Saturday, March 03, 2007

What Could Have Been Said: Backroom Political Deal in Alexandria to Deny Long Promised Environmental Mitigation

Advocates of more walkable and livable communities more or less free of the roar of interstate highway traffic noise suffered a major set back last December 16, when the Alexandria City Council voted in favor of a VDOT proposal to delete most of the Washington Street Urban Deck – a park covering of a portion of the I-495 Capital Beltway approach with a “lid,”

Long promised as an integral part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project since the mid 1990s, the Urban Deck was to effectively encasing the highway and containing its noise, shielding neighboring communities from the traffic noise of an upwards of 16-17 lanes of traffic, including ramps immediately adjacent to such historic sites as that of Freedman’s Cemetery.

For about half a decade, the design on display was consistently an 1,100 foot long deck, extended from a canted western edge, extending easterly to a point immediately east of the nearest wing of what would be the nearest surviving Hunting Apartment Tower. (An earlier consideration took it about 100 feet further east, fully past that nearest tower.

It leaves almost all of the two surviving feet away from 12-14 lanes of interstate highway, at that very portion where the grade rises/descends, hence creating greater traffic noise. Consideration is being given to a lawsuit for loss of property values; it is well established that property values go up as infrastructure goes down, Manhattan's 96th Street, where its Metro North trains transition from tunnel to bermway, is but one example.

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