Sunday, April 28, 2013

The War On Freeways

Washington City Paper - Missing the Point
Lame-stream Paradigm Ignores Washington, D.C.'s War On Freeways 


This was the era when slums were condemned and razed in the name of urban renewal, when neighborhoods in Southwest were wiped out to build Brutalist federal office buildings and the quadrant’s eponymous freeway. The push to replace houses with highways amounted to a declaration of war on the District—and particularly the areas around downtown that were home mostly to minorities and the elderly—by “the whole interstate highway lobby, which were basically the oil companies and the aggregate companies and people that built the highways and that sort of thing, car companies, everybody like that,” says Boasberg. Fortunately, residents and preservationists managed to stave off much of the damage by successfully protesting proposed freeways like the Inner Loop encircling the White House in a half-mile radius, the 10-lane North Central Freeway running from Union Station through Brookland to Silver Spring, and the Three Sisters Bridge spanning the Potomac near Georgetown, saving numerous residential areas and parks from destruction.
In the 1980s, with the most aggressive freeway plans shelved and Metro operating with additional construction well underway, the city made modest efforts to restore some high-speed roads to neighborhood-friendly uses. No sheriffs threatened to shoot out anyone’s wheels, but reactions occasionally did get violent. Tom Downs, who led the District Department of Transportation from 1981 to 1983 and now chairs the Metro board, recalls a particularly extreme response to his efforts to remove reversible lanes, which allowed for speedier commutes, from Reno Road NW.

Interjects a dogma rejected everywhere else, for the sake of a dogma- that no houses may be condemned for highways in Washington D.C. simply because we want no freeways rather than a bar against the demolition of houses per se, and projecting a mythos that transit construction required no displacement of dwellings, completely ignoring the design evolution of the downtown loop, and the shenanigans with the routing of the North Central Freeway.

Blurs history with zero mention of the route and design evolution, as the proposed freeway system had been extensively rerouted and redesigned by the latter 1960s reducing housing displacement about 90% - if saving houses mattered than at least mention the K Street tunnel plan that had been initially promoted by opponents of the earlier Florida Avenue U Street corridor open trench route plan 

 In the 1980s, with the most aggressive freeway plans shelved” is hyperbole    

Most ‘aggressive’ plans were shelvedearlier during the 1960s, the 1970s+ de-mappings were a session in feelgoodism due to the evolution of the proposed freeways, for instance reducing the residential displacement within Washington, D.C. of the I-95 Northeastern Freeway from about 1,100 to 59, comparing the 1960 and 1973 proposals.  Whereas the D.C. freeway system proposed in 1959 during the Eisenhower Administration would have displaced the dwellings of some 33,000 people, the subsequent proposed system during the KennedyAdministration reduced that to 5,400, with re-routing and route consolidation, for instance with I-70S and I-95 along D.C.’s main north-south railroad-industrial corridor.
"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."
Yet the initial such engineering report, which was supposed to be released in 1963, is delayed until October 1964, and disregards the use of the B&O corridor with an upwards of 37 routes either nowhere near the railroad, and with a recommended route partially following the railroad, but with deviations in the D.C. neighborhood of Brookland and further north in Takoma Park, MD.  That 1964 report was succeeded by a 1966 report that closely followed the B&O railroad, yet officials would waffle between that and the 1964 plan as late as 1968- sufficiently long to politically doom it with the USNCPC and the D.C. City Council reversing their support.

The Scuttling of JFK's B&O North Central Freeway
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. 
Note the disregard to the evoloution of the design and the routing.

The Washington City Paper "No War on Cars" that postulated that replacing homes with highways was a declaration of war could have at least mentioned the design evolution of the proposed highway system, like for instance the North Leg.

1959 North Leg - Florida Avenue - U Street Corridor


Likewise with cancelling the Center Leg northeastern extension -- the North Leg East -- that was to connect with the North Central - Northeast Freeway and the New York Avenue Industrial Freeway.


Reactions to highway planning included threats of violence.

The City Paper could do a far far better job of informing its readers.

The WP Lies About D.C. I-95 Route

The WP Continues To Lie About D.C. Freeways

1 comment:

C. P. Zilliacus said...

Hence the so-called East-West Divide.

East of the divide, there is almost no freeway access to downtown Washington, D.C. - with the exception of I-295 and (very recently) D.C. 295.

East of the divide, the jobs base has stagnated or even declined, west of the divide (and especially in Northern Virginia, along I-66, employment has done well, all the way from Arlington County out to Prince William and Loudoun Counties).