Monday, December 29, 2014

FHWA BOGUS Finding of No Significant Impacts for I-395 Air Rights Project

The U.S. FHWA document "Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-395 Air Rights Project" FAILS to acknowledge the significant impact of the Capitol Crossing Air Rights Project in permanently blocking off 50% of the I-395 8 lane sunken right of way.  This includes pinching the median shoulders, impacting safety and the feasibility of the yet to be built freeway connections at its northern end; and the further impacts upon livability and future development potential along the New York Avenue corridor.

Christopher Lawson
 Analysis of Significant Impacts 40CFR 1508.27
(b) intensity
The degree to which the proposed action affects public health or safety
The degree to which the action may establish a precedent for future action with significant effect or represents a decision in principle about a future consideration

The "Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-395 Air Rights Project"statement neglects to mention the permanent pinch of the I-395 Center Leg design right of way, placing walls with load bearing columns directly within the right of way, impacting flexibility for accommodating connections rather than keeping I-395 forever truncated at New York Avenue.

I-395 Air Rights Project Gives Away 50% Of The Right Of Way

Neglects to mention safety.  Fails to mention the permanent pinch of the median shoulders.

Pinched Median Shoulders

It also neglects to mention the permanent of the overall right of way, forever denying the use of the outer 2 lanes in each direction as if assuming that I-395 would never be extended, nor that the connecting east-west interstate highway, the I-66 Tunnel primarily beneath K Street would ever be built.

Both the I-395 (once I-95) and I-66 extensions were official plans.

Each underwent massive redesign from unpopular earlier planning to comply with concerns over building displacement and permanent impacts by being re-routed and redesigned as tunnels primarily beneath existing street right of way.

I-66 Tunnel with interchange with Center Leg

The northernmost Center Leg Tunnel segment was designed to connect with these later plans, with a pair of 3 lane connections for the I-395 extension and a pair of one lane connections to the I-66 Tunnel.  Though appearing to be a 4 lane facility, the northern I-395 Center Leg Tunnel is actually an 8+ lane design with non-load-bearing knockout walls that were added in a second construction phase, as noted by the expansion joints visible atop on K Street.

I-395 Center Leg Built for 8 Lanes

Both the I-66 Tunnel and the I-395 (I-95) extensions were 'de-mapped' during the 1970s.
On December 29, 1976, Mayor Walter E. Washington requested the withdrawal of two more segments from the Interstate System: (a) the portion of I-66 between I-266 and I-395, and (b) the I-266 Three Sisters Bridge over the Potomac River to the Virginia State line. The two route portions total 2.50 miles.

On April 29, 1977, Federal Highway Administrator William M. Cox and Urban Mass Transportation Acting Administrator Charles F. Bingman approved the withdrawal of the two routes under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 103(e)(4).

In accordance with Section 103(e)(4), DC's unobligated balance of IC funds was decreased by approximately $103.5 million accomplished by decreasing DC's IC apportionment for FY 1977.
On August 7, 1978, Mayor Walter E. Washington requested the withdrawal of portions of the East leg and North Leg Freeways (I-295 and I-395).
On September 8, 1978, Federal Highway Administrator Karl S. Bowers and Urban Mass Transportation Administrator Richard S. Page approved the withdrawal under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 103(e)(4). The two route portions total 4.70 miles.
In accordance with Section 103(e)(4), DC's unobligated balance of IC funds was decreased by approximately $130.1 million accomplished by decreasing DC's IC apportionment for FY 1977.
The reasons given for this by Peter S. Craig, a one time Covington & Burling attorney on behalf of the "Committee of 100 On The Federal City" were: 
"... Section 137(b) of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973 (codified as 23 U.S.C. 103(4)), which authorized the Governor (Mayor Washington, in the case of D.C.), and the responsible locally elected officials (the D.C. City Council) to jointly request the U.S. Department of Transportation to transfer federal aid, formerly earmarked for freeways, for 80% of the cost of transit improvements. Such fund transfers may occur on either of two alternatives: 
First, that the Interstate segment being deleted "is not essential to the completion of a unified and connected interstate System." 
Second, and independently of the first reason it, freeways may be deleted and the federal aid transferred to mass transit -- even if the freeway segment might be deemed essential for a "unified and connected Interstate system" if such freeway segment "would not be essential after completion of one or more substitute public mass transit projects." See 23 C.F.R. 476.304(3).
(5) North Leg-West Section of Inner Loop (K Street Freeway)(I-66). This Council already has urged that Virginia abandon I-66 inside the Beltway in Virginia. Consistent with this action, I-66, within the city should also be scrapped.

(6) North Leg-East Section (Center Leg and I-66 to East Leg). Also not essential."

A finding of "not essential" means the I-395 being forever truncated at the intersection of 4th Street and New York Avenue NW: a situation not meeting the definition of a unified and connecting interstate system, that somehow pretends the WMATA rail system not as a supplement but as a replacement for somehow handling the mass of vehicular traffic to and from the northern edn of I-95 along New York Avenue.

The Craig memo additionally gets it wrong about I-66: since Virginia DID build inside the Beltway I-66 through Arlington, than constructing the I-66 Tunnel within Washington, D.C. is essential for a unified and connected interstate highway system, along with the I-395 (I-95) connection-continuation, along New York Avenue to MD 50 and/or the general JFK B&O Route , and arguably as well the I-295 East Leg Inner Loop to RFK Stadium and the SE Freeway.

The "Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-395 Air Rights Project" completely neglects the matter of the unbuilt freeway segments that were so "de-mapped".  It further neglects the matter of more recent official planning starting in 1996 with a report by via the DC Mayor's Office under Marion Barry for an I-395 New York Avenue Tunnel within and beneath that Avenue's existing 134 foot right of way showing a 4 lane extension, though with sufficient space for a 6 lane version with no reason given for the arbitrary restriction to only 4 lanes total.

1996 I-395 New York Avenue Tunnel

NOT building the I-66 Tunnel and the I-395 (I-95) negatively impacts the neighborhoods along New York Avenue and additionally adversely affects development potential along that New York Avenue corridor: additional factors NOT considered by this FHWA "Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-395 Air Rights Project".

Under 23 USC 103, these highways can be 'remapped'.
 (4) Interstate system designations.—
(A) Additions.— If the Secretary determines that a highway on the National Highway System meets all standards of a highway on the Interstate System and that the highway is a logical addition or connection to the Interstate System, the Secretary may, upon the affirmative recommendation of the State or States in which the highway is located, designate the highway as a route on the Interstate System.
(B) Designations as future interstate system routes.—
(i) In general.— Subject to clauses (ii) through (vi), if the Secretary determines that a highway on the National Highway System would be a logical addition or connection to the Interstate System and would qualify for designation as a route on the Interstate System under subparagraph (A) if the highway met all standards of a highway on the Interstate System, the Secretary may, upon the affirmative recommendation of the State or States in which the highway is located, designate the highway as a future Interstate System route.
(ii) Written agreement.— A designation under clause (i) shall be made only upon the written agreement of each State described in that clause that the highway will be constructed to meet all standards of a highway on the Interstate System by not later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the agreement.
(iii) Failure to complete construction.— If a State described in clause (i) has not substantially completed the construction of a highway designated under this subparagraph by the date specified in clause (ii), the Secretary shall remove the designation of the highway as a future Interstate System route.
(iv) Effect of removal.— Removal of the designation of a highway under clause (iii) shall not preclude the Secretary from designating the highway as a route on the Interstate System under subparagraph (A) or under any other provision of law providing for addition to the Interstate System.
The FHWA "Finding of No Significant Impact for the I-395 Air Rights Project" signed by D.C. Division Administrator is a false document.

As the I-395 Air Rights Project rests upon this document, it should be barred from further construction, until its design is modified to fully respect the 8 lane plus shoulders Center Leg right of way.

Also see:

Friday, December 26, 2014

I-395 Pinch Continued

new 'air rights' or rather 'air wrongs' project proposed
for northern end of Washington, D.C. I-395:
The Washington Global Trade Center (WGTC)

Project website:

There are no internet available images of this project's impacts upon the I-395 right of way.

But it doubtlessly would infringe upon its right of way akin to the air wrongs 'Capitol [double] Crossing' project to the south, limiting it to only half of its design capacity, while blocking any connections to an I-66 K Street-New York Avenue Tunnel that its self would be valuable for serving new development to the east along the New York Avenue corridor.

NO project for building atop this I-395 segment should be considered prior to the completion of this highways extension to the northeast, plus the connections to the above-mentioned I-66 K Street Tunnel.

This planning in its current form is a continuation of the ongoing travesty of Washington D.C. planning corruption done in total disregard of the interstate highway network, that should be getting America to ask what is wrong with the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation in neglecting the planning of the area interstate highway system?

Newcomer Development Residents Threaten Transportation Improvements

My fears of new development projects as a serious political threat to much needed transportation infrastructure improvements are being played out with the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel improvement.
That railroad tunnel is over 100 years old and is a major transport link, in need of reconstruction with greater clearances to allow doublestacked railcars
Yet it is being challenged mainly by local residents in immediately adjacent dwelling projects constructed in only the past decade or so, particularly by developers with an infamous disregard for society' transport needs, such as EYA: already infamous for its "Capitol Square" project placing a row of 28 townhouses next to the SW Freeway complicating its improvement widening and tunnelfication, and now with regard to the Virginia Avenue railroad tunnel with the "Capitol Quarter" project.
 EYA 'Capitol Quarter' with SE Freeway-Virginia Avenue Tunnel corridor at left
photo by JD

I blame the EYA development company. Really, I do.

Why? Because the folks yelling the loudest about this are the ones who paid 700k plus in 2008 to buy one of EYAs town houses at Capitol Quarter.

In late 2007/ early 2008 when EYA started construction, CSX had already been talking about this for nearly 2 years. I was interested in buying, and actually asked an EYA sales person at their sales center what the schedule was for the CSX improvements and I was led to another room away from the interested buyers and given some line in hushed whispers about how they didn't know anything and the work would probably never happen. I asked the question a week later on a blog EYA had set up to discuss the development, and the question disappeared the next day. Basically, EYA wanted nothing to remotely interfere with their sales and so they weren't going to say anything about a enormous multi year infrastructure project to take place mere feet from dozens of their homes they were trying to sell for 700k and up.

Fast forward 6 years, and we have a bunch of people making any specious argument they can make so the value of their now 900k homes aren't affected. CSX doesn't owe anyone anything. It's their tunnel and it isn't their fault you bought a 700K house feet from it.

And to those of you complaining that “ no plan”has been put forward, you are either blind or willfully ignorant. There have been 4 plans put forward, and they are all under discussion right now. Once the final plan is decided upon, they will then start the final design and you can have all the detail you like. Quit making specious arguments and cladding them in your willful ignorance.
Newcomer disregard for long term transportation planning is here being taken advantage of by EYA builders, according to the above statement being guilty of censoring information

This disregard is being further facilitated by the increasingly obviously arrogant "Committee of 100 on the Federal City" which has long promoted the idea of wealthier neighborhoods getting over upon the less affluent, and upon society in general.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rhode Island Avenue Area Encroachment Continued

Yet another thoughtlessly placed developer project
proposed to chock the I-95 B&O Grand Arc Corridor

Read more about Grand Arc:

B&O railroad shown at lower left 
this turkey is a demolition special!,+Washington,+DC+20018/@38.9224752,-76.9938541,3a,52.5y,332.64h,89.36t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sNIZ2BbMO1zISPK58M9utMQ!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89b7c7f61bea320b:0xf102296a55ff9a40!6m1!1e1

Douglas Development is planning two six-story residential buildings near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro with a combined 295 units, according to a presentation made to ANC 5B this week.
The project at 805-809 Channing Place NE (map) includes a modern build-out of an existing industrial building as well as new construction. The existing building will become a six-story, 156-unit residence with six parking spaces; the new building will have 139 units and 60 parking spots. [NOTE only 66 automobile parking spots for 295 dwelling units!]  Neither project includes retail. The two projects would be connected by a pedestrian walkway topped by a pool and have large shared amenity spaces, including what’s labeled in the plans as a yoga studio, a juice bar and a fitness area. Eric Colbert & Associates, GTM Architects and Parker Rodriguez worked on various aspects of the project design.

Incoming ANC commissioner Joe Barrios indicated the project is a matter-of-right development that is likely to move forward without further approvals, and suggested it may be completed by early 2016.

“I am thrilled that blighted industrial land is being converted to much better use within short walking distance of the Rhode Island Avenue metro stop,” Barrios said. “This in turn will help fuel the revitalization of the Rhode Island Avenue corridor that many people in our community have been working on.” 

Joe Barrio seems ignorant of this corridor's significance.

We have plenty of dwellings.

But no radial highways within northern Washington, D.C.

And no northern linear park-lands in NE, as with Glover Archbold and Rock Creek Parks, with the nearest thing to such the McMillan Park Water Filtration Vaults likewise being threatened with needless development supported by the astro-turf "smart growth" lobbyists and the assorted new urbanist suck-ups.

Don't build I-95 quite like they were going to do during the 1960s along the railroad uncovered.

Rather build I-95 as part of a holistic project addresses the parallel railroad as well, and even re-surface the long buried Tiber Creek, somewhat akin to Madrid's M-30 project.

And STOP proposing the construction of new development projects placed too close to this railroad corridor.

Why can't the federal government take some initiative and treat Washington DC as the Nation's Capital, rather than some local medievalist fiefdom?

This Douglas Development project -- if built -- cries out for eminent domain tear me down!

Its yet another example of 'new urbanist'/new medievalist sell out to needless real estate developer profiteering.

JFK 1962

 Grand Arc I-95
Way more needed then yet more real estate development chocking our transport-park corridors

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Open Letter To Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Feds, DDOT and Congress

Dear Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, The U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Authority and Members of the U.S. Congress;

It is good that the proposed temporary closure of the I-395 segment was averted for the construction of the Capitol Crossing I-395 Air Rights Project..

But are you aware that the Capital Crossing I-395 Air Rights Project PERMANENTLY shuts off 50% of the  I-395 right of way?

 Capitol Crossing Center Leg Right of Way PINCH
Perhaps not, as that fact has not been reported in any of the newspaper or real estate cheerleader web sites.  This includes so far the site Greater, Greater Washington.

That freeway was designed and built with a 8 lane right of way plus shoulders.

I-395 Center Leg showing extra capacity

That includes its northern tunnel segment, built from 1975 to 1978, but unopened until a 1983-1986 finishing project was completed, after the cancellation of the extensions.  Hence it includes non-load bearing walls to block off the extra space for storage space for such things as the Lions from the Taft Bridge.  Supposedly I-395 is to end simply at New York Avenue, dumping its traffic there.  That can be seen by an aerial showing the expansion joints upon K Street that mark off its 4 lane southbound, 5 lane northbound and one lane northbound on-ramp.

Note the expansion joints showing the true capacity potential

Non load-bearing wall- I-395 northbound

That is because the Center Leg was not supposed to simply end at New York Avenue making that road itself the main artery.

 Northern Center Leg Tunnel with connections to the northeast and to the west.

Rather it was to have continuations.

I-395 was to continue as planned through the 1970s alongside New York Avenue, previously being designated as I-95.

And there was to be a freeway heading due west as an extension of I-66.

Planning for these urban highways dated back at least to 1955 for plans that were largely unpopular for their potential building displacement and permanent impacts.

The original 1955 Plan

Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis (ECTC) poster 
showing the 1955 Center Leg-North Leg routing, 
plus the highly politicized and sabotaged B&O North Central Freeway

Above ECTC poster close-up of names showing Marion Barry

However the design of the built northernmost Center Leg segment was to accomodate later plans designed to largely avoid these displacement problems and to avoid the permanent disruptions via being built as cut and cover tunnels.

The crosstown I-66 link by the mid to late 1960s has been envisioned as a tunnel entirely beneath K Street for most of its length, with its western connection beneath Washington Circle and a brief stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue: a plan initially promoted by opponents of the 1955 plan such as Elizabeth Rowe.

The I-395/I-95 continuation meanwhile had been redesigned to a cut and cover tunnel starting  alongside New York Avenue, limiting a cutting of a new swath for the 3 to 4 block segment from 4th Street NW to North Capitol Street and 1st Street NE displacing about 600 dwellings (those between North Capital and 1st Street NE were torn down under the administration of Anthony Williams), plus 148 for the I-66 connection westward to Mt Vernon Square.   These were the plans featured in the November 1971 DeLeuw, Cather and Harry Weese study "District of Columbia Interstate Highway System".

Center Leg-North Leg Interchange
DeLeuw, Cather, with Harry Weese "District of Columbia Interstate System" November 1971

These extensions avoided almost all of the displacement of the 1955 planning.

Yet they were 'demapped' during the 1970s.  That was primarily for the sake of jumpstarting the funding for the WMATA rail system which had been design together with the freeway system, along with two other ideas: that private automobiles would become obsolete by the 1990s when it was envisioned that the world was going to run out of petroleum (with zero consideration of alternative fuels nor electric propulsion); and assuming that Virginia was not going to build their inside the Beltway segment of I-66 which was in fact completed and opened by 1982.

In the years since, an alternative design for the I-395 tunnel continuation was promoted through the Office of the D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry, who himself was a 1960s era activist against earlier planning efforts, known as the Ron Linton plan.  That was for a tunnel not alongside but rather beneath New York Avenue, thus avoiding the 600 or so dwelling displacement of the plans in the above mentioned 1971 plans.

That plan featured a total of 4 lanes within a street right of way sufficiently wide to accommodate 6 lanes with shoulders.  It also featured a pair of one lane connections to the west into an underground loading and perhaps parking area of the new D.C. Convention Center.  This 1996 study additionally included consideration of new WMATA rail line for the New York Avenue corridor, as a shot of life for new development opportunities along the New York Avenue corridor towards the Maryland border.  Although that would also be true for a revived crosstown I-66 K Street Tunnel, such was not included, as the 1996 study simply viewed the right of way beneath New York Avenue only for I-395.

This 1996 'Ron Linton' tunnel was favorably received, but was formally allowed to languish owing to the idea that a nation as wealthy as the United States of America was somehow too poor to afford even such a tunnel beneath New York Avenue to the vicinity of Florida Avenue and the B&O-CSX-WMATA Red Line railroad corridor.  Strangely it did not even consider the idea of swinging this tunnel alongside New York Avenue in the area to the east, despite the ample brownfields area.

Even more strangely, an alternative design concept for an I-395 was never considered: one that would avoid the traffic construction disturbances of a cut and cover tunnel beneath New York Avenue between New Jersey Avenue and Florida Avenue NE without an alternative means of routing traffic, displacing as few as 33 dwelling (a 95% reduction from the 1971 plans) while providing vastly superior geometrics, and accommodating an I-66 K Street  New York Avenue Tunnel, that I devised as a private citizen: a tunnel arcing beneath the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and N Street and outwards as a double stack beneath O Street, taking advantage of the corner of the open recreation field of Dunbar High School.

The existing 2009-2001 planning makes ZERO consideration of any of this.

It even pinches the Center Leg median further than an unjustified restriction to only 2 lanes per direction by virtually eliminating the media shoulder.

It gives away this existing design flexibility to further maximize developer profits, simply assuming that there shall never be an extension from I-395, either to the west or the northeast.

Again- this permanent right of way constriction was not reported to the public by the news media.

Though the project was planned with the idea of keeping the I-395 open through the construction, it is like the developer was recently proposing its closure in order to largely prevent people from seeing for themselves the right of way constriction until completed.

That and the fact that the project's web site fails to show the portion of the plans with the right of way constriction further suggests such a cover-up, until it is too late to change without massive expense.

What is the public going to think about the lack of attention given to stopping the proposed permanent I-395 right of way pinch, following all of the attention given to the proposed temporary closure?

However, it is not too late- yet.

Suspend this project now, until it is redesigned to fully respect the sunken I-395 8 lane plus shoulders right of way.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Virginia-Transurban Toll Lane Extortion Racket

Imagine missing $28.30 in tolls and being held up for $9,548.30

Or $36 and being held up for $17,000

All because one is accused of having an inadequate easy pass balance, or somehow not mounting the unit correctly, supposedly.

Toll lane operator Transurban is extorting people for huge sums of money, abusing the courts that SHOULD have thrown these exorbitant claims out.

Transurban contact for 495 Express Lanes:
Phone: 855-495-9777

Monday, December 22, 2014

SE 'Boulevard' Opens

Photo by JD
The SE Boulevard is essentially a narrowing of the existing-former SE Freeway segment between the 11th Street Bridges and Barney Circle/Pennsylvania Avenue.

Photo by JD

It is alas NOT connected to the remaining SE Freeway by a grade separated interchange as God intends, but rather a traffic light intersection, as its previous direct correction was eliminated with the option chosen for recent project to replace the 11th Street Bridges.

Meanwhile planning continues upon this roadway's ultimate configuration, with three options under formal consideration.

Of these, Options A and C show a decked over space to be used for underground bus parking.  Such could theoretically be used for an underground freeway that would essentially tie into to the existing pair of underpasses beneath Barney Circle.

Option A cross section

 Option C cross section

Option B meanwhile shows such space wasted via being simply filled in with dirt.  however any of these options could ultimately accommodate a future underground freeway, though Option B would require the greatest construction disruption by requiring excavating the streets rather than simply reuse the underground parking areas that would be provided by Options A and C.

NONE of these options show a true waterfront connection/continuation of the street grid.   All simply provide pedestrian-bicycle only continuations of the three north south streets, 13th , 14th and 15th Streets SE.  None provide a proper raising of the M Street right of way to meet the east-west boulevard, and with only a single pedestrian-bicycle path crossing the otherwise uncovered railway.

Such a proper build-out to the waterfront is thwarted by the current planning for the 1333 M Street real estate development project.

That project could and should be redesigned to accommodate not only at connecting a raised extension of eastern M Street into the new SE Boulevard, but also perhaps an extension of Virginia Avenue SE to a redesigned Water Street.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Current I-395 Center Leg Air Rights ROW PINCH- Shoddy Consideration & Misrepresentations

Developer give-way ZERO consideration of I-395 flexibility
Needlessly assumes I-395 will never have an extension,
nor consideration for an I-66 crosstown tunnel

This right of way PINCH is unreported in every article that I have seen on this project outside of A Trip Within the Beltway.

I-395 Center Leg Capital Crossing right of way pinch
from 4 to only 2 lanes per direction

"Typical I-395 cross section"  page 10 2009 Air Rights EIS
DDOT's behavior here reeks of behind the scenes deals and bribes.

Their weird silence, stonewalling of the WP requests for information, and then their idiotic stance that since it's part of 395 that they can't weigh in was absurd.

New email message to   --  December 12, 2014
I received no reply to my email of November 21, 2014.

Does your project use the designs shown in the 2009 report that pinch the I-395 right of way?

What is the width of the northbound and southbound mainlines once the project is completed?


The underground I-395 Center Leg was designed to feature 4 lanes in each direction within the tunnel segments on both the north and the south sides of the open trench that is the site of the current air rights project.

As the segment to the south may have issues of inadequate merge-split lanes it may be viewed as a 3 through lane plus one axillary lane in each direction facility, unless the outer walls are re-located outwards beneath the mall.

However, the northern tunnel being a newer design and with its potential merge area to the north of K Street, is properly an 8 through lane tunnel.

Center Leg trench looking north showing the unused righthand lanes- 
the jersey barrier separates the 3rd lane which is now used as a shoulder from the 4th and rightmost lane which remains in its original concrete with the original right-hand shoulder in asphalt.

Center Leg northbound transition to the southern portal of the northern tunnel segment at Massachusetts avenue- note the non-load-bearing wall coordining the space off for the 2 outer lanes

The North Segment:

The segment to the north, between Massachusetts avenue and K Street NW, was built between 1975 and 1978, with a finishing project from 1983 to 1986.  It features a design for a full 4 lanes in each direction, plus shoulders, plus space for an additional - 5th - northbound lane for a left lane ramp to the planned crosstown I-66 Tunnel that would have been under K Street between Franklin Square and Washington circle.  Additionally it features a separate one lane northbound on ramp that would have merged with the northbound mainline to the north of its northern portal at K Street.   Although what people may see today is only a 2 lane plus shoulder in each direction tunnel, that is only because of walls that were added as part of the 1983-1986 finishing project- as the K Street Tunnel and the I-395 extension to the northeast were both canceled once the initial project was underway. These walls are not load-bearing, as can be seen in the expansion joints visible on the surface of K Street and thus could be easily removed.

Northern Center Leg Tunnel 
showing pair of 3 lane continuations to 1971 plan for freeway extension to the northeast, with pair of one lane connections towards I-66 K Street Tunnel

Note the expansion joints on the surface of K Street marking the load-bearing walls.
Note the unused northbound on-ramp, with its merge area north past the tunnel's portal at K Street.

This design with the 4 southbound lanes and the 5 northbound lanes was designed to connect to a pair of 3 lane connections to the northeast, and a pair of one lane connections to the west.

The South Segment (The Mall Tunnel)

The Center Leg tunnel segment to the south, known as the Mall Tunnel, extending from D Street NW to just south of C Street SW,  was constructed between 1966 and 1973.

Unlike the newer northern tunnel segment, the older southern tunnel segment has no afterthought walls, and features an unobstructed space for 4 lanes in each direction.  The site DCRoads, by Steve Anderson states that each direction is 66 feet wide- which would allow 4 lanes at 12 feet each - 48 feet -- plus 18 feet for shoulders.

That appears to be the case with the northbound carriageway.  It starts at its southern end just south of C Street SW where it intercepts a 3 lane roadway and a single lane on-ramp from D Street SW that converge into a 4 lane roadway just inside the tunnel.   (The 3 lane roadway intercepts a single lane for the I-395 northbound transition from the SW Freeway, and a 2 lane roadway that intercepts one lane apiece from the westbound SE freeway and from South Capitol Street).

These 4 northbound lanes continue northward beneath the Mall before 'loosing' the rightmost lane with the two lane off-ramp at C Street, with the second to right hand lane being an 'indecision' lane where one can take that off-ramp or continue upon the center leg now as the outermost of 3 northbound lanes next to an extra wide shoulder that is subsequently striped as a 4th northbound lane.

Further north in the vicinity of the Mall Tunnel's northern portal at D street NW, the right hand two lanes split off from the mainline to the 2 lane exit ramp at Georgetown Law Center, leaving two northbound lanes in the trench with the space for the 2 additional lanes unused.

The Mall Tunnel's southbound carriageway appears to be somewhat narrower at its northern end beneath the Labor Department Building.   There, it intercepts the two open lanes from the trenchway, picking up a 3rd lane from the southbound on-ramp from 3rd Street, re-aligned from its original design, with an extra wide right-hand shoulder that though marked by an overhead light, is unused as a 4th lane, apparently to provide extra space for the subsequent southbound on-ramp from D Street just south of the labor Department Building.

Ideally, the Mall tunnel should have its walls eventually relocated outwards in the area south of the Labor Building to allow a continuous 5th lane between the southbound on and of ramps, as well as perhaps providing somewhat wider shoulders. Without doing that it may be best viewed as a 6 through lane plus 2 auxiliary lane facility.   If the space beneath the Labor Department Building is considered inadequate for a proper merge area for the on-ramp currently scheduled for reconstruction, than a new design that carries that on-ramp in a separate tube carrying it past the Labor Department Building ought to be considered.  THAT would thus allow maintaining the southbound off-ramp that is to be eliminated by the current air rights project: its elimination is another stupid idea that assumes the freeway shall never be extended.  (Rather, that ramp should be retained.)  Such actions would become more needed once a northern extension from the Center Leg is constructed.

The 2009 Center Leg Air Rights Study fails not only for misrepresenting the Center Leg capacity, but also for assuming that the freeway shall never be extended, nor that an I-66 K Street Tunnel project would never be built.

It fails to consider the feasibility of either project, even as a 1996 design for a New York Avenue tunnel employing that avenue's existing right of way, and shown with 2 lanes in each direction is actually wide enough for 3 lanes in each direction.  That plan, by using the existing right of way beneath New York Avenue, would avoid the displacement of 600+ dwellings along that Avenue's north side between New Jersey Avenue and North Capitol Street.

1996 'Ron Linton' New York Avenue Tunnel proposal for 4 lane tunnel 
within right of way sufficient for 6 lane version

Both the 1996 I-395 extension proposal and the I-66 K Street Tunnel would use existing right of way.

An alternative concept for a tunneled extension arcing beneath the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and N Street and continuing as a double stack beneath O Street meanwhile would only displace about 33 or 34 dwellings while providing vastly superior geometric operationabilty then either the 1971 or 1996 plan.

Yet the 2009 EIS fails to consider flexibility for any of these proposals with its willful and unnecessary pinching of the I-395 Center Leg right of way to a fixed 2 lanes in each direction.  It even pinches the median shoulder, trading away safety, simply to maximize developer profits.
If people can get so upset over the recent developer suggestion to entirely shut down the Center Leg segment north of the Labor Department Building, why than should they be so complacent about the permanent giveaway of 50% of its right of way?

And why should this permanent right of way giveaway go so unreported by newspapers as The Washington Post, numerous real estate development blogs, including of course Greater, Greater Washington, which has so far declined A Trip Within The Beltway suggestion to include it in their breakfast links recently?