ART LAWSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS
D.C. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT PUBLIC HEARING ON THE TRANSPORTATION
FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR THE INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION CENTER
Wednesday, July 7, 1999 2 PM
Good afternoon, I am Art Lawson, Deputy Director for Operations,
Department of Public Works. Joining me this afternoon is Deborah Price, Division Director,
District Division of Transportation, Kenneth Laden, Administrator of the Office of
Intermodal Planning and Michelle Pourcisu, Chief of Transportation and Public Space
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to inform the councilmembers
of a very exciting and innovative project that will take the nations' capital into the
21st century. The urban environment of the District of Columbia has been evolving from a
small town character to a cosmopolitan setting, including the means of transportation, for
the past thirty years. The proposed Intermodal Transportation Center is a facility that
will provide supporting transportation infrastructure to ensure cohesive development of
the downtown area. DPW has participated with the District offices involved with Economic
Development, including the Office of Planning and the Department of Housing and Community
Development to name a few, toward providing infrastructure for increased economic
development and expanded tourism.
The concept of an Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) is described
in three reports, Transportation Plan for the District of Columbia: A Transportation
Vision, Strategy and Action Plan for the Nation's Capital, New York Avenue Development
Report, and A Vision and Action Plan to Revitalize the Heart of Washington, D.C. These
reports envisioned the ITC as an underground facility which would allow residents and
visitors driving to downtown to "park once" in a centrally located facility and
transfer to other modes of transportation for travel to shopping, entertainment, tourism
sites and work sites throughout the downtown area. The ITC will encourage tourists to
leave the mall and visit downtown stores and restaurants.
The downtown area is the first "park once" location to be studied by the
Department. Other ITC, "park once", facilities are recommended in the Strategic
Transportation Plan including some gateways, to intercept automobiles and provide links
with alternative forms of transportation.
The Transportation Feasibility Study for the Intermodal
Transportation Center, an initial feasibility study, was prepared for the DC
Department of Public Works and submitted in April, 1999. This study determined that there
is a need for this type of facility in the downtown area, given anticipated development,
and the facility could be located in the area bounded by New York Avenue, 4th Street,
Massachusetts Avenue and 6th Street, N.W. This site was highlighted for initial analysis
because it was proposed in the three approved planning studies mentioned earlier
The findings of this study demonstrated that the site could provide
transfer facilities to the local bus and subway system, as well as the proposed light rail
or trolley system, and it could accommodate 7,200 parking spaces below grade.
In addition, the facility could be used as a parking area for tour
buses, as well as provide overflow truck staging area for the new downtown convention
center. Most of all, the facility provides a hub for pedestrian access and generates
pedestrian activity within close proximity of downtown uses.
The ITC would provide convenient transportation connections to existing
entertainment destinations, such as, the Smithsonian galleries and museums, National Park
Service sites, MCI Arena, the Convention Center and other downtown attractions and
entertainment sites. The ITC would also serve as a potential transportation support
facility for entertainment facilities which are being planned, including a new downtown
The air rights above the ITC will be used for economic development in
the eastern portion of the downtown area. However, no final above ground use has been
Preliminary cost estimates for the 7,200 space facility are
approximately $290 million.
Last year, in the Congressional reauthorization and review of national
projects, this project was selected and funded for environmental assessment and
preliminary engineering. Funding was provided under the Transportation Equity Act for the
21st Century. Public Law 105-178, commonly known as TEA-21. Specifically, Section 1602
under Federal-aid Highways High Priority Projects provides $750,000 and Section 3031 under
Federal Transit Administration Programs provides $5 million for the ITC. In addition, the
ITC is identified as part of the Capital Gateway-New York Avenue High Priority Corridor
and is eligible to compete nationally for Federal Discretionary funds. These funds are all
direct congressional allocations, dedicated specifically to this effort.
The next step of this effort is to hire a consultant to prepare an
environmental assessment, including alternative site analysis, engineering design, traffic
impact study and a study of alternative methods of financing the construction of the
facility. The environmental assessment will determine the best location, analyze
environmental impacts and transportation connections, determine land acquisition
requirements, develop a parking operation plan and provide documentation needed to access
additional federal discretionary funding.
Public outreach to obtain comments and suggestions from local residents
and the business community regarding the proposed ITC project is also an important element
of the next phase. Public meetings, advisory panels, technical committees and other means
of interaction through varying media will be established as part of this next phase of
project analysis. The estimated timeframe to complete the environmental assessment is 12
to 18 months.
This concludes my prepared statement. At this time, I would be happy to
respond to any questions from the Committee.
Back to top of page
Before the D.C. Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment
July 7, 1999
To: Linda Cropp, Chair of the DC City Council
Carol Schwartz, at Large, Chair of DPW Committee
David Catania, at Large, Chair of Local & Regional Affairs
From: Ralph Nader
PO Box 19312, Washington, D.C.
Anybody reading the materials regarding the proposed Intermodal Transportation Center
(ITC) and a possible professional baseball stadium in the Mt. Vernon East Neighborhood
knows that the corporate model of development big entertainment complex with
concentrated traffic density is confronting the neighborhood model of sustainable
urban revival of housing and mixed commercial activity as if people who live there
mattered. So there they go again with their disregard of far superior
alternative sites such as near Union Station and renovating the existing RFK stadium and
their demand for huge taxpayer subsidies all in the context of rejecting full and
complete procedural due process and public deliberations.
There are many studies here and from other cities that have rejected this
corporate-developer-entertainment-tax subsidized model in the central city as wasteful,
environmentally harmful, a drain on the city's tax base and productive of far fewer jobs
than the sustainable neighborhoods where people of far fewer jobs than the sustainable
neighborhoods where people live and work and contribute to city revenues rather than
deplete them. This experience is reflected in the columns of Rudolph A. Pyatt, Jr., of the
Washington Post and the writings of Professor Dorn C. McGrath, Jr., of George
Washington University, J. Kirkwood White and Beth Solomon.
Eminent domain funded by corporate welfare to further the corporate domain
over the peoples domain using secretive, fast-track, unsubstantiated and
other roughshod modes of unilateral decision-making are not what many District residents
expect from their new Mayor and Administration. When thought precedes greed and democracy
precedes oligarchy, many good results occur for a breathable living downtown, a truly
rational and not disguised intermodal transportation system and an organically vibrant
downtown that serves its own people.
Rest assured, Council members, that a mobilized citizenry will emerge to set such
priorities right. The greased wheels will not be so easy this time. Do not judge the
present by the past. Represent the people who live and work in your city. Thank you.
Back to top of page
Testimony to the D.C. Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment
July 7, 1999
Good afternoon, Madam Chair and Councilmembers. Thank you for this opportunity to
testify before you today on the proposed Intermodal Transportation Center.
My name is Mary M. Shelton and I am a registered Republican. Mrs. Schwartz, I have
voted for you many times. I am 75 years old.
I was born and raised near downtown Washington. I was born at Freemanıs Hospital,
which is now Howard University Hospital, in 1924. After that, I lived on Corcoran St., and
then around the corner on 18th Street. I went to Francis Jr. High School and Cardozo
Senior High School. I worked as a district employee for 20 years in the voter registration
Fourteen years ago I moved into the Museum Square Apartments because it was built for
senior and disabled citizens. I served as the president of the tenants association for
Museum Square is an excellent location for senior citizens like myself, because it is
centrally located. I can easily get to the Giant and the Bank on foot. Public
transportation is available. Itıs very convenient, especially for senior citizens who
have more difficulty than young people getting around.
But now we hear that our building would be knocked down to build a 7000-space parking
garage. I do not understand this.
The land where we live is zoned residential. The land next to us is zoned residential
and was bought by the city for more residential housing. Our neighbors are in favor of
more residential. So I donıt understand how a parking garage for commuters could take
Many senior citizens who have worked long and hard in this city are living in Museum
Square. Why would you allow them to be pushed out for buses, trucks and cars?
It is very upsetting to the residents. One of my neighbors said she can't think about
it because she is afraid she will have a heart attack. It seems very cruel to treat senior
citizens this way.
It seems crazy to push people out of the city to bring thousands more cars per day into
downtown Washington, which is already congested.
We do not think it is good for our residents or the city, and we will fight with our
neighbors against it.
Thank you very much.
Back to top of page
Before the D.C. Council Committee on Public Works
July 7, 1999
Madam Chair, Members of the Council, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My
name is Budd Lane. I am a 32-year resident of Dupont Circle and the Chair of the Ward 2
I was elected as Chair on a platform of protecting neighborhoods. My vision is a simple
one, to meld a coalition of politically active Democrats throughout the Ward to support
the public interest, and to offset the influence of developers, institutions and/or other
businesses whose "special interests" intrude on the rights of residents and the
tranquility of our neighborhoods. I am not anti-development, I am pro-neighborhood.
Based on this mandate and my own research on the proposal before you today, I urge you
in the strongest terms to reject the commuter parking garage proposed by the
Department of Public Works for the Mt. Vernon neighborhood.
It poses extreme health and environmental risks for our citizens. It would attract new
traffic into downtown, which is already overwhelmed. And it would encourage more driving
into the District not less. This is a direct contradiction of our stated
The commuter parking garage proposed for the Mt. Vernon neighborhood is an example of
special-interest-driven government that is no longer acceptable. We will not tolerate a
Government that promotes the interests of developers, nonprofits, and nonresidents over
the interests of our neighborhoods and taxpayers. Public business must be fairly and
openly conducted. We demand to be at the table, represented by our ANCs and recognized
civic organizations. We should not have to resort to litigation to force compliance with
our laws. If you believe as I do, then you know that there is something wrong with the way
our Government conducts our business.
I would point out to you that the Department of Public Works' proposed commuter garage
has never I repeat, never been proposed or properly described by DPW
officials at a community meeting, to face the questions not to mention preferences
of residents whose neighborhoods would be transformed by it and who will pay
It has been launched as a fait-accomplit with no citizen input and no site
selection process to determine where if anywhere such a facility belongs in
Home rule cannot be realized until issues that affect neighborhood interests are
paramount. The quality of life in our neighborhoods is most directly affected by local
issues that are continuously subverted or aggravated by officials who forget why they have
been elected or appointed. We are here to remind them that we are ever watchful and intend
to hold them accountable.
I urge you, Madame Chair, to demand an end to this irresponsible conduct of the
publicıs business. The commuter parking garage at the Mt. Vernon Square site must be
halted so an honest process of site selection and planning can begin with proper oversight
and community participation.
Thank you for your attention, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might
Back to top of page
Testimony to the D.C. Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment
July 7, 1999
Good afternoon, Councilmember Schwartz. Thank you for this opportunity to testify here
today. My name is Sonny Williams. I am 66 years old.
I was born and raised in Washington. I now live at the Museum Square Apartments at 401
K St. NW. Several years ago I had a stroke. I am disabled.
Living at Museum Square allows me to get around. I take the bus to Georgetown
University Hospital for treatment. I can walk to the store. I see people. Living downtown
keeps me active. I am very surprised that anyone would propose to knock down our building.
It was just built in the 1980s. And it is the home of hundreds of people, many of whom
have disabilities. Many of the residents are too old to move. They should not be forced to
Especially for a parking garage that no one wants. I am very concerned that residents
are being pushed out of the city for convention centers, stadiums, and parking lots.
What good is a city if it has no people? I hope you will not allow this project to go
forward. We need to put people first in this city. We want more housing in our
neighborhood, not more trucks, buses and parking lots.
Back to top of page
926 N St. NW (Rear Building)
Washington, DC 20001
July 5, 1999
Mayor Anthony Williams
441 Fourth St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Mayor Williams,
This letter is to ask for your help in altering an important proposed transportation
project that as currently planned could cause great harm to the District of Columbia
and the surrounding region.
The D.C. Department of Public Works ("DPW") has proposed building a $300
million government-funded commuter parking garage for 7,200 cars, plus hundreds of trailer
trucks and buses in the Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood between 4th Street, 6th Street, New
York and Massachusetts Avenues, NW.
The garage would:
- bring thousands more cars per day into downtown Washington, which is already beyond
saturation with auto traffic,
- create extreme health and environmental hazards for residents of Mt. Vernon Square,
- destroy current and future housing (and pedestrian-oriented living) in that neighborhood
(including an existing 302-unit handicapped senior citizens' residence),
- encourage more people to drive from the suburbs by building a massive parking facility
in the middle of the city.
The garage as proposed violates environmental and transportation policies and
objectives of the District of Columbia, including DPW's "Transportation Vision,
Strategy and Action Plan for the Nationıs Capital," and the "Park Once"
concept to reduce downtown traffic. The garage as proposed also fails to meet federal
intermodal transportation standards, raising serious questions about future funding.
Meanwhile, superior alternatives exist, including Union Station, which could be a true
Intermodal Transportation Center, due to its Amtrak, commuter rail and Metro connections.
Regional environmental groups have already spoken out about the garage (articles
enclosed), while residents and civic groups are on record as overwhelmingly in favor of
housing/mixed use development on the site in question, as called for in the Comprehensive
We would very much appreciate meeting with you to discuss these issues at the earliest
opportunity. I can be reached at (202) 789-7864.
Thank you very much.
cc: Abdusalam Omer, Chief of Staff
Max Brown, Deputy Chief of Staff for External Affairs
Back to top of page
Department of Public Works Sub Committee
July 7, 1999
By the Committee of 100 on the Federal City [Most illustrations included in this
testimony are not available on-line]
What Is an Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC)?
What Is the DPW Proposing?
What :Is the DPW Proposing for New York Avenue (NYAD)?
What Are the Costs of the Various Proposals?
Do these Proposals Make Sense? Are there ways to test these proposals? Are there Better
Uses for the Land?
The ITC Supporters Suggest a "Vision" for the Downtown. What Vision Should the
District Government and Its Citizens Support?
Union Station Is an Intermodal Transportation Center. (AMTRAK, Commuter Rail,
DPW Is Proposing a Big Garage.
For the New York Avenue Development (NYAD) DPW Is Proposing an Underground Freeway.
DPW Estimates the ITC to Cost about Three Hundred Million Dollars; DPW Estimates
the Underground Freeway to Cost about One Billion Dollars.
The DPW Proposals Can Be Tested by Comparing Downtown Washington with Midtown + Lower
Manhattan and with Downtown Chicago.
We Believe there Are Better Proposals to Accomplish Similar Purposes, Costing at Most Ten
Million Dollars, with Financing Assured, and with Much Larger Dollar Returns to the
ITC Supporters Propose a VISION of the Downtown As an "Entertainment
We Agree, and Believe that the Entertainment Destination Must Be Part of a "Living
Downtown" with the Kind of Efficient Transportation Proposed by the DPW "VISION
and TRANSPORTATION STRATEGIES."
DOWNTOWN COMPARISONS: MANHATTAN, CHICAGO, WASHINGTON
The Washington data is provided by the Council of Governments and the
DOWNTOWN Business Improvement District and its consultant.
The data for the Chicago Loop is provided by the Chicago Mayor's
office. (Note that the Loop is only about half the Chicago Central Business District; we
could not get current data for the rest of the Chicago CBD.)
We have not been able to get current Manhattan data. In the early 1970s
there were about 1,600,000 jobs in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, and rush hour auto traffic
was variously reported as from 50,000 to 70,000 cars in the peak hour. We are fairly
certain that the number of Manhattan jobs has increased. Whatever the 1970s traffic data,
it is almost certainly still current; the road/street/bridge/tunnel system was operating
at absolute capacity, and the subway system has been substantially up-graded.
3-D Map North of Massachusetts Avenue Neighborhood
The New York Avenue Development Report says that:
"The area (North of Massachusetts Avenue) is now nearly devoid
of useful or beneficial structures."
The New York Avenue Report is incorrect. In the area between New York
and Massachusetts Avenues and North Capitol Street there now are six churches, seven
schools the DC Police Boys & Girls clubs the J.B. Johnson Nursing Center, nine
apartments and condominiums and seven major private and public office buildings, most
either new or on the Historic Register.
The District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan calls for high-rise
apartments anti mixed use commercial east of Mount Vernon Square, south of New York Avenue
and, generally, west of New Jersey Avenue. The Plan calls for medium density residential
between New Jersey Avenue and North Capital Street and north of K Street, with medium to
high density commercial along Massachusetts Avenue, with medium, high density commercial
uses between North Capitol Street and the railroad yards.
In 1970 the downtown looked like Dresden, Germany alter World War II.
Development interests proposed an Inner Loop 1 Freeway System through the neighborhoods
surrounding the center. After a 20-year battle citizens forced it to be abandoned; the
money was used to build Metrorail.
In 1970 about 70,000 cars entered the downtown every morning rush hour,
traveling largely on :a transport network laid out by a French architect in 1791. 'The
problems of the downtown were not, and are not, access problems.
The center has been reborn; it is now the third largest employment
center in America.
A D.C. TRANSPORTATION STUDY, in 1942, pointed nut how much more
efficient walking is than public transit and how much more efficient public transit is
than private automobile travel. It concluded by summarizing the most important condition
for transportation efficiency in downtown Washington:
"The most significant (transportation) factor is "the
number of people walking to work . . . The number of people walking should be maintained,
increased if possible, by protecting the attractiveness of the area immediately
surrounding the business district as a first class residential neighborhood."
The preceding page describes the two conditions for transportation
efficiency in and around dense downtowns: 1) Residential neighborhoods within walking or
short transit distance from the center, and 2) Transit that is not compromised by private
In 1948, New York Avenue, operating at capacity, carried about twice
ice as many commuters and shoppers into the downtown as New York Avenue would carry today,
operating at capacity, if New York Avenue also included a freeway tunneled under it.
The reason is simple; in 1948 an exclusive transitway ran flown the
middle of the Avenue. As the "Transportation Efficiency Diagram" shows, one
downtown lane of automobile traffic will carry about 1,000 people about 15 miles per hour.
Buses, or streetcars, in mixed traffic, will carry over 10,000 people per lane about 4 to
6 miles per hour. But buses, or streetcars, on exclusive travelways, not compromised by
private auto congestion, will ill travel at least 12 miles per hour, including stops for
pick- up and delivery of passengers.
In 1948 Washington had one of the world's great streetcar systems,
operating on the wide L'Enfant Avenues, with about 300,000 people in the neighborhoods
north of the downtown. But with a well documented assist from General Motors, the tracks
were dug up, the streetcars sent to Sarajevo, two thirds of the people around the downtown
went to suburban Virginia and Maryland, and the Avenues were abandoned to private auto
European cities never made that mistake, transit uniformly operates
free of auto congestion. All buses in central Paris travel at least 12 miles per hour,
despite pervasive automobile congestion in Paris, impressive even by Washington standards.
A few American cities have begun the transition to transportation efficiency
Denver. Sacramento, Minneapolis, Portland. The D.C. Department of Public Works has
set the stage for Washington with its enormously important "Park once" strategy.
In 1998, on the 75th Anniversary of its founding, the Committee of 100
on the Federal City published a brochure entitled WASHINGTON'S THREE-SISTERS BRIDGE and
INNER LOOP FREEWAY SYSTEMS CONTROVERSIES. While that struggle was initiated by the
residential neighborhoods threatened by the freeways, the Committee of 100 is proud to
have been active in that two-decade-long battle for the soul and future of the city. Only
the L'Enfant Plan and the work of the Senate Park Commission (the "McMillan
Commission"), have been more important in securing the quality and future of the
Center of the National Capital.
In an address to the Board of Trade, U. S. Secretary of Transportation
Alan S. Boyd repeated the warning of Lewis Mumford:
"Washington has proved a classic example of the question of whether a city
dedicated wholeheartedly to traffic could survive for other purposes. The assumed right of
the private motor car to go any place and park anywhere is nothing less than a license to
destroy the city. "
The same profoundly misguided forces have rejoined the same battle, in
the name of "economic development." The Committee of 100 has a level of
confidence in economic development driven by the private market that some city agencies
lack. Beyond the center, the neighborhoods need economic development help not forthcoming
from the public agencies; but public subsidies to private development are unnecessary in
That effort is made doubly tragic by the fact that, in the name of
traffic improvement, exactly those qualities that make traffic work will be further
Within the L'Enfant Center of the National Capital, two centuries of private
initiative and public planning have created a "World City," in the
sense that London, Paris, Rome are World Cities. We, who are fortunate to be its citizens,
should treat it with respect.
The Extraordinary Record of Planning for the NATIONAL CAPITAL
The potential of the L'ENFANT PLAN,
The work of the SENATE PARK COMMISSION,
The D. C. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN,
The NCPC YEAR 2000 PLAN,
The NCPC LEGACY PLAN,
The DPW TRANSPORTATION VISION STRATEGIES,
The History and Current Problems of the Center of the NATIONAL CAPITAL
The extraordinary rebirth of the downtown in the last three decades,
The important of the necklace of residential neighborhoods around the downtown,
The difficulty of financing downtown housing, and
The problems of traveling around our large downtown, and
Our underutilized Metrorail system, and
Planning Objectives for the Monumental/Commercial Center
The objective of a 'Living Downtown,'
The objective of transportation efficiency,
The objective of economic development
The objective of an "entertainment destination"
The objective of providing for tour buses and parking and truck staging for the Convention
And considering the available sources of public money
What COMBINATION of Public Investments. Plans, Strategies, Will Best Address these
It is important that suburban commuters get into the center easily and, because
this is the National Capital, it is important for tourists to get to the Monumental
Center. But we believe that the City's most important agenda is this:
"LET'S MAKE THE NATIONAL CAPITAL WORK for the PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE THEN the
VISITORS WILL LIKE IT, TOO!"