National Park Service announces Cherry Blossom ParkwayThe following was posted as an April Fool's joke.
New road will increase public visibility of Cherry Blossom trees and key monuments
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2008 - The National Park Service announced today that they have completed an EIS for the construction of a 4.5 mile Cherry Blossom Parkway along West and East Potomac Parks.
"The cherry blossom trees are Washington's greatest natural resource, yet their remoteness from the rest of the city gives few residents the opportunity to enjoy their beauty," said Joseph Lawlest, Regional Director of the National Park Service's National Capital Region. "By creating this parkway, our West and East Potomac Parks will accommodate many more visitors, including many residents every single day who can enjoy our natural beauty on their daily commutes."
This project will provide motorists with a direct, up-close view of the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and Korean War Veterans Memorials, and the Franklin Delano Roosevent Memorial as well as most of the 3,000 cherry trees given to Washington by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912.
The new parkway will connect I-66 at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge to I-295 and Malcolm X Ave SE in Congress Heights, passing through West Potomac Park, along the shore of the Tidal Basin, and continuing along the path of Ohio Drive through East Potomac Park before traversing the Anacostia River. It completes a key link in the Washington, DC transportation network, allowing commuters from DC's Ward Eight and southern Prince George's County to reach downtown destinations more quickly than they can today, while also ensuring that motorists enjoy the peace and beauty of Washington's riverfront parks and cherry trees.
The road will follow the current route of Constitution Ave to 23rd St NW, and then pass east of the Lincoln Memorial. This portion of the parkway will provide motorists with the opportunity to view the Lincoln Memorial from the southbound lanes and the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials from the northbound lanes. In addition, a direct ramp from both directions of the parkway will provide direct access to a 2,000-car underground garage that will allow visitors to park and view the 100,000-square foot, six-floor Vietnam Veterans Visitors' Center, Museum, Archives and Reenactment Complex.
Continuing south, the parkway will follow the route of Daniel C. French Dr SW to ramps at Independence Ave. where the southbound and northbound lanes will split. The southbound lanes will continue southeast to the edge of the Tidal Basin, where the Army Corps of Engineers will extend the land to provide a right-of-way for the parkway adjacent to the current shoreline. This will pass directly adjacent to and in many cases under some of Washington's treasured cherry trees, creating excellent viewing opportunities within a short span of time.
The parkway will also afford motorists an excellent view of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. In order to ensure readability for the many quotations inscribed on the memorial, they will be supplemented with larger versions located on billboards suspended above the Memorial. Each billboard will feature a brightly colored background, each with a different color, to maximize the ability of motorists of all ages to enjoy Roosevelt's words.
Meanwhile, the northbound lanes will travel along the route of Independence Avenue on an elevated viaduct until the intersection with Maine Ave SW. This will pass very close to the World War II memorial, ensuring motorists have the opportunity to enjoy this memorial during the drive. Ramps will also connect Independence Avenue to the parkway.
South of there, the parkway will be aligned due north-south, to provide northbound motorists with a direct view of the White House and of the Jefferson Memorial directly in the rearview mirror. During afternoon rush hours, this portion of the parkway will be converted to southbound operation to provide extra capacity, also creating a distinctive view of the Jefferson Memorial.
Both sets of lanes will rise to an elevated roadway, passing over I-395 and US-1 with connecting ramps to and from 14th Street, the bridges to the Pentagon, and the Southeast Freeway. Both segments will then descend to ground level where Ohio Drive along East Potomac Park will be converted to parkway, with the western (Potomac River) side used for the southbound lanes and the eastern (Washington Channel) side used for the northbound lanes. To accommodate the additional lanes without loss of any portion of the golf course, the parking will be removed along Ohio Drive and the pedestrian trail narrowed. A new parking lot will be constructed at Hains Point in the portion of the park not covered with the golf course, to ensure no net loss of parking.
The northbound and southbound lanes will rejoin at Hains Point and then travel over a new bridge across the Anacostia River, where they will pass between Anacostia Naval Station and Bolling Air Force Base. The parkway will terminate at I-295 at Malcolm X Ave SE, with ramps to and from both directions of I-295 as well as Malcolm X Ave.
The Park Service has concluded that the Cherry Blossom Parkway would have no significant impact on air quality, the water quality and hydrology of the Tidal Basin or the Potomac and its tributaries, wetlands and floodplains, deciduous forests, and protected and rare species. These findings would be expected, based both on the NPS' mandate to protect these resources and the development of the alternatives from decision points that focus on traffic management, visitor interpretation and education, and effective administration and operations.
The Park Service is also consulting with the National Highway Administration and Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters about the possibility of routing I-95 along the parkway instead of along the eastern side of the Capital Beltway. The route would be signed I-95 from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge along what is now I-295, then on the Cherry Blossom Parkway and continuing to Rock Creek Parkway, which the Park Service has announced plans to expand and widen in its 2009 budget. The upgraded Rock Creek Parkway would allow motorists to travel all the way to the Capital Beltway in a quiet, natural setting. A newly signed I-95 would also encourage travelers passing through the region to utilize the two parkways, leading an even greater number of Americans to travel through and visually participate in these valuable National Parks.
Longer term, the Cherry Blossom Parkway would form the northernmost end of the Park Service's proposed Appalachian Ridge Line & Foliage Observation Laneway, which would provide a quicker route for motorists along the I-81 corridor while avoiding the existing congestion. The ApRiL-FoOL would split off from I-66 at Front Royal, Virginia, travel through the center of Shenandoah National Park, Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park before connecting to I-26. Along the way, this six-lane route would travel through the Main Street of several historic towns, providing motorists with a faster route to Asheville and a view of many of America's natural resources in the Appalachian region.
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