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Author Topic: 7 transportation projects that would have changed Washington  (Read 2021 times)


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A neat WaPo article detailing 7 older projects that were never built, including links to old WaPo articles as far back as the 1960s detailing the projects:

1.  A 1962 proposal for elevated high-speed rail from Georgetown to Dulles.

2.  An extension of the L'Enfant Promenade southwest across the Washington Channel, with a bridge over the channel similar to the "Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy".

3.  The 2001 proposal for a separate Blue Line from Rosslyn east across the District.  This one (sorta) survives today in Metro's plans for a new "loop" around the downtown core.

4.  I-95 through the District and Maryland inside the Beltway.  Though it focuses mostly on the 1961 proposal, it includes a link to a 1973 WaPo article in which Maryland killed their part of I-95 inside the Beltway.  Amongst the interesting items mentioned with the cancellation were a proposal to route today's Green Line west of College Park and end at the 95/Beltway interchange, and the long-standing proposal to build a special connector road from the Beltway to College Park.  The article also mentions a proposal for a "connector freeway to link I-95 with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway north of the Beltway, near Beltsville.".  This was seen as needed to "prevent I-95 traffic from overburdening the congested Beltway while making its way to and from Washington".

5.  I-595 in Arlington County.  This was to follow US 1 between I-395 and the National Airport entrance (today's barely-signed VA 233).  A 1972 article noted the county board's support for the project, but by 1976 the county board had reversed direction and opposed the project.  Of interest in the 1976 article is that the board's 1973 approval was hingent on several conditions, and VDOT's predecessor ignored those conditions.

6.  The Three Sisters Bridge.  Proposed as I-266, it died in part due to a court injunction in 1970 just after construction began.  A linked 1967 article shows several bridge designs that were proposed, including an odd cable-stayed design with an arch over the roadway.  Not included in the description is the lengthy battle in Congress between Metrorail supporters and Rep. William Natcher.  Until late 1971, Natcher was successful in holding up Metro construction funds and made their release hingent on construction of the Three Sisters Bridge.  Natcher ultimately lost this battle when other House members gathered enough votes to overrule him.

7. Helicopter service from Union Station to Dulles and BWI.  This dates to the early 1980s.


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Re: 7 transportation projects that would have changed Washington
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 10:49:53 AM »

Thanks for linking this. I saw the headline on the Post's website but didn't have time to read it and then I forgot about it until your post.

#1: I still like the idea of high-speed rail from Dulles to DC (presumably Union Station), but I recognize it will never happen because the cost would be too astronomical these days. Even if they could build it, I'm sure the fare would be prohibitive. The Heathrow Express starts at £21 one-way these days, which at this morning's exchange rate is $35.47, so I'm sure if something like that could be built here it'd be considerably more expensive due to right-of-way acquisition costs.

#2: The bridge over the Washington Channel is an interesting one. The graphic is poorly-reproduced, but it looks like it would have crossed roughly where the Maine Avenue seafood market is located. It's an interesting proposal regardless of the bridge's appearance because East Potomac Park is not an easy place to get to or from if you're coming from the District. Access coming from Virginia via the 14th Street Bridge is pretty easy, but even if you take I-395 over the Case Bridge coming from the District you still have to follow a slightly convoluted path. Of course, that's somewhat inevitable due to the location on a (man-made) island coupled with the nearby 14th Street Bridge, the highway splitting in two to form 14th Street and the Southwest–Southeast Freeway, and the Jefferson Memorial adjacent to all that. I suppose if you get down to it, the proposed bridge over the channel would have been similar in concept to the "local span" of the new 11th Street Bridge.

#6: That arched cable-stayed span reminds me, conceptually at least, of a bridge in Dallas that's visible during the current theme song sequence to the TV show of the same name—a bit of research reveals it's called the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I find it a little amusing to see the similarity given the 1970s/1980s heyday of the Washington–Dallas rivalry sparked by the respective football teams' success in those years.

"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.


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Re: 7 transportation projects that would have changed Washington
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 10:58:17 PM »

I still think that building I-95 from the College Park Interchange to the DC line and bypassing all of US 1 in College Park would have a HUGE effect on that portion of PG County. I still believe that if the 1971 proposal had been made in 1961 that more of it would have been constructed, and although it might not have produced the Metro we have today, a more complete freeway network combined with the Red, Orange and Blue Lines would be an interesting thought exercise.

The separate Blue Line, also known as the M Street Subway, is more badly needed than ever with the arrival of the Silver Line. I like to dream about what effects that corridor would have if I-66 were built between the Blue Line at M Street and the Orange/Silver Lines near H Street...


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