broad area without one.

February 6, 1967: presentation of the new B&O Low Level North Central Freeway plan to NCPC

May 1967: NCPC approves 1st link of North Central Freeway

October 1967: NCPC approves final link of North Central Freeway 8-2

February 1968: law suit decision by U.S. Court of Appeals

February 17, 1970: D.C. City Council votes against North Central Freeway

September 17, 1970: legislation in Congress in the House Public Works Committee ordering North Central Freeway construction.

April 9, 1972: Maryland drops I-70S

February 1973: Maryland drops I-95 by the Northwest Branch Park corridor.

July 16, 1973: Maryland drops I-95 via the PEPCO right of way.

The justification given for this 180 degree turn has been given as avoiding the shifting of the burden from wealthier to poorer areas. According to the unfortunately error-ridden November 2000 article in The Washington Post Magazine it was because Takoma Park's Sam Abbott pulled a guilt trip on Peter Craig by telling him that he only cared about the wealthier people to Rock Creek Park's west

However, such is what occurred by doing just that.

Canceling the B&O route North Central Freeway would translate in one way or another to shift the traffic burden even more disproportionately along the east side of the Anacostia River through Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8, along D.C.’s Route 295 Kenilworth Avenue Freeway: which the Committee of 100 on the Federal City favored placing an even greater share of the burden with a 1968 plan to route inside the Beltway I-95 via the Northwest Branch Park corridor, to route I-95 upon that same Kenilworth Avenue corridor, and then to a new bridge to Virginia to connect to the I-95 (today's I-395) Shirley Highway via a Four Mile Run Expressway.

This blogger is unaware of any advocacy by the Committee of 100 towards mitigating this highway's local impacts by covering it as tunnel.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

1966-71 I-70S Silver Spring

1971 I-95 New Hampshire Avenue - PEPCO

The dotted lines indicate the PEPCO route extension along New Hampshire Avenue, which was offered with the cancellation of the I-70S segment of the B&O Route North Central Freeway, despite the superior geometry for a convergence.

1966-71 I-95 Fort Drive - Northwest Branch Park