Friday, March 19, 2010

SW Freeway to Center Leg/Capitol Hill Signage

I wrote in my last article that the placement of EYA 'Capitol Square' townhouse development project, particularly its northernmost row of some 28 houses with their rear walls some 16 or so Linkfeet from the SW Freeway retaining wall stood as mute testimony to the non-planning of the very federal agencies headquartered only a few hundred feet to the north- the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation visible in the above picture.

The following photos from a piece about this area of the SW Freeway from the JDLand site, and the response of 'Froggie' (see further below) serves as yet another example of this non-planning, though with something far easiest to remedy.

JD photo and caption: The first sign, instructing drivers who wish to get off at C Street SW for the US Capitol and House office buildings to get in the second lane from the left (though it's hard to tell which of the left lanes the sign is pointing to). Before the bridge was reconstructed, this sign was placed over the second-right lane, with the 395 sign nudged further to the right, which wasn't absolutely correct either but was closer to being accurate.

JD photo and caption: The second sign, about a quarter-mile later, properly telling drivers to be in what has become the second-right lane but was the right-most lane back at the first sign. If drivers follow these signs, they'll have veered left and then veered right within a quarter-mile.

In a follow up piece, JD writes:

Technically off-topic, but: I've been grumbling for more than seven years now about the poorly placed sign on the SW Freeway for the C Street SW exit, which points drivers to a left-side lane but then requires them to move two lanes to the right within a quarter-mile to get to their ramp, So I finally took some photos to explain the issue and tweeted them to blow off some steam. Soon after, @ajfroggie posted two great images of how to replace the signage along that stretch to fix not only my complaint but some general problems with all of the signs.

I prefer the 2nd option shown here as exit 6 to the northbound Center Leg (3rd Street Tunnel) actually splits, with one lane as the off ramp, and one lane into the northbound Center Leg (yes, the planned D.C. I-95 northbound route necked down to a single through lane).

In the long term, this freeway needs to be entirely reconstructed underground by the most practical way of being dug lower starting in a band along its southern side, allowing the maintaining of traffic during the construction, and allowing the highway to be offset about 20 to 30 feet to the south, mitigating the mistakes of the original design, including its capacity pinch - obstensibly decided simply upon aethestics without regard to the cut and cover tunnel concept nor the fact that all of the buildings allong its southern side where being torn down anyway - while improving its geometry, particularly the connections with the Center Leg/3rd Street Tunnel and the likewise undergrounded SE Freeway. One would supect the existence of a government design process for this project, tethered with a statutory authorization for the protection of the needed adjacent lands for something as important as this; yet in fact there apparantly is not- as with the EYA 'Capitol Square' project, and the South Capitol Street corridor re-development.

But even as the government non-planning of the Washington, D.C. freeways, oh so fashionable amongst its political ruling class, despite extending the life of this highway in its existing form, extends beyond a disregard to the long term, with even the infinitely simpler things to fix as this signage.

If you think the signs are bad deliberately to punish or discourage outsider traffic, just look at the philosophy embodied by such things as the U.S. National Capital Planning Commission's reletively recent 'Charrette' [PDF link] on the New York Avenue corridor attitude towards extending the I-395 tunnel.

That's some planning for the freeways of our nation's Capital.

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