Friday, May 21, 2010

Inside The Beltway Wisconsin Avenue Grade Separation!

Now being officially proposed:

Would lower a portion of Route 355 Wisconsin Avenue.

How about one for the intersection to the south- perhaps with some urban deck?!

More on that here at Greater, Greater, Washington

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rhode Island Avenue Area Encroachment

New development project encroaches upon B&O Metropolitan Branch 'Grand Arc' Corridor

New project with northernmost (Building 2) and METRO Garage structures definitely encroaching upon corridor right of way.

More on this project here.

About Grand Arc

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Telling Indifference

Freeway cover (otherwise known as lids caps or decks) can block noise and pollution and reclaim land, yet the powers that be would rather push the burden away- as the Washington D.C. area reveals
As a historian of the Washington, D.C. freeway system, having made numerous observations as these, I have found surprisingly little if anything about the position of the two most important holders of property along D.C. I-95's most logical route: Catholic University of American, and the Masonic Eastern Star Order.

In particular I have yet to see anything about their position on the concept of the segments of freeway alongside the RR next to the former's campus, nor directly through the latter's Home property at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue NE, being covered - effectively reclaiming land providing space for various local amenities - while suppressing noise and potentially with emissions, particularly if properly ventilated and filtrated.

1966 Supplementary Study North Central Freeway alongside Catholic University of America

Note how this shows the area alongside the main CUA campus as covered as far north as Taylor Street.

1971 North Central Freeway

Note how this extends the cover further south to Rhode Island Avenue yet deletes the northern segment alongside the main CUA campus. While I have found a reference to the CUA heirarchey being officially neutral about the North Central Freeway itself, I have yet to see any reference to any such position on the cover, and its disappearance in the area alongside the main CUA campus.

1971 Northeastern Freeway PEPCO-B&O Route through the property of the Masonic Eastern Star Home at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue.

1971-1973 I-95 PEPCO Overview

1973 I-95 PEPCO Maryland Report

I have yet to find anything about Masonic Eastern Star, say demanding that this segment be built as a cut and cover tunnel, prior to the cancellation of this 'PEPCO-B&O' route by Maryland, announced in July 1973

Stopping D.C. I-95 had its undeniable spill-over effect upon that segment of the I-495 Capital Beltway where the consequently missing I-95 gap was re-signed onto; that segment includes the Beltway's southern crossing of the Potomac River: the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. During the 1990s planning started upon the project to replace the existing 6 lane bridge with a pair of 6 lane bridges with corresponding wider approaches. As mitigation, this project was to include a cover atop a portion of this I-495 approach in Virginia; this cover or lid or cap was to be known as the Washington Street Urban Deck.

I would though find yet another expression of indifference to highway mitigation within the political halls at Alexandria, Virginia with their 11th hour deletion of most of the Washington Street Urban Deck that had been proposed to cover a 1,100 foot long segment of the I-495 Capital Beltway there.

Alexandria, Virginia Backroom Sell Out

What Others in Alexandria Got From Stealing the Urban Deck

Rubber Stamp U.S. NCPC March 2001

Rubber Stamp U.S. NCPC November 2001

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Stakeholders' Participation Panel on the Route 1 interchange and the Washington Street Urban Deck on August 26, 2000, overwhelmingly REJECTS proposal to shorten the deck

The Alexandria City Council Lies Through Its Teeth- pretends that the August 26, 2000 meeting never occurred

Promote a Good Idea- Alexandria then goes in reverse

The Shrinking Washington Street Urban Deck

My Alexandria Orb Proposal

Alexandria Orb brochure
showing successive shrinkage of the proposed Washington Street Urban Deck


The Alexandria Orb proposal was page one news, December 18, 2000 upon the Alexandria Journal and the Fairfax Journal.

Yet reaction within Alexandria, from my own observations were either of support or a stony silence- the latter tending to include the entire Alexandria City Council.

All of them would simply rubber stamp the deletion of some 80% of the proposed Washington Street Urban Deck, leaving places such as a restored Freedmen's Cemetery directly next to not parkland but instead an exposed 12+ lane segment of I-495: a decision that would be incredibly supported by every single established organization within Alexandria, accepted without any apparent debate, nor discussion, and all accepted unanimously.

AFIAK, publically, neither of the two most important property holders along this route, that of the George Washington Masonic Tower -- Alexandria's tallest buildings festooned with a giant compass and square -- and of St Mary's, immediately next to the I-495 approach to the Wilson Bridge[s] expressed any apparent interest in these decisions.

Nonetheless, all of this without debate, unanimous sort of political behavior may bespeak the dynamics of being yoked via membership into such fraternal entities, such as those found within the vast empire of organized Masonry.

Just shut up and be another jolly good fellow (yes man),
given an overpriced job as reward for loyalty and mediocrity.

George Washington Masonic Memorial,
Alexandria, Virginia's tallest building

1952 proposal in area of Alexandria, Virginia,
with George Washington Masonic Memorial Tower at left

The Significence of the Waffling on the B&O North Central Freeway

The Failure to Commit to the B&O Route North Central Freeway

The negative popular response that subsided with the subsequent supplementary North Central Freeway engineering study released in November 1966 (that essentially followed the 1962 Kennedy plan), would be re-kindled by various officials waffling between the 1966 and 1964 designs, as late as 1968.

That included the supposed highway 'advocacy' of the Federal City Council, with its highly questionable prioritization against delaying highway construction, hence meaning supporting the 1964 plan over the 1966 plan in order to start construction a few months sooner. That amount of time, would be sufficient to reverse the official positions of the U.S. National Capital Planning Commission, and the D.C. City Council.

Letter to Maryland Governor Agnew, 1967 on how waffling on North Central Freeway planning was inciting opposition.

Citizens of Takoma Park and Silver Spring had reason for their demonstrations of bitter dissatisfaction with the highway authorities of your predecessor's administration. After we had been given reason to believe that the causes of our protests had been in at least some part overcome, the matter now threatens to break into renewed bitterness. I am sure you will wish to avoid this as much as many of us.

We showed that the methods of traffic projections which were claimed to justify the North Central were fallacious, the results in error by as much as 400 percent. Our contention was tacitly admitted in "re-studied" versions of the proposal made public last year, sharply reducing the original plan of 5 lanes each way.

The re-studied proposal also tacitly admitted that the route first proposed was needlessly, even carelessly if not ruthlessly, destructive of our communities. The new version hugged both sides of the existing Baltimore and Ohio railway, thus avoiding a new swath of destruction to divide our communities and sharply reducing the number of homes to be taken.

The reduced, re-routed proposal was made public last year with endorsement of D.C. And Maryland highway authorities. The D.C. Portion was forced through the National Capital Planning Commission by votes of representatives of the D.C. Highway Department and of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. From this we concluded, reasonably enough, that the highway authorities of the two jurisdictions (Maryland and D.C.) had reached a firm understanding with the Bureau of Public Roads.

Many of us were therefore astonished and aroused to preparations for renewed protests when Washington newspapers recently reported that the Bureau has acted to open it all up again. We have not found the Bureau forthcoming with candid information, but the press articles intimate an intention to force Maryland to accept modifications of route or design ostensibly "cheaper."

The result is that the whole controversy, which had been somewhat quiescent, is beginning to agitate the communities again. I can assure you this is so, for although I recently resigned chairmanship of the Metropolitan Citizens Council for Rapid Transit and write this simply as an individual citizen who wishes your administration well, I do remain in close touch with neighborhood sentiment on transportation-related issues.

The Fallacy of the Federal City Council's 'Support' for Washington, D.C. Freeways

The Federal City Council’s Questionable ‘Support’ of D.C. Freeways
with 'support' as this, one can see why the highways did not get built!

Prioritizing opposing delays, meaning support for earlier far more destructive plans rather than wait a few months for an alternative plan.

The Federal City Council was founded in 1954, as an organization focused upon the planning of Washington, D.C. , ostensibly as an alternative to the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, Their web site boasts they involve themselves with the biggest projects – a claim juxtaposed with a picture of a statute of a lion, suggesting an indifference to smaller projects – with a mention of their supporting the construction of the WMATA subway system.

Its first major venture was the SW D.C. ‘urban renewal’ plan’ that included the SW Freeway.

Perhaps its most prominent official amongst the MSM is Donald Graham, executive publisher of The Washington Post: the newspaper that lies about the feasibilities of DC freeways, and which infamously did not report on the 1990s Extending the Legacy South Capitol Mall.

LINK- WP Lies About D.C. I-95

LINK- WP continues to Lie- false claim of 200,000 dwellings when it was but 1,065
LINK- Media Non-Reporting NCPC South Capitol Mall

LINK- Media Non-Reporting Abortion of NCPC South Capitol Mall
Given such a performance, Graham’s presence can hardly inspire confidence in the Federal City Council nor any other entity ostensibly devoted to Washington DC planning.

Unmentioned is their past questionable (Hegelian dialectic style) ‘support’ for constructing a fairly comprehensive inside the Beltway-Washington DC freeway system: note how I-95, I-66 and I-295 are truncated.

Such ‘support’ centered upon their opposition to *delaying* highway construction, as it meant going with highly unpopular, infinitely far more invasive highway designs/routings, rather then far more politically and environmentally sensible designs already on the drawing boards, was self defeating.

This was most true with the mystery of the political subversion of John F. Kennedy’s B&O Route North Central Freeway.  It would have gone alongside Catholic University of America (which really did not want it anywhere near them, with CUA strangely silent on proposals to cover the freeway).  And to this day CUA opposes proposals to cover this railroad corridor, evidencing an attitude that they like CUA being isolated from the neighborhoods to the east.

And it was also true with the Federal City Council's opposition to the K Street Tunnel concept for cross-town D.C. I-66, favoring instead the infamous 1955 plans.

From Freeways in the National Capital Region, by the Federal City Council, April 1966
"... The delaying effects of these new questions extend throughout the entire proposed road network."

And to think that this would be more months before the November 1966 publication of the Supplementary North Central Freeway that essentially followed the John F. Kennedy prescription , and also featured the I-66 K Street Tunnel alternative.

The Federal City Council position was remarkably similar to the Little report except for their spin upon their pessimism, with the former decrying delays and the latter decrying the supposed impracticalities, such as the need to as a start further develop the design of the I-66 K Street Tunnel's connections with the other segments.

1960s Washington, D.C. Freeway Planning Hegelian Dialectic

A Highway Program Designed to Fail


The 1964 deviation from the 1962 JFK B&O Route NCF concept- undermining public support for a freeway along the B&O corridor, alongside which the most important property is Catholic University of America, and the subsequent additions of design objections absent with the previous plans.

The mid-late 1960s ‘pro’ highway push from organizations as the 'Federal City Council' that prioritized opposing highway construction delays, hence, meaning support for earlier more impactive unpopular plans.

The mid to late 1960s waffling of various officials as late as 1968 to build the earlier (1964) versions of the North Central Freeway.

The lack of much discussion regarding proposals to cover portions of such proposed roads as the North Central Freeway, or the section of I-95 that would have run through the property of the Masonic Eastern Star Home at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue, for the PEPCO route alternative that only became the official route in Maryland between its July 1973 cancellation, and the February 1973 cancellation of the previous proposed routing via Northwest Branch Park that had been the plan since the late 1950s.

Friday, May 14, 2010

JFK Administration D.C. Freeway System- Other Aspects

A down sized, down scaled highway system

JFK Administration- November 1, 1962

It eliminated the high capacity (8 lane) cross town I-66 North Leg in a new swath alongside Florida Avenue and U Street, replacing said with a 4 lane depressed express street beneath Florida Avenue, ascending to grade at U Street though with depressed underpasses.

It eliminated the high capacity East Leg of the Inner Loop alongside 11th Street NE/SE, effectively replacing it with a spur along Eastern Avenue NE to the I-95 Northeastern Freeway.

It eliminated the Three Sisters Bridge

at page 25:
In the 1959 plan, Three Sisters Bridge was part of an intermediate loop (located between the Capital Beltway and the proposed inner loop) that virtually circled the city. The Agency's studies show no need for the portion of the intermediate loop between the Potomac Rover and The Soldiers Home area. Standing alone, the only purpose of Three Sisters would be to bring trucks and additional auto traffic from Fairfax and Arlington Counties into downtown. For that purpose the bridge is not required.

As of 1957, there were a total of 22 bridge lanes across the Potomac. Projects now under construction, or recently completed, will nearly double the number of lanes, as the following table shows:

The above table does not include the Old Highway Bridge, though the Virginia Department of Highways proposes that the bridge be used with reversible lanes. This would add still another two lanes in each direction for peak traffic.

The Agency proposes two rail rapid transit lines to Virginia, one of which would serve the Three Sisters Bridge corridor. Rapid transit service would not have have been provided in this corridor under the 1959 plan. With such service available, in 1980 a total of over 30,000 people - many of whom would otherwise be using their autos -- would use public transportation from Virginia into the District in the morning peak hour. This is 18,000 more people than use such transportation today, enough to fill 12 bridge lanes. Figure 14 shows the difference in growth of vehicular traffic across the Potomac and compares that with present traffic needs.

The result, as the following table shows, is that under the plan recommended by the Agency, central bridge capacity will be adequate for the needs of motorists in 1980 without Three Sisters Bridge.

This letter of John F. Kennedy illustrates a further evolution of his administration's freeway plans for Washington, D.C.
“…I noted that certain portions of the highway network within the District of Columbia required further study. The guidelines which I believe should be followed in this re-examination are as follows:
The re-examination should focus upon the sections of the highway plans which have from the beginning been the most uncertain and the most controversial- the North Leg of the Inner Loop and the Three Sisters Bridge, both of which involve the manner in which necessarily involve a re-study of those additional portions of the plan which are directly affected by the conclusions reached in the re-examination…”
“ the very large part of the highway program which is not under study can go forward as scheduled.”- John F. Kennedy letter June 1, 1963
Notably the June 1, 1963 JFK letter has him discuss the I-66 North Leg and the [I-266] Three Sisters Bridge as controversial and in need of further study.

Since his Administration’s November 1, 1962 report had down-scaled the former while unequivocally excluding the latter altogether, his June 1, 1963 letter can be taken to suggest that JFK had become receptive to considering some sort of road alternative to the previous North leg proposals, and to the Three Sisters Bridge in some form as parts of the future Washington, D.C. road network.

Proposed I-266 Three Sisters Bridge between Virginia and Washington, D.C.
pointing at Georgetown University

JFK Administration Gave us the B&O North Central Freeway Concept

Recommendations for Transportation in the NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION Finance and Organization: A Report to the President for transmittal to Congress ,the NATIONAL CAPITAL TRANSPORTATION AGENCY, November 1, 1962

at p 29:
The 1959 plan proposed three radial highways between downtown and Montgomery County and western Prince Georges County: one in Northwest, a second in North Central and a third in Northwest Washington. Considerable controversy has developed over all three routes, but in the Northwest has generated by far the most controversy.

It is the Agency’s view that the North Central and Northeast freeways should be brought into the District and joined as a single route connecting with the recommended downtown freeway system and that the George Washington Memorial Parkway be built as planned. This highway system and the high speed raid transit service in Northwest, North Central and Northeast Washington will more than accommodate predicted traffic
at p 44:
Routes 70S and 95 in the District of Columbia and Maryland

The Third Street Leg will be extended along New York Avenue to 9th Street, N.E. From there the route will turn and follow the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks towards Silver Spring. This will be the means of bringing Interstate Routes 70-S and 95 into the city from Maryland and of serving the central and eastern portions of Montgomery County and the western portions of Prince Georges County. Freeway service between downtown and western Montgomery County will be provided by the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Potomac Freeway.

The North Capitol Street Expressway from Route 70S to downtown is an essential part of the freeway network in this area.

As pointed out in Chapter III, the combination of these freeways, improvements in arterial streets, and rail rapid transit lines in the northwest and north central corridors will provide all the capacity needed by 1980 for auto, truck and public transportation trips between Montgomery Counties and the District

Significance of Using B&O Route. [italics original] Use of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad corridor to bring Routes 70-S and 95 into the city is the key to meeting the need for additional highway capacity in northern Washington, Montgomery County and northwestern Prince Georges Counties and at the same time avoiding the substantial relocation of persons, loss of taxable property and disruption of neighborhoods that would result from construction of the Northeast, North Central and Northwest Freeway proposed in the 1959 plan. Further savings are realized by placing the rapid transit line to Silver Spring and Queen’s Chapel in the same railroad corridor.

B&O Route North Central Freeway in green
along the northerly Metropolitan Branch RR

Following this November 1, 1962 report, John F. Kennedy issued this letter dated June 1, 1963.
The John F. Kennedy letter of June 1, 1963 enumerates the cross town I-66 North Leg and Three Sisters Bridge as the most controversial segments require further study

“…I noted that certain portions of the highway network within the District of Columbia required further study. The guidelines which I believe should be followed in this re-examination are as follows:

The re-examination should focus upon the sections of the highway plans which have from the beginning been the most uncertain and the most controversial- the North Leg of the Inner Loop and the Three Sisters Bridge, both of which involve the manner in which necessarily involve a re-study of those additional portions of the plan which are directly affected by the conclusions reached in the re-examination…”

The very large part of the highway program which is not under study can go forward as scheduled.”- John F. Kennedy letter June 1, 1963

The B&O Route North Central Freeway, which is not mentioned above as then being controversial, was about to undergo its initial engineering study, commissioned by the relevant authorities in Maryland and the District of Columbia, with its report released October 1964.

That report would seriously undermine the B&O route concept by essentially excluding it.

That report did not study a single option that followed the B&O RR for its entire route, instead it considered an upwards of 37 routes basically all over the map in a vast band between 16th Street and the Masonic Eastern Star property at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue NE.

LINK- Highway Routing Mystery 1964

LINK- 1964 North Central Freeway

LINK- 1964 North Central Freeway Engineering Study

LINK- 1966 Supplementary Study Report North Central Freeway

Monday, May 10, 2010

JFK I-95 Dedication: November 14, 1963

Outside the Beltway, between Baltimore, Maryland, and the Delaware line

On November 14, 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Delaware-Maryland Turnpike, the first completed section of I-95. The ribbon-cutting event for the 59-mile strip of highway would be Kennedy's last appearance at a public works project, prior to his assassination eight days later. Delaware officials appearing with Kennedy were Governor Elbert N. Carvel and Representative Harris McDowell.
Also present, Robert Moses.

John F. Kennedy; 35th U.S. President

Remarks at the Dedication of the Delaware-Maryland Turnpike.

November 14, 1963

Mr. Moses, Governor Carvel, Governor Tawes, Congressman Fallon of Maryland, Congressman McDowell of Deleware, Mrs. Brewster, representing Senator Brewster, who stayed on the Senate floor today, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a pleasure for me to join the citizens of Delaware and Maryland in opening this new highway. This highway has been built by the dedicated effort of the citizens of these two States, and it joins a great interstate highway which represents a cooperative effort between the United States Government and the people of the various States, through which this long ribbon will pass.

It symbolizes, I believe, this highway, first of all, the partnership between the Federal Governement and the States, which is essential to the progress of all of our people; and secondly, it symbolizes the effort we have made to achieve the most modern interstate highway system in the world, a system which, when completed, will save over 8000 lives a year and $9 billion in cost. And third, it symbolizes the effort which we are giving and must be giving to organizing an effective communication system here in the United States of America.

No industry has a greater impact upon the Nation and no industry has a greater opportunity to affect our economic progress. This administration has proposed a new, comprehensive, national transportation policy, calling for an examination of the relationship between highways, rails, air routes, and water routes, and our goal is the development of the most efficient, economic, and the safest transportation system for all of our people.

Finally, this highway symbolizes a coordinated effort which is consistent with the approach which we must have to the problems in this section of the United States, for it may be only a few years when the whole area, stretching from Washington to Boston, will be one gigantic urban center. We have now undertaken a comprehensive study of all of the transportation needs which this area of the country will require in the coming years. But highway planning is not enough.

Already one-third of the people of the United States live in the 15 States through which this highway will pass. By the year 2000, these States will need to find housing and parks for 23 million more people, an increase of roughly 50 percent in less than 40 years. They will need schools for 6 million more of your children. They will need hospital and nursing homes for some 8 million men and women over the age of 65, compared to 4 1/2 million today. They will need to provide an additional 2 billion gallons of water every day.

So we must clean these rivers and we must get fresh water from salt water. These are some of the facts which the people of the Northeast must face, and the State governments must face them with them, and the Federal Government must take the lead. They may be facts which some would prefer to ignore. They may be facts which some would prefer to forget, but if the United States of America, and particularly the Northeast United States, these 15 States, are going to move ahead and provide a better life for the people of Delaware and the people of Maryland, and the people of the United States, then we are going to have to do something about it.

Because people several years ago made the plans and took the initiative, this highway is now being dedicated. I hope in the year 1963 we will again take stock of the needs of the country over the next decade and we will begin today, this year, this decade, the things which will make this country a better place to live in for the rest of this century.

I congratulate you, the people of Delaware, the people of Maryland, and the people of the United States.

Thank you.