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DDOT suggests cutting 395 to Mass Ave

DDOT has asked the TPB to study traffic on I-395 (the "Center Leg") and evaluate the closing the section between Mass Ave and New York Avenue, according to WTOP. From their letter:

Photo by M.V.Jantzen on Flickr.
Based on a Transportation Planning Board finding that a high proportion of New York Avenue traffic has neither an origin nor a destination within the District, DDOT has requested the option of closing a section of I-395 between its current northern terminus at New York Avenue and its interchange with Massachusetts Avenue.
This actually isn't a new idea: NCPC brought it up it in 2006. The volume of traffic on New York Avenue and the way those roads have been over-engineered for high traffic volumes makes it difficult to revitalize the neighborhoods in that area. New York Avenue isn't going away as a main route into DC from the BW Parkway and from Annapolis, but it certainly should not be a primary through route.

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 wouldnít be able to do it now.
While we consider making through-driving more difficult on New York Avenue, we're also making it easier on the Southeast Freeway. Maybe the long-term effect would be to move traffic bound for the House office buildings and the Southwest Federal Center area off New York Avenue and onto the newly-connected Anacostia Freeway-11th Street Bridges-Southeast Freeway route? That would enable improvements in Northeast, but at some cost to residents along the freeways. A worthwhile tradeoff?
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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I believe that was the plan at one time. If you look on Google sat view, you can see they have built out a connector stub from the Anacostia supposedly to connect the southbound SEFW. Plus with that new connection the intercity buses can get in and out of L'Enfant Plaza even faster!!!!!

by RJ on Jun 26, 2008 4:50 pm • linkreport

while I don't totally understand the trade-off idea you are talking about at the end (it's 5 o'clock), I completely love the "cut off 395" idea. How amazing of a transformation would that be for Mt. Vernon Triangle, and it would also allow the connection between the Gonzaga area and MVT.

awesome. the less highways the better.

by DG-rad on Jun 26, 2008 5:08 pm • linkreport

As far as through traffic goes, where is it going? If it's going all the way to get back on 95, why doesn't it just take the Anacostia freeway and go over the newly completed Wilson Bridge?

by Alex B. on Jun 26, 2008 5:21 pm • linkreport

Sounds like this is part of the inner beltway that never came to be ... and as such isn't needed. Returning that area to the neigbhorhoods it bisects would be a good idea.

by Lance on Jun 26, 2008 5:47 pm • linkreport

Wouldn't it make even more sense to get rid of the acres of free parking available around the house office buildings and southwest federal center? It would be a sensible part of the greening the government initiative put forth by both presidential candidates.

by Elmhurst on Jun 26, 2008 8:25 pm • linkreport

I would venture to guess that making the SE Freeway far more appealing to Maryland drivers is the only way this works. Otherwise drivers will take NY Ave to a new two way NJ Ave to get on I-395 at Mass Ave. Congestion would merely be shifted from one Avenue to two others. Right?

by FourthandEye on Jun 26, 2008 11:08 pm • linkreport

How would this help Mt. Vernon Triangle? I like the idea, I think, because I hate the New Jersey / New York intersection, but I don't see this making much of a difference to Mt. Vernon Triangle. Anyone who was going to Mt. Vernon Triangle on NY will just go there on Mass., right?

by Eric on Jun 27, 2008 7:54 am • linkreport

Eric: Many drivers cut through the residential streets of MV Triangle to get onto I-395. In fact, there are major problems with drivers going the wrong way on some one-way streets, like on 4th between M and N. Moving the entrance out of the neighborhood would relieve the feeling of crazy drivers pushing and often breaking traffic laws to jockey to get onto the freeway.

by David Alpert on Jun 27, 2008 7:58 am • linkreport

"As far as through traffic goes, where is it going?"

Arlington, of course, and points nearby. Anything north of Springfield and west/north of I-395. That's pushing a half million people, including Baileys, Seven Corners, Falls Church, Landmark, and parts of Annandale and McLean. If you live on Columbia Pike, for example, and are driving from Maryland, you have two options (short of going all the way around): New York Avenue; and North Capitol Street to the SESW. The second option will be the only option, if this plan goes forward.

by Willard on Jun 28, 2008 12:33 am • linkreport

Willard: There will be a 3rd option: the direct ramp from the southbound Anacostia Freeway to the SESW that DDOT is planning to add as part of the $500 million reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges.

by David Alpert on Jun 28, 2008 8:58 am • linkreport

Wouldn't it be great if there was a fourth option, like a wounderful train/tram system?

by Bianchi on Jun 29, 2008 10:40 am • linkreport

Truncating I-395 is a horrible idea that will increase traffic on New Jersey Avenue between Mass and NY Avenues, and will place a greater proportion of traffic along the Anacostia Freeway. It is also utterly senseless insofar that its a tunneled highway.

DC rad especially does not seem to have considered this with his post that only demonstrates the thoughtlessness of the white is black black is white sort of transportation disadvocacy.

by Douglas Willinger on Jun 29, 2008 10:03 pm • linkreport

Alot of this 395 to NY Ave cut through traffic could be ameliorated by simply providing at least one complete freeway connection through the city (i.e. connecting 295 to 395 as originally planned. Sure, in an ideal world, we might just have surface streets in the District. But the reality is quite different, and that's what we have to deal with. Currently, we have the worst of all situations: several freeways bringing traffic into the city, only to dump them off onto surface streets, that then pick back up into freeways a short while later, making "cut through" traffic a bad but plausible option. What does that solve?

by G-Man on Jun 30, 2008 2:02 pm • linkreport

Connecting to 295 does nothing for service in DC north of the National Mall.

Ideally, extend I-395 via a buried tunnel-box multi-model Red Line corridor beneath a new linear park, and connect to a PEPCO corridor extension.

I do not see how just having surface streets would be ideal- that would preclude vehicular and rail subways- unless one's perspective is black is white and white is black when decried by one's superior.

by Douglas Willinger on Jul 1, 2008 12:48 pm • linkreport

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