DDOT suggests cutting 395 to Mass Ave

WTOP has reported that section of Interstate 395 between New York Avenue, NW, and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, could be closed to traffic permanently.

A letter obtained by WTOP from DDOT Director Emeka Moneme to Council member asks for a study on I-395 traffic in a letter to Phil Mendelson.

“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.”

At this stage no action is eminent DDOT just wants to leave the option open to explore. GreaterGreaterWashington.org has suggested that DDOT could coincide this move with the completion of the 11th Street bridge improvements that will improve a current bottleneck of the SE Freeway. This will make the SE Freeway the best bet for through traffic and in theory ultimately reduce traffic along New York Avenue.

Impact to the Triangle:
What is the impact to the Triangle? I’m just absorbing and processing this information but at the moment it still feels like a mixed bag.

Let’s first consider the improvements that DDOT already planned for the Triangle because a potential closure would occur 5 or more years down the line.

  • 4th Street changed from one way to two way traffic
  • New Jersey Ave changed from one way to two way traffic
  • L Street extended over I-395 to New Jersey Ave
  • 3rd Street extended to meet new L Street extension
  • DDOT would allow for a park along the 3rd St extension
  • Presumably the District would sell the air rights along the new L Street segment to developers
  • These transportation infrastructure improvements help connect Northwest One new community to the MVT

Image from Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project
[double click image to enlarge]

So while cutting off I-395 at Mass Ave would allow the city to remove the big divide in the Triangle created by the highway – existing plans were in place to take on this task by building over it. Was a build over more a hypothetical pie-in-the-sky idea than one that would have received enough budgetary funding to come to fruition?

What I wonder is what this closure does to the proposed new end of the highway at Mass Ave. That area has a confluence of roads including Mass Ave, H Street, 2nd Street, 4th Street, and New Jersey Ave. That interchange area could become a mess. The new two way streets at 4th and New Jersey could see a dramatic surge of through traffic. Thoughts?

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  1. 1

    Chris in Eckington says

    I use that section of I-395 everyday as do many people who live off of North Capitol Street, so I do not support closing it.

  2. 2

    mediocre bad guy says

    I don’t know how I feel about this. I definitely prefer the previous proposal to maintain 395 the way it is but to build on top of it.

    I agree with you that this intersection is going to be a giant cluster f*%# if they empty all of that traffic out onto mass ave.

    And then what are they going to do with the tunnel? fill it up with dirt? lol. Theyre still gonna go through the same trouble to build on top of it regardless of whether its in use or not.

    I think we’ve got bigger problems, don’t mess with this!

  3. 3

    IMGoph says

    i’m personally a fan of this proposal. sure, i live in bloomingdale, and scooting down 1st street to new york ave. and then jumping onto 395 to get to virginia and points south is convenient for me.

    but, in the long run, i think the 11th street bridge project will help to create a more efficient “cut-through” for traffic that is looking to do that, and we will see less traffic on new york ave in the future.

    plus, cars are going to become less and less prominent as a means of transportation. just not economically feasible given the price of fuel.

  4. 4

    Anonymous says

    terrible idea, sounds like a homeland security nighmare already. make it HARDER for cars/trucks to enter city not easier.


  5. 5

    IMGoph says

    rr446: it’s not clear if you’re saying this will make it harder for trucks to enter the city center, or if you think it should be harder for trucks to enter the city center. which one is it?

    and why is that a good/bad thing? i’m just curious to see how people are developing their thoughts and opinions about this.

  6. 6

    Jeremy says

    It’s inconceivable to me how people can ever suggest that removing a section of road will ever make for better traffic management. If the 11th St. bridge project makes that a better route then people will take it, this would alleviate traffic on NY ave 3rd St. tunnel. This is similar to the whining of people in Georgetown about Whitehurst freeway. It was there when you moved in, quite crying. Some of us DC residents use this everyday. (Yes, some of us residents do still drive, I hope that doesn’t offend you).

  7. 7

    fourthandeye says

    @Jeremy – quit crying? What? I’ll I’m doing is compiling news relevant to the Triangle to hopefully promote discussion. Just because I introduce a news topic doesn’t mean I’m a die hard advocate for it. That’s not what this blog is.