Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Whither the Whitehurst Freeway?

Yes, it has been an eyesore since erected in 1949, and yes, it cuts off Georgetown from the rapidly redeveloping waterfront area. But this almost mile-long elevated highway over K Street to the Key Bridge also provides quick access to and from downtown for thousands of Virginia and Maryland commuters, and eliminates potential traffic nightmares on the already claustrophobic streets of Georgetown. With such a conflicted existence, no wonder the battle over the future of the Whitehurst Freeway is often heated, with business leaders and the new luxury condo owners along the elevated road advocating demolition (more traffic means more business, and no freeway means unobstructed water views and increased condo values), and long-time residents and commuters favoring its preservation (especially considering it just received a $35 million overhaul and upgrade in 1998). The latest salvo arrived in late July, when the board of the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) voted in favor of removing the freeway. The Georgetown BID will next make its recommendation of a preferred alternative after an upcoming presentation by DC transportation officials. District officials have also proposed demolishing the Whitehurst and making K Street a 4- or 6-lane through street. That is, if they can ever solve the long-time curse of this project: How to connect K Street to both Key Bridge and Canal Road, which differ in elevation by 60 feet, in so short a road length.


Anonymous said...

They've been talking about this forever, every year they seem to come to the conclusion that it needs to come down, then they realize they can't force everyone down M Street, which would be much worse for Georgetown than the elevated freeway ever was.


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