Monday, May 07, 2007

1964 North Central Freeway Routing Mystery

JFK 1962 Plan

1963-1964 Study

Why would the 1964 North Central Freeway Engineering Feasibility Report not adhere to the 1962 Kennedy Administration B&O "Y" Route, particularly by veering away from the B&O railroad on a longer less direct route on a new swath displacing 471 houses in Takoma Park, Maryland?

This report starts with this letter, dated October 30, 1964, by E.J. Donnelly of J.E. Greiner Company Consulting Engineers, to Thomas F. Aires, Director of the Department of Highways and Traffic of the Government of he District of Columbia, and John B. Funk, State Roads Commission of Maryland.
In accordance with the terms of the District of Columbia Formal Agreement No. 2224, we submit herewith our Engineering Feasibility Report on the proposed North Central Freeway.

The Report resents the studies and investigations, data, conclusions and recommendations developed in selecting a route for the Freeway, and it includes drawings which illustrate the features of the proposed facility and delineate the various routes studied for the Project.

We have recommended as the route for the North-Central Freeway the alignment identified in the Report as Route 11 and described as the Railroad-East, Sligo Route. The recommended location lies east if and generally parallel to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Rhode Island Avenue northward and northwestward to Silver Spring. North of Silver Spring, it enters Sligo Park and traverses the west side of the park to University Boulevard, where the studies for the Project terminate.

We appreciate the cooperation that has been accorded us by the members of your staffs, the staffs of the District of Columbia and the Maryland Divisions of the Bureau of Public Roads and the staffs of the departments and agencies in the District of Columbia and Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties who have made data available to us for use in preparation of this report.
From the North Central Freeway Engineering Feasibility Report
at page 5


A basic operation in the procedure established for the Feasibility Report is the determination of all practical route locations for the Freeway within the delineated Corridor. Map studies, examinations of aerial photography taken in the spring of 1963, field reconnaissances of the entire area, and a review of recent highway engineering and transportation reports pertinent to the Washington Metropolitan area all aided in the selection of the feasible route locations. Sufficient information regarding public and private utilities was secured from the municipal departments, agencies and utility companies to locate the major installations which might affect the location of the Freeway.

During this preliminary study phase, the Consultant called upon the representatives of the departments and agencies responsible for overall planning, location and design of highways and planning of transportation facilities. Among such agencies were the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the National Capital Regional Planning Council, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Capital Transportation Agency.

In all, approximately thirty-five study lines segments and line segment connectors were selected as feasible locations for preliminary analysis. These were then re-examined in the field and analyzed in sufficient detail to determine which deserved further study and which warranted no further consideration. The factors used in the comparative analyses of these preliminary study lines included, as they were applicable: conformity to traffic desires; lengths and geometrics; locations for interchanging with other major arterial routes, either existing or planned; relationships to urban renewal planning or development; relationship to the central business districts and the surrounding area; impacts of the facility on the surrounding area; effects on landmarks and significant buildings; the number of families displaced and the quality of housing affected; the effect of industrial takings as opposed to residential takings; conformity to neutral or established dividing lines; and the magnitude of utility interference. The study lines are shown on Plate V of this report.

In order to avoid conflict with such important private and public service institutions as the Washington Medical Center, Veterans’ Hospital, U.S. Soldier’s Home and similar facilities in the central area of the Corridor, the preliminary study lines within the District were concentrated mainly in corridors between 14th and 5th Streets NW, between Kansas and New Hampshire Avenue, NW, and adjacent to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. In Maryland, where such a concentration of such facilities does not exist, the alignments were widespread to explore all possibilities within the Corridor.

Route #11 at New Hampshire Avenue, veering away from the B&O railroad into Takoma Park

At page 14 it gives this description of the segment in the illustration above:

From New Hampshire Avenue, the line extends between the Masonic and Eastern Star Home and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and veers to the right at Kansas Avenue so as to follow a generally northerly direction parallel and east of North Capitol Street to the District of Columbia-Maryland Line. South of and before passing over Kansas Avenue, the line would affect several light industries and building material suppliers as well as well as individual and row dwellings of fair quality. North of Kansas Avenue, the line traverses a predominantly residential area immediately east of North Capitol Street which consists of duplex homes of fairly good quality. The western half of a large neighborhood playground and recreational area would also be taken. The residential area, which would be largely separated from the neighborhood it serves, could be retained and access restored.

I can not find any explanation in this report for this deviation from the B&O railroad corridor. Curiously "all possibilities within the Corridor" do NOT include the 1962 Kennedy Administration B&O route plan.

But the effect would be to tremendously inflame local North Central Freeway opposition.

Sam Abbott 1964

It took the subsequent 1966 study to present thing akin to the 1962 Kennedy Administration plan.

No comments: