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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

People Movers, Highway Removal, and Thoughts on Rosslyn

Update to yesterday's post: I recommend PRT for business campuses, when in fact a people mover is what I was thinking when I proposed the idea. Large, semi-on demand vehicles that could carry about 20 people at a time to one of a few destinations, much like the University of West Virginia's system. The more I think about it, the more my idea starts to look like a last mile light rail. Thanks to Cavan for the insightful link in his comment. It somewhat supported my theory that people movers were good for large campuses, and it also elucidated on many of the hyperbolic myths of PRT proposals. Once again, if it were really feasible, Europe and the Far East would have been doing it years ago.


Ryan Avent posted a story that recommending removal of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway (I-395) though downtown. I like the idea of getting rid of this highway and reestablishing the Axises for Maryland Avenue and Virginia Avenue. However I left a comment on Aven'ts site pondering the need for a regional study before removing a freeway, which was attacked by a couple of other commentors. Perhaps I didn't clearly state the thought that the study ought to be the precursor to a plan that not only eliminates the freeway, but also beefs up transit and walkability in the areas that feed the freeway set for removal. Is this such a bad idea? Seems like a win/win to me.

Perhaps what catalyzed the rebuttals was my mentioning that highways in DC have one benefit, insofar as they keep industrial and military traffic off the regular city streets. Industrial traffic is an eyesore, and ought to be limited on city streets with regulations, but I don't suppose it is a major issue if through industrial traffic traveled on roads like North Capitol Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Undesirable, but not appalling.

Military traffic, on the other hand, has absolutely no business whatsoever on the city streets of the Nation's Capital. I firmly believe this. Military vehicles flying up and down monumental boulevards may fly in Moscow, Pyongyang, or Tehran, but it has no business happening in DC. Not in the Capital. not for all the tourists to see. Considering the Pentagon and three military bases (NAS Anacostia, Bolling AFB, and Ft. McNair) in Southeast are directly served by the Freeway plus indirect service to Ft. Meyer, Andrews AFB, Ft. Meade, Ft. Belvoir, and MCB Quantico, some considerations ought to be made with what to do with that traffic. Certainly a segregated two-way street ought to do the trick, but this also ought to be heavily considered with the removal of the freeway. The capital of any nation will need to serve military traffic, unfortunately, and we ought to give strong consideration to keeping this traffic off of the city streets at all costs.


I was in Rosslyn tonight. I've spent plenty of time around the other stations on that stretch of the Orange Line, but not Rosslyn. I was amazed at how dead that area is after 9pm on a weeknight. I went up to Court House (just one stop on Metro [don't worry I walked]) to get chili at Hard Times Cafe, and the difference was amazing. Pedestrians, storefronts, and night life could be observed buzzing with activity. I wonder why Rosslyn, which is served by two (and soon, three) Metro Lines is so dead after 9pm. Of course, one night there doesn't make me an expert. Perhaps I just chose a bad evening.


fourthandeye said...

Re: SE/SW Freeway - totally disagree about getting rid of this highway. The city is spending 500 million to improve the 11 St bridge and connectivity between SE Fwy and the Anacostia Freeway. Improving that connection is key. It could allow us to close the center leg freeway portion of I-395. If that can happen then thru traffic will have a better alternative than New York Avenue to I-395 to pass through the city.

Re: Rosslyn. I've worked their for 7 years. It's far more lively than it's ever been. I'm surprised you didn't see signs of life at 1550 Wilson with Piola and Cafe Asia. Rosslyn still needs a few more residential projects and restaurants to arrive to further it's goal of being a 18 hour community but it's come along way from being solely an office ghetto.

Dave Murphy said...

RE: SESW - Improving highway connectivity isn't a bad idea either, but it should be done in a manner that improves connectivity in the street grid, and that should be the priority. I'd like to see Delaware Avenue reconnected, and we ought to invest in resurrecting the Virginia Avenue axis. If we have to have a highway, bury it. If that's not cost effective, get rid of it.