Friday, April 30, 2010

The Fallacy of NOT Building D.C. I-95

Questioning Reality


That things where not what they were popularly presented as being was something I began thinking about in 1972, at the age of 9, traveling with my family by automobile to Washington, D.C., and first encounter this paradox with regard to the I-95 ‘stumps’.

Supposedly, I-95 was stopped at the Beltway as a ‘white mans roads through black mans’ homes’.

Yet clearly juxtapositioned with this stopped highway is its physically clear existing right of way of a 250 foot wide power line right of way pointing towards this Union Station’s northern B&O Metropolitan Branch railroad industrial corridor.

I-95 ‘stub’ roadways just inside the Beltway, alongside parallel PEPCO right of way.

That was some ‘white mans road through black man’s home’ with its wide open 250 foot wide PEPCO power line right of way extending to some 1600 feet from the DC line at New Hampshire Avenue, before continuing another 1600 feet to connect with the B&O Railroad route.

Un-built inside the Beltway & D.C. I-95 via the PEPCO-B&O RR Route,

National Archives II at right

This is THE logical route for inside the Beltway I-95, for its use of existing right of way and for its proximity to New Hampshire Avenue and by extension the east west Missouri Avenue providing superior serviceability into northern Washington, D.C..

As planned by 1973, this route for inside the Beltway I-95 would have taken about 0 dwellings in Maryland, and clusters of 23 and 5 near the north side of New Hampshire Avenue, just inside D.C. flanking the open field of the Masonic Eastern Star Home at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue, and then another 34 at the western edge of Brookland.

The numbers are so low because of the extensive re-use of existing corridors and right of ways- namely the PEPCO right of way and the B&O Metropolitan Brach RR corridor with its lightly developed industrial strip providing the space to grade an 8 lane freeway, with little need to displace residential dwellings- with that for the I-95 segment of the B&O North Central Freeway limited to 34, as per a 1970 DCDPW design revision reducing it from the 69 of the 1966 design.

Completing I-95 all the way from its ‘stumps’ at the Beltway to New York Avenue, as designed by 1973 would have displaced a total of some 57 dwellings- a figure comparable to that taken for constructing the – mile long Inter Counter Connector – miles to the north in Maryland, or the reconstruction of the I-95/I-495 Beltway interchange in Virginia – while serving some 220,000 vehicles of people daily (the 1960 design meanwhile would have displaced some 1,095 alone).

See how the Washington Post LIES about this route:

Completing its continuations to the portions of the Washington, D.C. that were built – the I-95 North Leg East connecting to the I-95 Center Leg, and the I-295 East Leg connecting to the SE Freeway – as designed by 1971 would have respectively displaced 600+ and 172 dwellings.

This is where the most dwellings would have been torn down (and replaced with new housing).

Yet the biggest protests against “white mans roads through black mans homes” occurred at the site of the proposed I-266 Three Sisters Bridge alongside Georgetown University (that would have displaced 0 dwellings), and at the area of the B&O Route I-95 North Central Freeway in Brookland alongside Catholic University of America, that would have displaced 34 as per the 1970s and later planning, or 69 as per the 1966 plan.

Meanwhile, such issues of mitigation as the increasing use of the existing corridors – earlier planning took far more of a lets cut an all new swath through dwellings and parklands – and that of cut and cover tunneling, containing noise and pollution while reclaiming surface land for other uses, were oddly “forgotten.” (As a historian of the planning of Washington, D.C.’s – discuss matter of finding nothing about the 1966 plan’s proposal to cover the I-95 North Central Freeway alongside the main campus of Catholic University of America, nor any objection when the cover was deleted.)

Things took on a clearly Hegelian dialectics turn by the mid 1960s with the political undermining of the B&O route that had been proposed by the November 1, 1962 Kennedy Administration report.

1959 proposal with 3 separate northern radial freeways

1962 Kennedy Administration proposed Washington, D.C. interstate highway system with 2 into 1 “Y” route along the B&O RR

Initial North Central Freeway study: 1963-1964- making a mockery of JFK’s B&O Route NCF

John F, Kennedy letter June 1, 1963

“…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

Not included in the list of the controversial sections of the highway plans, and thus amongst those which 'can go forward as scheduled' would include the B&O Route North Central Freeway.

LINK- the subversion of JFK’s B&O North Central Freeway

LINK- North Central Freeway Most Needed Most Botched

LINK- North Central Freeway 1964 Highway Routing Mystery

Illustrations: Sam Abbott 1964

The 1964 ‘recommended route’ (Railroad East-Sligo) would have displaced 471 such houses within Takoma Park, Maryland, for the I-70S segment; this town was established by a developer Benjamin Franklin Gilbert in 1883 along the then recently constructed B&O Metropolitan Branch RR into northern Washington. D.C.; the 1.1 mile segment of this 1964 plan had it deviate ¼ of a mile away from said RR upon a longer more out of the way route then simply following the RR: far more invasive then necessary for creating the North Central Freeway.

The negative popular response that would subside 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 waffeling between the 1966 and 1964 designs, as late as 1968; included in that was 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.

As Governor of our State, you are in position better than we as private citizens to require straightforward answers from the Bureau of Public Roads. You can also insure that the Maryland State Roads Commission refuses to go along with divisive proposals which these communities will regard as cause for new protests.

You can make yourself even better appreciated here by doing both, and by supporting the earliest and most extensive development of rail rapid transit. Will you do so?

The North Central Freeway segment through Takoma Park, Maryland was for I-70S (I-270); the I-95 segment was further south.

Such mis-managment of the highway program made perfect sense when the route is along the railroad passing alongside Catholic University of America, and with the most logical connecting segment to the power line right of way -- the PEPCO route officially unconsidered until 1971 and only adopted for a few months in 1973 prior to the extension's outright cancellation that July -- running through the Masonic Eastern Star property at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue NE.)

LINK- RR Industry law firm Covington & Burling paid ECTC to riot at DC City Council

The only place along the route where I am aware of a solitary tree standing in the middle of the route is that within the field of the Masonic Eastern Star Home at 6000 New Hampshire Avenue NE

Forgotten in all of the group ‘think’ regarding doctrinaire hatred of urban freeways and love of urban railway REGARDLESS OF DESIGN*, is the latent monumental beauty expressed by Union Station as the headpiece of a northeastern linear park atop a set of railway and highway tunnels literally pointed at the head of the beast

(*aka the existing status quo that an underground highway with parkland atop is bad but placing the traffic simply upon the surface streets or way out on the Beltway is good, along with that of splitting the poorer areas of DC apart by surface railways, along with a disproportionate amount of the traffic through SE of the Anacostia River.)

I call it ‘Grand Arc’

Alas, the political pyramid favors blotting this potential majestic thrust in favor of apparently piece-meal appearing projects, for this helps obscure comprehending JD’s ‘King of the world’, by creating the illusion that the government is too weak to organize its Capital City. Note not only the new buildings atop, but also alongside, particularly at the picture’s bottom.

Urban Highways Underground

1 comment:

Lisatella said...

Hi Douglas,
Is there an e-mail address where I can get in touch with you? Drop me a line if you get a chance:

Lisa Rowan