DDOT has asked the TPB to study traffic on I-395 (the “Center Leg”) and evaluate the closing the section between Mass Ave and New York Avenue, according to WTOP. From their letter:
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.
This actually isn’t a new idea: NCPC brought it up it in 2006. The volume of traffic on New York Avenue and the way those roads have been over-engineered for high traffic volumes makes it difficult to revitalize the neighborhoods in that area. New York Avenue isn’t going away as a main route into DC from the BW Parkway and from Annapolis, but it certainly should not be a primary through route.
Some would argue that the solution would be to run the freeway all the way through the city, reducing traffic impacts on non-freeway streets. This is a bad idea from an induced demand standpoint and also completely unrealistic. It would cost billions, and if the city was unable to run the freeway through during the golden age of highway construction, it damned sure wouldn’t be able to do it now.
While we consider making through-driving more difficult on New York Avenue, we’re also making it easier on the Southeast Freeway. Maybe the long-term effect would be to move traffic bound for the House office buildings and the Southwest Federal Center area off New York Avenue and onto the newly-connected Anacostia Freeway-11th Street Bridges-Southeast Freeway route? That would enable improvements in Northeast, but at some cost to residents along the freeways. A worthwhile tradeoff?