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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lady Bird Johnson Park

I have always thought Lady Bird Johnson Park was a little strange. Though closer to the Virginia shore, this island lies completely within the District, much like Roosevelt Island to the northwest. Although, unlike Roosevelt, this island is overrun with freeway spaghetti, most of it serving the Commonwealth and not the District. Also, this area is served by a Metro station, Arlington Cemetery. There is no residential, commercial, office, or industrial construction on the island, save a small marina on the south end. There are no park facilities. The entire area just seems like a serene setting to plop down a bunch of (confusing) highways.

Considering Lady Bird Johnson's efforts to beautify our nation's freeways, I suppose this is somewhat fitting (and probably intentional). though her Highway Beautification Act pertained mostly to interstates and ironically none of the highways on her island are interstates. Still, it seems like such a waste of a land. Why call it a "park" if there are no park facilities? It's not exactly the kind of place one can picnic or hike.

I would like to see the highway lanes consolidated, perhaps with some modest low rise apartments on the north side of the island oriented to the Metro station. And open the island up with some trails and waterside park facilities. Right now, the District seems to be allowing this land to be utilized only by the commuters in Arlington County.


Cavan said...

While the island is in the District, it is owned and controlled by the National Park Service. As you know, the NPS could give a rat's ass about what is good for the local jurisdictions.

The highways there are all patrolled by Park Police rather than Arlington police or Virginia State Police (called State Police even though Virginia is a commonwealth). Those confusing highways are similar to the GW or B-W parkways as far as jurisdiction.

Douglas A. Willinger said...

Did Lady Bird ever get involved with the inside the Beltway planning controversies?

I suppose that her connections in Eastern Star probably kept her focused solely on the billboard issue.

Froggie said...

A billboard issue that was successfully resolved. Then almost completely undone with the 1968 highway act. Stupid Congress.

As for those "highways", most of those roads date WELL before the Interstate system. There's topographic maps from the mid-40s that show them.

Dave Murphy said...

Part of the GW Parkway actually runs through it. Lousy National Park Service. I'd love to see some of that area reclaimed.