If mid-century traffic planners had their way, DC would have been the land of the freeway. One 1950 plan envisioned parts of Connecticut Avenue as an express highway. It also would have placed a “dominant thoroughfare” to the east of Connecticut through Forest Hills, and an “express parkway” connecting Nebraska Avenue and Military Road.
The Greater Greater Washington piece on the highway plan doesn’t address whether community opposition played a role in quashing the plan.
We do know this community has successfully protested some other development plans, including:
A TV tower that would have stood at what is now Park Connecticut at 4411 Connecticut Avenue. Evening Star Broadcasting said in 1969 that the tower would be handsome, dignified, and an asset to the community.
In the early 2000s, community opposition to the increased traffic a new school would bring saved the 120-year-old Owl’s Nest on Gates Road from possible demolition. Another developer has since made it his home.
Most recently, the community defeated Chick-fil-A’s plan to move in at 4422 Connecticut Avenue. This was also about traffic.
Not all discarded plans wither under community scrutiny. Some must contend with the realities of geography and spending priorities. So Albemarle Street does not tie this neighborhood to Mount Pleasant despite the efforts of one well-connected resident well over a century ago.
This reminds us of an idea worth further consideration. The District still owns the right-of-way between that dead-end and Broad Branch.
Four years ago, former ANC 3F Commissioner Bob Summersgill proposed a trail connecting the two – and “bike staircase” for the steep grade that confounded city planners a century ago.
“If we could put stairs there,” Summersgill wrote, “with adjacent ramps to walk bicycles up and down, Forest Hills could be connected safely to Broad Branch Road for cyclists. There is a similar staircase at the end of the Metropolitan Branch Trail on L street.”