Interstate 395

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Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) east of the 7th Street SW overpass. I-395 turns north along the Center Leg Freeway at the adjacent exchange with I-695 (Southeast Freeway). Photo taken 08/01/05.

Interstate 395 replaced the original route of I-95 north from Springfield, Virginia to Washington, DC. Designated in 1977 when plans for I-95 north of the Center Leg Freeway were cancelled, I-395 follows all of the Southwest Freeway and the completed portion of the Center Leg Freeway in Washington. I-95 shifted from these freeways to overtake I-495 along the eastern half of the Capital Beltway also in 1977.

Interstate 395 serves the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, while passing underneath the U.S. Capitol area and National Mall in central Washington. The highway ends unceremoniously at U.S. 50 (New York Avenue) eastbound.

Interstate 395 D.C. Guides

Interstate 395 spans the Potomac River amid three bridges. The 14th Street Bridge consists of the 1950-built Rochambeau Bridge with four lanes northbound and the southbound four-lane George Mason Memorial Bridge constructed in 1962. A third span, opened in 1972, parallels the south side of the George Mason Bridge with four HOV lanes.1 Lanes on these bridges come together at the Washington Channel Bridge leading east onto the Southwest Freeway.

The Southwest Freeway fully opened to traffic on August 26, 1963.1 It included stubs for the Southeast Freeway (I-695) and the Center Leg Freeway. Construction commenced on the northerly component of future I-395 in 1966, but delays pushed back the opening north to E Street NW until November 5, 1973. This portion includes 3,500 foot long cut and cover tunnels.

Extension of the Center Leg Freeway north to its current end at New York Avenue (U.S. 50) includes a 1,250 foot long tunnel from Massachusetts Avenue to K Street NW. Work started on this portion in 1975, but like the southern segment, delays ensued in 1978. Funding to complete the Center Leg was finally obtained by 1984, with work resuming to an opening of the $84-million extension on February 6, 1987.2

Interstate 395 scenes
Posted at the corner of SW 9th Street south at Constitution Avenue (U.S. 1/50), this guide sign directed travelers south onto the 9th Street Expressway for the ramps to I-395 and the Southeast Freeway. Photo taken 01/20/00.
7th Street SW north
Interstate 395 trailblazer posted along 7th Street SW north at the Southwest Freeway on-ramp. I-395 meets I-695 (Southeast Freeway) at the northward turn onto the Center Leg Freeway nearby. Photo taken 08/01/05.
Capital Landing Place east at 7th Street SW, opposite the Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) northbound entrance ramp. Photo taken 08/01/05.
3 photos
3 photos
3 photos
7th Street SW stems north from Maine Avenue SW to meet Interstate 395 north after G Street SW. Photos taken 08/01/05.
Heaving traffic trudges westward along Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) as ramps from 9th Street SW and 7th Street SW join. Photo taken 08/01/05.
7th Street SW north crosses Interstate 395 and intersects Frontage Road SW adjacent to the Southwest Freeway. Photo taken 08/01/05.
7th Street SW south
2 photos
2 photos
Looking west from the 7th Street SW overpass at Interstate 395 and its southbound ramps to Maine Avenue and the 12th Street Expressway north. Ramps also tie into the freeway from 9th Street south at L'Enfant Plaza in these scenes. Photos taken 08/01/05.
Traffic from Maine Avenue eastbound joins Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) east at the end of the Francis Case Memorial Bridge. The Maine Avenue ramps were to connect with the unconstructed South Leg Freeway (I-695), a limited-access highway linking I-395 here with I-66 at the Potomac River Freeway. Photo taken 08/01/05.
7th Street SW south at the northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway). Photo taken 08/01/05.
Frontage Road SW west
2 photos
2 photos
Interstate 395 gains a southbound side Frontage Road between 6th Street SW and L'Enfant Plaza SW along the Southwest Freeway. Photos taken 08/01/05.
A second look at the Interstate 395 (Southwest Freeway) southbound split with the ramps to Maine Avenue and the 12th Street Expressway north. The Maine Avenue ramp leads drivers to Independence Avenue at West Potomac Park. This would have been the continuation of Interstate 695 west had the South Leg Freeway been built. Photo taken 08/01/05.
Westbound along the Interstate 395 Frontage Road approaching the L'Enfant Plaza Promenade at the 9th Street SW over crossing. Photo taken 08/01/05.
Traffic from 9th Street SW joins the mix ahead of the Interstate 395 ramp split between Maine Avenue west and 12th Street north. A slip ramp provides access from the 9th Street SW on-ramp to the departing Maine Avenue off-ramp. Photo taken 08/01/05.
The Promenade travels underneath L'Enfant Plaza SW from the frontage road northward. The Plaza above leads northward from Banneker Circle SW to Independence Avenue SW. Frontage Road SW otherwise turns north and joins the 12th Street Expressway toward Downtown. Photo taken 08/01/05.

  1. Southwest Freeway (I-395),
  2. Center Leg Freeway (I-395),

Photo Credits:

    01/20/00 by Jeff Royston. 08/01/05 by AARoads.

Connect with:
Interstate 695 - Southeast Freeway
U.S. 1
U.S. 50

Page Updated 06-19-2014.