Saturday, December 17, 2011

Within The Beltway

See the botching of the planning of I-95 through Washington, D.C. starting in 1963 months after the U.S. President issued a report for I-95 to run near Catholic University of America:

Late 1963-1964 study DISREGARDS JFK's prescription for freeway to hug RR

Federal City Council subverts support for DC I-95 (mere weeks before 'supplementary' report faithful to JFK 1962 B&O Route) by calling for the disastrous 1964 route as "cheaper" (though a longer route taking 471 houses rather then some 30)

Officials fail to commit to JFK B&O railroad route, waffling towards disastrous 1964 plan, as late as 1968 (the year that USNCPC reversed itself and went against freeway)

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.
And afterwards that Washington, D.C. powerhouse law firm Covington & Burling PAYS for anti-freeway riots in the DC City Council

Who Really Stopped Washington, D.C.'s Freeways

Political Mass Within The Beltway

A Sampling of Attitudes Towards D.C. I-95
These were a group of black-clothed priests that attended my June 5, 2005 presentation near Catholic University of America, at the Archbishop Carroll High School through the D.C. NE Historical Society. My presentation was "The Never-Built Freeways of Northeast D.C.: The Plans and the Controversy, Part I" by Douglas A. Willinger of the Takoma Park Highway Design Studio. IIRC, these men were identified to me as Jesuits: members of the Jesuit Order, established by Ignatius Loyola in 1543 to counter the Protestant Reformation, via strategizing to further and expand the power of the Vatican/Roman Catholic Church....

I remember two of these men in particular, one white haired elderly, described to me as liking to jump on the bandwagon rather then think for himself, and a young, dark haired, reddish complexion one – too young to have been more then a child when D.C. I-95 was canceled in 1968-1973 – who appeared to me to be of mixed Irish and German ancestry. It was he who expressed the astonishment that they were actually going to run I-95 through Washington, D.C., as if that was somehow unfathomable. He did not appear too pleased to hear me discuss its feasibility, even as I acknowledged the shortcomings of the earlier designs (and that I felt it was right to stop those earlier specific plans, such as the 1964 plan’s demolition of Brooks Mansion).

Figuring that these men had an interest in what they would likely call “social justice” matters, I ended my laptop projection presentation with my own example of activism: the South Capitol Street/ Frederick Douglass Mall, and its desecration by the atrociously placed Nationals Ball Park Stadium, with the visual image of the stamp-pair that I had created with Ian Goddard in early 2005. I looked forward to an interesting discussion.

Instead there was only a cold silence.

Such so far reflects the general attitude of the authorities towards any urban freeways.
JFK Gave Us the "Y" Route I-70S-I-95 B&O RR Route D.C. North Central Freeway

Recommendations for Transportation in the National Capital Region: A Report to the President for transmittal to Congress by the National Capital Transportation Agency November 1, 1962

At page 44:
Significance of Using B&O Route. 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.
And, at pages 25-26:
Three Sisters Bridge In the 1959 plan, Three Sisters Island 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 River and the Soldiers Home area. Standing alone, the only purpose of Three Sisters would 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 River. Projects now under construction, or recently completed, will nearly double the number of such lanes ... [while] 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 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, enough to fill 12 bridge lanes ... The result, as the following table shows, is that under the plan recommended by the Agency, central area bridge capacity will be adequate for the needs of motorists in 1980 without Three Sisters Bridge.
Yet a June 1, 1963 letter 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…”
Since his November 1962 report had rejected the Three Sisters Bridge, his June 1963 letter calling for that bridge's 're-examination' meant that it might be needed, hence having JFK place freeways alongside Catholic University of America and Georgetown University.

Cancelled D.C. I-95 next to Catholic University of America

The canceled I-266 Three Sisters Bridge- pointing at Georgetown University

If only JFK had not been assassinated, he would have asked why J.E. Greiner dissed his prescription for the freeway to hug the railroad centrally located between the Potomac River and the eastern portion of the I-495 Capital Beltway, hence resulting in the freeways' political demonification. JFK specified the B&O Route, as "the key", to bringing I-70S and I-95 into Washington, D.C. "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"; yet the 1964 Greiner 'North Central Freeway' report excluded it, instead offering an upwards of 37 routes each with a far far higher amount of local impacts, akin to that in the 1959 planning. And it offers up a recommended route partially along the railroad but with serious deviations upon longer routes in Takoma Park Maryland and to a lesser degree in Brookland, D.C., creating mass opposition.

Apparently, none of the media outlets asked why the 1963-64 North Central Freeway engineering study report, released in October 1964, so deviated from JFK's proposal. In researching the history of Washington, D.C.'s un-built freeways I have yet to see this question about the Greiner report's betrayal of the JFK freeway plan addressed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ribbon Cutting

View more videos at:

Only a ribbon cutting- actual opening is in a few days, and from I-295 northbound, with the other ramps completed later.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tomorrow's [Scheduled] Opening- 11th Street I-695 Bridges

Friday, December 16, 2011
9:00 am - 9:45 am Refreshments
DC Department of Housing and Community Development
1800 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC

10:00 am, Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

On-site parking will not be made available to the general public on the new bridges. Bus transportation to and from the event will be provided between 9:30 and 10 am from the DHCD Office.

For more information on this event, please call 202.484.2330. To learn more about the 11th Street Bridge Project, visit

On Top NOT

Emily Badger writes:

"Today, where that behemoth of an interchange would have sat right on top of Mount Vernon Square, there is instead a metro line below ground, and a mixed-use grocery store and apartment complex above."

Actually no.

The freeway was to be a TUNNEL, with any of the exposed roadways BELOW GROUND-LEVEL, and accommodating new real estate development.

As Scott M. Kozel correctly describes it:

The I-66 portion of the North Leg of the Inner Loop would have extended from the present I-66 terminus near the Watergate Apartments at K Street NW, extending as the North Leg under K Street NW in a tunnel, and emerging east of Mount Vernon Square and junctioning with I-95 about a mile north of the U.S. Capitol Building.

The I-66 portion of the North Leg would have had 6 lanes. The I-66 K Street Tunnel was the solution to the original I-66 alignment that would have run east-west through urban neighborhoods alongside Florida Avenue NW, and between T and U Streets NW about a half mile north of K Street NW. If the K Street Tunnel had been built, it would have been a cut and cover design, about 1.5 miles long, buried out of sight under the straight 147-foot wide avenue, and passing under Mount Vernon Square, and it would have run from near Watergate almost to today's New York Ave./I-395 junction.

The underscores how writers must check facts rather then simply relying upon entities as WMATA, or 'mainstream' media such as The Washington Post, which can't even be honest about the route for I-95, let alone the I-66 K Street Tunnel.

I-66 K Street Tunnel

I-395 (I-95) Extension

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WMATA Pushing False Dichotomy of Them OR Freeways

misleads by failing to acknowledge reduced footprint of freeway tunnels, particularly in the context of accommodating new development, and that transit and freeways were planned together

November 2011 WMATA report

Building Metro allowed and produced economic development

Plans in the 1970s to improve access to the core included building interstates directly through the city. The region chose to use Metro to provide that access rather than take land for highways. Where there would have been highways, thriving neighborhoods now exist.

Without Metro: access with highways puts an interchange in Mount Vernon Square.
Actually beneath the streets and with new development
WMATA would have us forget that the I-66 K Street Tunnel planning came WITH transit planning
With Metro: Live, work, play.
Actually with Metro AND the freeways
In particular, much of the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood would have been lost to a large interchange. At the time, the interchange would have displaced 845 dwelling units and 97 commercial and industrial firms employing 980 people.
Actually not true, the interchange was to be underground, and beneath existing right of way, with some additional land acquisition which would have new development like that now being built. The displacement was quantitatively perhaps none (given the replacement housing within the new development atop), with 148 existing dwellings displaced for the Mt Vernon to 4th Street segment (the 845 figure including the extension to 1st Street NE, including the easternmost block of townhouses demolished about 10 years ago).
As the area has developed, north of New York Avenue, we now have a neighborhood of row houses, small apartment buildings, and churches. The sidewalks are brick and shadowed by tall trees. On New York Avenue, we have several restaurants, bars, and a car mechanic.
The City Vista block (east of 5th, between L and M) would have been parking above the freeway. Thanks to Metro, we instead have a vibrant development: apartments, condominiums, a large Safeway, a mobile phone store, a bank, a hardware store, a variety of restaurants (some with outdoor seating), a gym, and a Starbucks. A farmer's market has opened up a block away. It is a half to three-quarters of a mile to three subway stations, and only a mile to a fourth: Union Station where you can also connect to the Amtrak lines going all up the east coast.
In short, this is a great neighborhood with lots of variety and everything its residents need. Had the region chosen the freeway instead of Metro, we would have lost this neighborhood and its contributions to employment, taxes,and quality of life [sic- see below].

Sources: Map and description of displacement adapted from “District of Columbia Interstate System 1971,” November 1971, DeLeuw, Cather Associates and Harry Weese & Associates, Ltd. City Vista photo: Sean Robertson.

Forgotten is that the rail transit and freeway systems had been designed together.

WMATA Subway Plans Indicate the I-66 K Street Tunnel

1971 DeLeuw Cather Weese study report 
showing intact Mt Vernon Square with I-66 in tunnel beneath

1971 DeLeuw Cather Weese study report 
showing intact Mt Vernon Square with I-66 in tunnel beneath, plus uncovered below-ground interchange to the east with parking lot that would be compatible with a replacement by a building akin to as done above the Center Leg at K Street

Center Leg at K Street
WMATA misrepresents the planning as if buildings were not or could not be placed atop freeway area.

1971 Freeway Planning Replacement Development

New Development OK with highway traffic on street rather than in tunnel?!
WMATA appears to be echoing an inacurate description of the freeway planning seen elsewhere by those acting as if oblivious to the highway history web sites as A Trip Within the Beltway and Scott Kozel's D.C. page at Roads to the Future.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel- Cross Sections Published

Concept 5 preserves the most space alongside the SE Freeway, thus best facilitating the freeway's lowering/tunnelization, ESPECIALLY if it shifted the new northern tunnel closer to the new southern tunnel, rather then using the existing tunnel's centerline. Concept 5 avoids the waste of filling in a new excavation via making the new cut into a new tunnel, and furthermore preserves part of the existing tunnel's excavation for the outboard portion of the future underground SE Freeway.

The report also includes options of a temporary cut to the north of the existing tunnel, even though that provides less space for lowering-covering the freeway, but may run into issues with the existing elevated freeway's underground piling supports. Concept 2 is essentially CSX's traditional preferred plan, with Concept 5 a recent addition.

Virginia Avenue Tunnel Study

More from JD

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Takoma, D.C. Death Trap Residential Development

"The zoning permits wood framed construction, reducing costs"

Post 2001 Washington, D.C. 'planning' for death trap residences of wood framed construction 'reducing costs' within rail-car derailment footprint, in total disregard of safety to chock this important transportation corridor.

Such de-railments along this corridor in 1976 and 1996 avoided mass loss of life because the dwellings were set back from the railroad, either via Blair Avenue, or a parking lot.

And to consider that these death trap developments, starting with Elevation 314 and Cedar crossing occurred after 911 with the lip service given towards transportation evacuation routes.

That would logically include this corridor -- the sole main north-south transportation corridor for what is said to be the Nation's Capital -- for the un-built and deceitfully de-maped North Central Freeway proposed by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, November 1, 1962, only to be botched by its initial engineering study - deviating from JFK's prescription for the freeway to tightly follow this existing railway - initiated at about the time of his assassination some 8 days after he personally inaugurated this freeway's Baltimore-Deleware segment.

More potential death trap 'transit oriented' development favored by WMATA:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Takoma D.C. Travesty- Cram 'em in

Another example of a planning malfeasance- just inside Washington D.C.

This cramming in of residential units next to RR is insane- especially when it is built within the footprint of a derailment AND at a lower elevation, such as the dangerously close "Elevation 314".

I say it can all be demolished as hazardous- which it is not only to the new dwellers, but to local and larger community and societal interests and needs, particularly for a much needed super-project to give the area its missing and needed comprehensive transportation, linear parkland, and bringing that creek back to the surface.

Douglas Willinger
A Trip Within The Beltway
Build the Grand Arc

Proposed Spring Place Apartments – October 19 & 24 Meetings & Hearings

Developers Donald Tucker and Bruce Levin propose building two five-story buildings, a total of 140 apartments, on Spring Place, NW (along the RR Tracks and behind the Gables Apartments on Blair Road, NW). Access would be at Blair and Chestnut.

Some residents have asked for changes and more time to work on the proposal. I hope the developers will agree. They are making revisions. As it now stands, here are the project details and the timing.

* Buildings will be approximately 45 feet tall
* Phase I – 60 affordable rental units, funded by several DC government programs, 11 parking spaces
* Phase II – 80 market rate rental units, 31 parking spaces (parking lot backs up to Chestnut Street homes)
* Materials are Hardie Plank (a concrete product) and pressed concrete block

The developers are requesting that a short street/alley be closed and are also asking for a reduction to the parking requirements, which must be approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). The developers must provide a traffic study, which they estimate will be available in November. It is possible that no new traffic controls at Chestnut and Blair will be provided and that none will be required.

1. Wednesday, October 19 - Developers meet at the Landis Building, 7059 Blair Road, NW from 6:30 -8:30 pm to present revised plans. Contact the developers (info below) for a site tour between 4:30 and 6:30 pm.

2. Key Vote, Public Views Solicited - October 24, 7 pm, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B - 4th District Community Room, 6001 Ga. Ave., NW

ANC 4B will vote on its recommendation to the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) . The proposal is in the Takoma Historic District and HPRB must review and approve the design for its appropriateness, size, materials, and impact on the historic district, among other issues. Traffic and environmental issues are not part of HPRB’s review.

3. Deciding Vote, Public Testimony Solicited - November 17 (Time TBA, but during the day)
441 4th St., NW, Room 220 South (next to Judiciary Square Metro – Red Line)
HPRB will decide whether to approve the design, reject it, make changes, or ask staff to make changes
4. February?? 2012 - Board of Zoning Adjustment Public Hearing – Traffic Issues - TBA
To see the proposal (no revised drawings available yet), go to my web page,
Please share your comments with me.

--- Sara Green, (202) 829-8802

Developer Contact Information:
Bruce Levin – 301-364-4510
Donald Tucker – 301-654-6670

Sara Green, ANC 4B01
See my website:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Huff Post DC Thies Strikes A Nerve on Un-Built D.C. I-95

The Huffington Post has started a DC blog, and its writer Chuck Thies has bravely struck a nerve:
" with summer approaching and an infant in the backseat, we decided driving a car without air-conditioning and questionable safety features was no longer an option. We sold the Volare for one dollar to a Rasta man from Philadelphia who was recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Then we joined ZipCar, which lasted for five years. It worked well.

A month ago my son started school across town. It is a public school, but the cost of commuting is pricey. A roundtrip taxi is more than twenty dollars in the morning and slightly less in the afternoon. ZipCar rental is risky at one hour; in order to avoid late fees that means a 90-minute reservation twice daily. And commuting by bus is an untenable time suck for self-employed parents: two separate routes, 45-minutes each way, two times every day.

So, last week we rejoined the community of car owners.

Now we are back in the crosshairs of those who prosecute the war on automobiles. I have already heard it several times: "You don't need a car," "You could do that with a bike," and so on.

Every day hundreds of thousands of vehicles hit the roads in our region. Some are delivering refrigerators; some transport salespeople, technicians and consultants who would lose valuable time waiting for a bus or whose customers are nowhere near a Metro; some are heading to the doctor; some are police or emergency vehicles; some are bringing materials to a building project; and, many are simply passing through.

In the 1950s transportation experts saw the future. They designed an outer beltway with Potomac River bridges connecting Virginia and Maryland. Roads like the Inter-County Connector, Rt. 301 and the Fairfax County Parkway are vestiges of this unrealized dream. Other highways, like I-95, were re-routed in deference to politics, not planning. If you look at a map of major roads in the region, it is plain to see what the designers had in mind. It is also possible to imagine those dreams reaching fruition.

The metropolitan area is growing. People are moving here and businesses are hiring. This trend is expected to continue for two more decades with more than 1.5 million new jobs coming to the region. Not all of those employers will be walking distance from a Metro. Every new home will not be built on a block with a bus stop. People with jobs will buy cars and drive them to places to spend money. That is reality.

I love walking, bikes and riding our much-maligned Metro. I do not like sitting unnecessarily in traffic. If the war on automobiles succeeds we will all be caught in a jam and the long-term prosperity of our region will be at risk."

Greater Greater Washington has a piece by David Alpert reporting on Thies piece, taking issue with Thies assertion of a "war on automobiles".
And Chuck Thies, an insightful commentator on District corruption issues on WPFW and the Georgetown Dish, decides to use his inaugural post to complain about the push for safer and better bicycle facilities as a "war on automobiles."

I'd link to it, except the Huffington Post uses detailed analytics to determine how long to leave posts on its home page, and this one needs to roll off as quickly as possible.

Here's the link. The vast bulk is a long recitation of every car Thies has owned and the location of every places he's lived or worked. But Thies comes to the conclusion that he can't drive because of the location of his son's new school, and therefore, any public policy that's not about automobility is the "war on cars":
There are powerful, multiplying forces aligned who seek to make driving as difficult as possible. They oppose spending money to build roads and want to occupy your parking space with a bike rack.

Don't get me wrong; I love public transportation, bicycling and walking. ... A month ago my son started school across town. ... So, last week we rejoined the community of car owners.

Now we are back in the crosshairs of those who prosecute the war on automobiles. I have already heard it several times: "You don't need a car," "You could do that with a bike," and so on. ...

People are moving here and businesses are hiring. ... Not all of those employers will be walking distance from a Metro. Every new home will not be built on a block with a bus stop. People with jobs will buy cars and drive them to places to spend money. That is reality.

I love walking, bikes and riding our much-maligned Metro. I do not like sitting unnecessarily in traffic. If the war on automobiles succeeds we will all be caught in a jam and the long-term prosperity of our region will be at risk.

The problem isn't with a public policy that increases transportation options, but rather with these people who hassled Thies for driving. It's fine for Thies to drive if that's easiest for him. I drive sometimes. I have friends who drive to work….

… I bike a lot. I take Metro and buses. And sometimes I drive. I don't feel bad about my transportation choices, but neither do I say that a project which helps people on one mode I use sometimes is a war on another mode.
Agreed, the problem is not about increasing transportation option. More options are better, as are options better designed for fit within the existing environment- with that becoming far more practical as demonstrated with Spain’s Proyecto Madrid Rio burying its M-30 urban freeway beneath new parkland.

Yet surprisingly little is said about the transportation option that would have served 100s of thousands of people daily- the elimination of all of Washington D.C.'s planned freeways of its downtown inner hub and its northern radials?

SO what does Alpert have to say?
Thies wasn't just talking about bikes; he's also talking about opposition to the Outer Beltway and most other freeways conceived in the 1950s. There are plenty of arguments against that as well, but most of all, none of it would help Thies' own personal driving concerns, which is what his whole article focuses on (after the many stories about the many cars he bought and sold, for how much and to whom).

If anyone can feel under attack, it's cyclists. Tom Coburn is currently tying Congress in knots to try to cut any dedicated bike and pedestrian funding, which if approved would surely lead most states to zero out entirely any spending on bike lanes and sidewalks.
Alpert can only there say “there are plenty of arguments against that was well” regarding the biggest deletion of a transportation choice (choosing not to perhaps of the numerous outright lies about the un-built freeways promoted by The Washington Post), with Thies hitting the nail on the head about un-built I-95 in Washington, D.C. –

“re-routed in deference to politics, not planning. If you look at a map of major roads in the region, it is plain to see what the designers had in mind. It is also possible to imagine those dreams reaching fruition.”

Indeed, I-95 was re-routed onto the eastern portion of the I-495 Capital Beltway in 1976 or 1977, after the abandonment of planning in 1976 to route it down a widened Baltimore-Washington Parkway and then along New York Avenue to connect with the I-95 Center Leg (subsequently renamed the I-395 Third Street Tunnel).

That plan came after the July 1973 cancellation of the last true extension (that is, via the clearly intended stubs at the interchange with the Capital Beltway) via the existing 250 foot wide PEPCO power transmission line right of way to its southern end at Ray Rd near New Hampshire Avenue, and continuing (in order to avoid the powerline substation) along New Hampshire Avenue’s western or southbound side to the DC-MD line, so continuing to turn to follow the B&O Metropolitan Branch RR (opened since 1863) that we know today as the above ground branch of the WMATA Red Line and the CSX/MARC RR- a total of 4 sets of RR tracks. I-95 was to follow this corridor to an interchange atop the railyards, and then following New York Avenue to connect with the Center Leg/Third Street Tunnel; it was accompanied by an I-295 Inner Loop East Leg to RFK Stadium and then curving along the Anacostia River to the SE Freeway Barney Circe stub; plus a cross town I-66 tunnel primarily beneath K Street. Planning in a 1971 report shows the tunnel concept of minimizing local impacts – think about noise and emissions containment – applied also to the final connecting segment of I-95 to the Center Leg and a portion of the I-295 Eats Leg along New York and Mt Ollivet with replacement housing atop; it also shows a similar yet inferior concept for the segment in the Brookland/CUA area, of a covered highway with replacement housing and community facilities, though with the western side with an open wall design that would have thrown and likely amplified the traffic noise towards CUA- a likely reason why an elevated design had been rejected, and perhaps a concern with earlier (1966) planning for this deck to continue directly alongside CUA. Oddly, a fully enclosed tunnel-way was apparently un-considered.

Likewise, it may seem bizarre how such a highway – un-built I-95 in Washington, D.C. and its connection to the stubs at the Capital Beltway was ever cancelled, let alone widely perceived as a “white man’s roads”- particularly given the low numbers of dwellings it would have displaced.

It would have displaced 0 in Maryland,as per 1973 planning, thanks to the PEPCO right of way; plus 13 commercial retail spots including two gasoline stations.

It would have displaced 59 in Washington, D.C. from the Maryland line southerly to the railyards interchange near New York Avenue: 23 and 5 alongside and near the northern side of New Hampshire Avenue, and then 34 at the western edge of Brookland with the highway routed entirely upon the RR’s eastern side.

It’s final segment along the northern side of New York Avenue, from that interchange to the Center Leg – the North Leg – East – would have displaced about 600 dwellings (replacing this vanguard of late 1800s charming latter 1800s townhouses with 1970s-esgue higher rises). The I-295 East Leg (the alternate route for DC I-95 to continue on through the SW Freeway and 14th Street Bridges to the “I-395” Shirley Highway in Virginia) would have displaced and replaced 172 1920s era townhouses.

Meanwhile, not building these highways ended up with the widening of the I-495/I-95 Capital Beltway in and near Alexandria Virginia with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge , as well as the complete reconstruction and enlargement of the interchange of this Capital Beltway with the I-95 mainline at Springfield: the former displacing some 330 dwellings; the latter 57: neither AFAIK with replacement housing. Nor with any such serious environmental mitigation as being covered- with Alexandria Virginia’s Washington Street Urban Deck being weirdly cut from 1,100 to a mere 200 feet as an 11th hour decision against and without even acknowledging the overwhelming opposition to this upon the Wilson Bridge Project’s Stakeholder Participation Panel on the Route One Interchange and Washington Street Urban Deck.

So accordingly, it is OK to displace 387 dwellings in Virginia (without replacement) , but not 231 (59 plus 172), nor 831 to include the connection to the Center Leg, WITH replacement housing and covering over as tunnel to contain traffic noise and emissions (an environmentally far more sensible idea oddly neglected by the transportation and environmentalist organizations).

Oddly, regarding the most architecturally worthy spot involved – the some 600 dwellings alongside New York Avenue, subsequent planning for this segment (revealed in a 1996 report commissioned by the DC Mayor’s Office) presents a tunnel with a curvature for the transition with the Center Leg that fails to meet FWHWA line of sight standards for curved tunnels; yet it ignores the never officially considered geometrically feasible routing option for a tunnel beneath O Street NE and NW before turning southerly beneath the recreation field at Dunbar HS, displacing not 600 but rather some 34 south of N Street and between 4th Street and New Jersey Avenue- a 95% reduction in displacement, with superior line of sight.

So we’ve demolished 387 in Virginia, for the sake of 93 (59 plus 34) or 165 (93 plus 172)- despite the matter of displacement, nor environmental mitigation- and for the sake of a LONGER route.

And with within Washington, D.C. it was that stretch of I-95 northward from New York Avenue (not inefficiently easterly and then via a Baltimore-Washington Parkway widened and redone to accommodate large trucks), displacing a mere 59 dwelling by early 1970s planning, or 69 by latter 1960s planning, got this political grief about “white mans’ roads through black mans' homes”.

One can see where this highway would go along the western edge of the Washington, D.C. area of Brookland- through the WMATA parking lots and bus depot area, and northwards through the industrial buildings all immediately along the RR’s eastern side. And southward through the 34 (1970+ planning) or 69 (1966+ planning) nearest to the RR- it would not have gone through the area of this RR where it widens as it passes south beneath Franklin Avenue, despite that option’s potential for the best windshield vista anywhere along I-95 from Maine to Florida. Clearly such a routing makes perfect sense regionally and locally: this RR is about midway between the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway in Maryland, and the George Washington Parkway in Virginia; it is the area’s sole existing above-ground transportation corridor and industrial corridor providing the space to construct a freeway with minimal residential displacement.

So does the PEPCO routing, however it was only the officially considered route for less than a year, within 1973, between its outright cancellation that July, and the February 1973 abandonment of the officially considered route since the 1950s of Northwest Branch Park, passing directly alongside the roughly simultaneous planning of Prince Georges County Plaza Shopping Mall.

Indeed, that was initially noted when this corridor was chosen for Washington, D.C. I-95, in 1962 by the White House:
Use of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad corridor to bring Routes 70-S and 95 into the city is the key to meting the need for additional highway capacity in northern Washington, Montgomery County, and northwestern Prince Georges County, 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 Freeways proposed in the 1959 plan. Further savings are realized by placing the rapid transit lines to Silver Spring and Queen’s Chapel in this same railroad corridor.” – Recommendations for Transportation in the national capital region a report to the president for transmittal to Congress by the National Capital Transportation Agency- November 1, 1962

This was part of a highway design evolution- existing right of ways, helping result in significant reductions from the impacts of the 1959 planning- numbers. The JFK Administration was more open to unorthodox means of achieving more environmentally comprehensive grade separated express roads.

The following year, the U.S. President in a letter notes:

“…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 the Three Sisters Bridge, landing essentially alongside Georgetown University for further consideration.

By that years end, President JFK had been assassinated, 8 days after he personally dedicated the Baltimore to Delaware segment of I-95, and the Baltimore, Maryland engineering firm, J.E. Greiner and Associates begins the preliminary engineering report on WDC’s North Central Freeway.

The planning was grossly botched: 37 routes all over the map. A recommended route #11 largely along the RR yet deviating significantly in Brookland, and even more-so in Takoma Park for a segment of the I-70S portion.

Selecting the B&O corridor routing was the consensus ultimately of the early 1960s controversies over the 1959 planning. Yet J.E. Greiner deviated from the JFK plan, being its betrayal.

That they would do this after cancelling the Northwest Freeway west of Rock Creek Park- created the backdrop of the protest.

The "Support" for the North Central Freeway by organizations as the Federal City Council, undermined it by endorsing the infinitely more invasive 1964 route #11 Railroad Sligo East plan.

Each successive plan would introduce new objection:

Washington, D.C. Cancelled Freeways Hegelian Dialectic

A law suit against the B&O North Central Freeway by the law firm Covington & Burling on the grounds that it lacked the support statutorily required of the DC City Council and USNCPC- some two before those entities had reversed their support.

The Specious Reasoning of the 1968 USNCPC Reversal

The Circumstances of the 1969 DC City Council Opposition to the B&O North Central Freeway

The Specious Reasoning of the mid 1970s 'de-mappings'private automobiles obsolete by the 1990s because of less petroleum, 1975 memo 'eg don't build the DC I-66 K Street Tunnel because the connecting segment in Virginia is being cancelled' yet that latter segment was built,

The Washington Post Lies About the DC I-95 Route

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Virginia Avenue CSX Tunnel

A meeting was held on September 14, 2011.

No word to me yet if anything was said about constructing this tunnel with a prefabricated lid to minimize surface disruption time, nor likewise make it wider to accommodate the eastbound lanes of a future SE Freeway Tunnel.

More information at Greater Greater Washington, and at the project website.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Joseph Passonneau Dead August 22, 2011

Joseph Passonneau- Renowned Architect
Defended St Louis Arch;
helped design I-70 freeway through Glenwood Canyon, CO;
but later let Washington, D.C. down

Died August 22, 2011 in a Washington DC nursing home, diagnosed 7 years ago with dementia- symbolizing his later years apostasy regarding urban freeway planning.

Attended Harvard on a scholarship, graduated 1942, entered Naval intelligence in the South Pacific.

Received job as chief architect for the Tennessee Valley Authority, and then a position at St Louis Washington University to teach part time, before being made Dean of that university’s School of Architecture.

Promoted the idea of the St Louis Arch.

Left St. Louis in 1967 for Chicago and later by the 1990s Washington, D.C.

Was involved with freeway design.

Designed the acclaimed I-70S Glenwood Canyon Colorado segment of tunnels and cantilevered motorways through environmentally sensitive narrow canyon. (I would have like to see him take that design approach to a 2x2ing of Washington, D.C.’s Canal Road past Georgetown University!)

Also designed the un-built Chicago Crosstown Expressway.

The highway was planned as a divided roadway, with northbound and southbound lanes separated by a strip ¼ to ½ mile in width. Generally, this highway would bracket a linear industrial belt. Continuous frontage roads would be located in the interior of this corridor so that the land between expressway halves would have much greater accessibility than land on the outside. In its clearest form, this could become an effective design, providing greater (and continuous) access to high intensity industrial uses within the corridor; and lower accessibility (and therefore protection from heavy traffic) for residential areas on each side.
The Chicago Crosstown was cancelled in 1979 as one of Mayor Jayne Byrne’s first acts, and more recently suggested to be revived in some form.

Passoneau had hence been prominent in freeway design rural and urban. You might not have known that from listening to him in his later years- particularly since the late 1990s when he was listed as a member of the “Committee of 100 on the Federal City”, and gave a number of presentations at Washington, D.C.'s National Building Museum.

It was during his years in Washington, D.C. that he finally went apostate.

As a start, contrast the words of this one time Chicago Crosstown Expressway designer, with these given in 2004:

Next up was Passonneau, who introduced himself by noting that as a career transportation planner, he'd worked on most of the major highway projects in the country. Widely recognized as an expert in his field, Passonneau wrote an article about the history of the Washington, D.C., highway system that appeared in a recent issue of National Geographic magazine. Highway activists in the audience, on hand to support a six-lane I-240, seemed to greet Passonneau's appearance at the lectern with an admiration that bordered on awe. Knowing his time was limited, Passonneau said he wanted to add just two things to Moule's presentation. "Traffic always damages the corridor it goes through," he declared. "And if citizens aren't involved from beginning to the end, the project will not be successful."
This was evident with Passonneau's August 2000 National Building Museum presentation as the man for presenting the future Undergrounded SE Freeway presented as a less expensive alternative to a future Underground SW-SE Freeway- never-mind the sheer implausibility of that as the two freeways currently connect in an elevated configuration (IOW- burying – lowering – covering the SE Freeway requires likewise for the connecting segment of the SW Freeway at least to 7th Street SW).

Passoneau’s proposal was done without any apparent engineering considerations for the connections between this proposal for a SE Freeway Tunnel that somehow met the existing elevated grade of the SW Freeway.

West Portal of Joseph Passoneau’s SE Freeway Tunnel Proposal

SE Freeway – existing; Passonneau ‘tunnel’ illustration simply a ‘photoshoped’ lid atop the existing elevated freeway

A lid atop the existing elevated SW/SE Freeway junction would raise the elevation of South Capitol Street to radically affect its relationship with the buildings to the south- eg. placing at least the 1st story of the buildings alongside South Capitol Street below street level.

Told me that he had not dived into that ‘can of worms’ after giving his presentation where he confessed that if he was “king of the world” that he would have simply removed the freeway without any underground replacement.

An architect of the Glenwood Canyon I-70 segment and the Chicago Crosstown would not be normally expected to embrace such an apostasy from grade separation, particularly the potentials feasible with existing right of way tunnels and more urban appropriate beneath a traffic circle underground helix, such as that which I developed with the Alexandria Orb.

Nor did I expect to hear his simple reply to my sending him a copy of the Orb upon asking him in person that it was simply “overly ambitious’ without a further syllable of explanation, this all after hearing him say publicly that we should be more ambitious and not risk being under ambitious.

Neither would I expect to hear his outright dismissal of any completion of the Washington D.C. system even by tunnel as “bizarre”- being obtuse about the distinctions between earlier and later urban freeway design.

Nor, likewise, his far more plausibly bizarre answer to me at a subsequent National Building Museum presentation, that the 1990s USNCPC Extending the Legacy South Capitol Mall would somehow “wreck the [existing National Mall]”

Passonneau 2000 NBM presentation slide show rendering of his proposal for South Capitol Street excluding the "Mall"/"Promenade" concept of Extending the Legacy

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Forgotten Elephant- Building TOO DAMN CLOSE

While Greater Greater Washington asks about the policy of guardrails only for people in automobiles ...

 'Elevation 314' Deathtrap

The "Elevation 314" 'train wreck' dwellings built within the footprint of a heavy RR de-railment- the windows represent people's condos, mainly built within the footprint of a heavy RR de-railment and at a lower elevation.

Notably this was approved in 2002- AFTER 911 with its slight bit of brief lip-service to the concept of evacuation routes.

 'Elevation 314' Deathtrap dwelling promoter Russel Katz 
with then D.C. Council-member Adrian M. Fenty;
I once brought up this as a death trap to Fenty at a public meeting 
only to have Fenty tell me to 'shut up'

photos TWP September 2002

Thursday, July 28, 2011

US NCPC to CHOCK its 2008 I-395 Tunnel Proposal?!

New planning proposals by the United States National Capital Planning Commission to build too closely to the I-395 Southwest Freeway, potentially hampering their 2008 Washington Channel Tunnel proposal

It continues the ill advised idea seen in planning irresponsibly pushed by such organizations connected with the 'Committee of 100' on the Federal City, of a west extension of essentially the building line of the cir. 1999 'Capital Square' townhouses, a mere 16 1/5 feet away, clearly complicating constructing the I-395 Washington Channel Tunnel, leaving no room to maintain traffic, while blocking adding even a single lane

Friday, July 22, 2011

MD National Motorists Association Asks 'Should the BW Parkway be Widened?

July 22, 2011

NMA Maryland Alert: Should the Baltimore Washington Parkway (295) be Widened?

Open access to our federal government is a key issue in this day and age -- and that access includes roads to Washington...!

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway carries approximately 100,000 vehicles per day (Annual Average Daily Traffic), and this represents a five-fold traffic increase since the parkway opened more than 50 years ago. (See this historic overview.)

Yet when an NMA member called his Senator about the need to widen the Parkway to relieve congestion that had traffic at a daily standstill, he was told that he was "the only one complaining."

Do you agree that lanes (and not just an HOV lane) should be added to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway as soon as practically possible? Then add your voice to the chorus. Members of the Maryland House of Delegates and the State Senate, along with Baltimore officials, should hear the complaints about traffic on the parkway directly.

Here are the contact links:

Maryland House of Delegates
Maryland State Senate
Baltimore Department of Transportation

If any place needs its free and open access maintained, it's our nation's capital, right...?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eastern Star D.C. I-95 CHOCK!!!

Considering buying into "The Hampshires"?
Know this location's regional transportation significance.

New demolition specials on D.C. I-95 route, in the form of "The Hampshires" a real estate project by Comstock Homes.

Was reported in December 2010. AFAIK it has not been covered in such planning related blogs as Greater Greater Washington.

According to the developer's web site:


The Hampshires is situated in a quiet residential neighborhood within walking distance of two Metro Stations. The Fort Totten Metro Station, to the South, and the Takoma Metro Station, to the North, are each within a mile from the Hampshires community.

This exclusive community is being built around a landscaped Village Green featuring landscaped open space and a community center. The Hampshires combines the conveniences of upscale, urban living in a Metro accessible location with hard to find, private open space amenities. Opportunities to own a new home are limited, just 37 City Homes (single family detached) and 73 townhomes will be available at the Hampshires.

The Towns of Hampshires, ranging from approximately 1,800 to 1,900 square feet, will include 3 bedrooms, gourmet kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, upgraded cabinetry, open floorplans with generous room sizes, some with garages. The Towns of Hampshires will feature architecture designed to compliment the historical ambience the surrounding area.

The Hampshires is located at 6000 New Hampshire Ave. NE in the established Lomond Riggs neighborhood of Washington, DC. Pre-construction prices are expected to start in the upper $400’s.

For additional information about this community please contact the Comstock Homes sales representative at 703-883-1700 or request information online by clicking HERE.

At this time, I have yet to see any renderings.[* UPDATE July 15, 2011] Though described as including a village green, the project will likely include a number of new homes that can be described as demolition specials, to create new opposition to ever completing PEPCO-B&O I-95 within the Beltway.

[* UPDATE]- Here's a plan view from the design firm's web site:

PEPCO power line right of way- 250 feet wide, extending about 5 miles from the Capital Beltway to the vicinity of Ray Road and New Hampshire Avenue, about 1,600 feet from the MD/DC line

I-95 'stumps' at the I-495 Capital Beltway, with parallel PEPCO right of way

I-95 extension- southern end of PEPCO & along New Hampshire Avenue in Maryland (1973)

I-95 extension alongside New Hampshire Avenue in Washington, D.C. (1971)

I-95 extension alongside New Hampshire Avenue in Maryland cross section (1973)

'The Hampshires' I-95 Demolition Special Project in Washington, D.C. via Comstock Homes (2011)

New Hampshire Avenue to PEPCO Connection

D.C. Freeways 101