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11/22/2005
DC Plans to Tear Down Key Freeway Because It is Ugly
Washington, DC is looking to demolish a vital commuter freeway claiming it is ugly.

Whitehurst Freeway
District of Columbia transportation officials are actively working to eliminate one of the few true freeways inside Washington, DC. The Whitehurst Freeway, which was renovated as recently as 1998, is an essential link for commuters carrying 42,000 vehicles a day. The District Department of Transportation's "Whitehurst Freeway Deconstruction Feasibility Study" is looking to tear it down.

The DC government wants to use the extra space that would be available with the freeway demolished to add bus-only lanes to K Street. The District recently began removing lanes of traffic in the city to dedicate them to public transit. Estimates for the cost of the project reach up to $58 million.

District officials have also created a group of community "activists," bicycle groups and government bureaucrats to help shape the decision-making process, but no representatives of commuters from Virginia who depend on the freeway were invited to the "Stakeholder Advisory Committee."

"This is a classic example of public officials overruling traffic engineering," said Eric Skrum, communications director for the National Motorists Association. "Rather than applying sound engineering principles to help facilitate the flow of traffic and improve safety, officials are basing decisions on aesthetics."

Article Excerpt:
"Ugly maybe, but broken no," said Mark Blumenthal, who works in Georgetown and lives in the city's Palisades neighborhood. "For me, it isn't worth the cost in a city that can't fix its schools." Allen G. Tomlinson, who has spent 35 years in the neighborhood, said he enjoys the industrial look of the freeway and worries that widening K Street would make the waterfront and area businesses less accessible to pedestrians.
Source: Multiple ideas on freeway studied (Associated Press, 11/22/2005)

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