Saturday, December 26, 2009

Washington Post Continues Lying About D.C. Freeways

The Washington Post continues its efforts to misinform the public about the feasibilities of completing the Washington, D.C. freeway system

From A Trip Within The Beltway:

From The Washington Post obituary of Peter S. Craig:

For more than two decades, Mr. Craig battled business interests, developers and members of Congress who wanted to build a bridge over the Potomac River to carry Interstate 66 into Georgetown and seven multilane highways, which would have destroyed more than 200,000 housing units, many in historically black sections of the city.

This 200,000 dwellings figure is something the Post repeats from its error ridden November 2000 article, which was refuted in the newsnet group misc.transport.road, by participants including Scott M. Kozel, and in a Post forum since made unavailable. It is something that the Post has simply ignored any requests for them to publish a correction, and something they grossly misreported with that November 2000 article's map with the false depiction of the I-95 Northeastern Freeway route.

The Posts' characterization is misleading not only in the number, but in presenting it as static, when in fact the proposed freeways underwent significant routing and design revisions to reduce impacts via the greater use of existing right of ways and of tunnels for pollution containment and land reclaimation. It mentions for instance a North Central Freeway routed via a new swath paralleling the Georgia Avenue corridor, displacing some 4,000 dwellings- in fact the variant of this 1959 proposal appearing within the initial North Central Freeway engineering report in 1964 with the most residential displacement was option #4 "Sherman, 8th Street, Ritchie, Sligo" with figures of 2,770 within D.C., and 440 within Maryland.

But it fails to tell the readers that such a concept was explicitly rejected by the Kennedy Administration, which instead proposed for that highway a tight alignment along the B&O Metropolitan Branch Railroad, which is Washington, D.C.'s sole north-south transport and industrial corridor located roughly mid way between the Potomac River and the eastern north-south portion of the I-494 Capital Beltway.

It fails to mention the 1962 Kennedy initiative, and blurs the history by failing to go into the history of the design evolution of the B&O Route North Central Freeway- for instance not mentioning how the North Central Freeway was effectively sabotaged via the initial engineering report -- dated October 1964 -- disregarding the Kennedy administration idea of the North Central Freeway strictly hugging the B&O railroad together by this report excluding it while presenting an upwards of 37 preliminary and alternative routes[- see plates] mainly nowhere near the railroad, with a recommended route that deviated sharply from the railroad through Takoma Park, Maryland, taking 471 houses in 1 mile where strictly following the railroad would be a fraction of that, that followed the railroad elsewhere just enough to help derail the highway altogether. It fails to mention that it took another two years for the supplementary report to appear that essentially followed the Kennedy idea, yet which was continually sabotaged by officials refusing to commit to it, and such highway "advocacy" as that of the Federal City Council, which only weeks earlier issued a report calling for the North Central Freeway's construction via the earlier 1964 design simply to save some time and money. According to a letter to Maryland Governor Spiro T. Agnew from Takoma Park resident Duncan Wall dated June 1, 1967- excerpt:

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 jurisdiction cons (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.

It furthermore fails to discuss the evolution of the I-95 Northeastern Freeway connection from the B&O Route to the I-95 'stumps' at the Beltway via the 195os decision to route it via the more sensitive closer watershed area of Northwest Branch Park in Maryland then that existing 250 foot wide right of way that conveniently parallels I-95 at and beyond the Beltway that would be ignored by official highway planning -- and apparently even the opposition -- until about 1971.

By so blurring the history, it increases the likelihood of confusion between say, 1,095, the figure for completing I-95 from the Maryland line to roughly along the B&O corridor though veering significantly into Brookland along 12th Street as per the 1960 proposal, with that of 1,166 for completing the entire system via the 1971 design, with figures of 148, 600+*, and 172 for the three areas along the downtown Inner Loop segment with displacement, and with a figure of 59 for completing I-95 from the Capital Beltway to just north of New York Avenue via the B&O-PEPCO combination. That figure of 59 includes the cluster of about 24 and about 5 along the northern side of New Hampshire Avenue flanking that large open field of the Masonic Eastern Star Home, just inside D.C., and the 34** at the western edge of Brookland. The I-70S portion of the B&O Route North Central Freeway as per the 1966 supplementary study would have displaced 303 dwellings [372 total NCF - 69 of I-95 segment] within D.C., and 163 *** in Maryland, a reduction from the figures of 720 and 590 for the infamous 1964 "recommended alternative" #11 "Railroad-Sligo East" proposal.

*the 600+ figure is reducible to as few as 34 via my superior alternative employing a some 1,400 radii transition cut and cover tunnel passing beneath the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and N Street, taking advantage of the convenient placement of the Dunbar HS building that seems to me as if it was situated for this very purpose, and transitioning to a multilevel tunnel beneath O Street to its junction with New York Avenue. This alternative entirely bypasses the stand of Victorian development extending from the southwest quadrant of New York Avenue and North Capital Street to New Jersey Avenue, minimally requiring displacement only within the area immediately west to the east side of 4th Street NW between N and M Streets, while sparing those prettier dwellings along M Street nearest to New Jersey Avenue, while providing a greater -- gentler -- tunneled turning transition radi then the 1971 design that had a 50 mph design speed.

**the 34 figure is reducible to about 11 if a portion of the highway is shifted to the railroad's immediate west side which has a generous amount of underutilized industrialized space. (However a development project just approved for this area includes a structure that is directly in the way -- IOW a 'demolition special' -- named the "Arts Walk". Meanwhile, further development along the railroad-industrial corridor promises to place 100s of new 'demolition special' dwellings, with official planning abandoning the idea of at least decking over a short stretch of the railroad.)

***the 163 figure is reducible qualitatively by a redesign that extends the idea of cut and cover tunnels that the 1966 supplementary study report shows alongside Montogomery Community College, further south beneath Takoma Avenue preserving the entire row of Victorian houses that face the railroad that both the 1966 and 1971 plans would have destroyed, along with preserving the sanctity of the landmark Cady Lee Mansion that the 1971 design displaced via replacing the 1966 plans configuration of 3 lanes in each direction flanking the railroad, with that instead placing both directions along the railroad's east side. (The 1966 plan's mainline would miss the houses to the north along Takoma Avenue but the open depressed design would push the replacement Takoma Avenue into the houses). However, the cir. 1966 construction of the Montgomery Gardens apartment complex -- located all the way up to the very edge of the RR's western side created a right of way chock at the expense of the Victorian structures that were built a century earlier with a sensible amount of set back allowing cut and cover highway tunnels.

Hence, if right of ways are preserved, and the designs are so further developed, completing I-95 through Washington, D.C. and all the way to the Capital Beltway in Maryland would displace as few as 74 dwellings- which was about the number that would have been taken for the D.C. Wisconsin Avenue corridor portion of the late 1950s NW Freeway.

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