Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Whitehurst Freeway Future?


Constructed in 1947-49, the Whitehurst Freeway has two lanes in each direction and is not interstate highway design spec: for instance it lacks shoulders.

It has since been the object of various studies that would modify it.

One such study was the 1957 I-70S Northwest Freeway study, which included options that would have overlapped and hence updated the Whitehurst Freeway.

Another was a 1963 National Park Service proposal for I-70S along the Canal Road trolley right of way.

Others were all of the following I-266 proposals with the Three Sisters Bridge from the foot of Glover-Archibold to and through Spout Run.

All of these proposals would have at least doubled the Whitehurst's number of lanes from 4 to 8 while adding shoulders- hence resulting in a significantly wider facility.

This lead to a serious start at a look at building this new improved Whitehurst underground in 1965.

1965 Whitehurst Freeway Tunnel proposal

In 1968 consideration was given to the concept of replacing the proposed Three Sisters Bridge being proposed, with a Three Sisters Tunnel; it would also include connections to a Canal Road Parkway; this tunnel to Virginia concept was then promoted by the Committee of 100. It was abandoned by 1969 over concerns that its ascent grade for its Virginia approaches would be too steep for trucks, and IFAIK never re-introduced following the mid 1970s decision to ban suck truck traffic from the connecting highway, inside the beltway I-66.

With the public attention focused on how to "de-map" freeway projects to sped WMATA construction by a few months, tunnelizing the Whitehurst would not happen.

Reconstruction: 1990s

During the 1990s the existing Whitehurst viaduct was rehabilitated in two separate projects: one for its mainline; the other for its northernmost extremities.

And Now:

Whitehurst Freeway Deconstruction Feasibility Study


This includes at least one tunnel replacement alternative.

However, this study lacks any extended tunnel concepts that would take it further west past Georgetown University & Glover-Archibold Park.

Hence, the tunnel concepts now under consideration all share the same design situation of anything other then an elevated Whitehurst, of having to make that ascent/decent to connect with Key Bridge and Canal Road.

Most of the options under consideration are for simply no Whitehurst Freeway, with the traffic on M and K Streets, with the latter refashioned as a boulevard with traffic lights maximizing pedestrian-vehicular conflict, all in the name of removing the viaduct that now covers K Street. All of these surface options still have the topographical issue of how to make the ascent/descent connection to Key Bridge and Canal Road.

This boulevard concept is being promoted by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City and D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans.

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