Friday, April 17, 2015

David Alpert & Company Totally Out of Touch on I-395 Extension

David Alpert - developer shill
Loads up zoning meetings with sycophants for maximizing developer profits by eliminating including off street parking- yet is said to keep his own private auto at his residence in the DuPont Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Whereas popular sentiment favors keeping the Center Leg open, and overwhelmingly favoring its extension to the northeast via a tunnel, David Alpert has written:
But I noticed one very bad idea briefly mentioned on page 24 of the plan, the section on traffic. The neighborhood is very close to the intersection where the I-395 freeway comes out of the tunnel under the Capitol and dead-ends at New York Avenue. This is one of the last pieces to be built of the original DC interstate plan. The Northwest One master plan (from 2005, remember) says, "There is significant congestion along New York Avenue between the I-395 tunnel and North Capitol Street... This study recommends... the extension of the I-395 tunnel from its current terminus to Florida Avenue."
DC planners may have good ideas on smart growth, but at least in 2005 they still were stuck in the past on traffic. Adding more traffic lanes does not reduce congestion; at most it pushes it elsewhere. Extending the tunnel might allow New York Avenue to become a pedestrian-friendly road, but will also make I-395 even more appealing for drivers, increasing traffic volume there. If there are bottlenecks in the tunnel, more drivers may divert to the same city streets the plan aims to protect. And what about New York Avenue east of Florida Avenue? Enabling more traffic will make that area even more difficult to turn into walkable urban neighborhoods one day.
Continuing to surprise me, however, is the federal government: the National Capital Planning Commission conducted a charrette with Federal agencies and six consultants, which resulted in a report recommending the opposite of DC Planning's tunnel extension. Noting that many drivers use New York Avenue and 395 to cut through the District between Maryland and Virginia instead of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Beltway, the report advocates designing New York Avenue to serve DC residents instead of suburbanites. It recommends planners "encourage more smart, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development" and "create a corridor with a better balance of transportation modes (e.g. transit, walking, bicycling)."
For the New York/Florida Avenue intersection, the group suggests policies to "discourage drive-through, auto-oriented uses at the intersection" and "employ traffic-calming measures to slow traffic to a level compatible with the urban neighborhood." Most remarkably, the report recommends DC evaluate congestion pricing in the area, and even cutting I-395 back to end at Massachusetts Avenue (a road which leads to DC neighborhoods on both ends, rather than connecting directly to a Maryland freeway).
This is remarkably progressive thinking from a federal board. This is a major intersection that carries large amounts of traffic, but is also ugly and overly designed for cars. Most Departments of Transportation would only be able to think about increasing its traffic capacity, but NCPC is instead recommending restoring the area to a vibrant urban fabric. And it can be done while still enabling people to drive in and out of the city, just as people successfully do along the avenues to the north, which work relatively well as neighborhood main streets and commuter boulevards at the same time.

This completely ignores the reality that New York Avenue is the de facto extension of the Route 50 freeway from Maryland.

Ryan Avent:
Some would argue that the solution would be to run the freeway all the way through the city, reducing traffic impacts on non-freeway streets. This is a bad idea from an induced demand standpoint and also completely unrealistic. It would cost billions, and if the city was unable to run the freeway through during the golden age of highway construction, it damned sure wouldn’t be able to do it now.

Ryan Avent presents absolutely nothing supporting his view.  He has never discussed any of the various ideas for an I-395 tunnel extension, let alone the history of the planning nor the politics, and pretends that the U.S. Federal government is somehow too poor to spend a a tiny drop of the federal budget on a heavy excavation cut and cover tunnel about 1/4 of a mile in length, plus one with light excavation on an excess parking strip between the north side of New York Avenue and the south side of a sloped embankment to a giant railroad right of way.  He rests entirely upon the 'induced use' hypothesis spin that building something for people to use is a bad thing- a condemnation that would be the flip side of condemning something as being used by too few people as being cost effective.  IOW induced use means that many people use something- making it MORE rather than less cost effective.  Besides we already have the existing Center Leg which was designed with 8 lanes, of which only 4 are in use at its north end- scheduled to be made permanent by the Capitol Crossing Air Rights project's numerous support columns- a fact unreported in the newspaper and real estate development cheer leader media outlet.

We are supposed to take his word because he is a 'new urbanist'.

Digging that out for a box tunnel in that area would be immensely less complicated and thus less expensive than beneath the Avenue, and would be adaptable to an adjoining deck over the rail properties for supporting a new linear parkland and new real estate development.

None of these planning efforts went back to the previous plan in place when the extension was 'de-mapped' during the 1970s which had better geometry but which would have demolished over 500 Victorian era townhouses in the blocks between 4th Street and North Capitol Street.  Nor did the planning consider my alternative of a superior geometry transition tunnel arcing beneath the intersection of New jersey Avenue and N Street to a double stack configuration beneath O Street.

Its a shame yet telling that such writes as Alpert and Advent have apparently stuck their finger to the wind of whatever the hoary old blood medievalists want- screw the general public.

No comments: