Saturday, March 29, 2008

SOUTHWEST FREEWAY: Isn't It Already Named for Dwight Eisenhower?

FROM THE CITY PAPER, there's a report that D.C. Council member Marion Barry is pushing legislation to rename parts of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway complex of I-395 and I-295 (which includes a section that's actually an unsigned portion of I-695 ... if you can keep that all straight) in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But there's one problem if you're into cartography like me. If you examine some maps, the Southwest Freeway portion of the proposed renamed route already honors President Dwight D. Eisenhower (see photo). Honoring Dr. King is not the issue here, but on technical grounds it seems that the renaming could create a new layer of confusion to navigating D.C.'s chopped-up expressways.

Nichols Avenue in Ward 8 was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue many years ago. Barry is proposing that the 11th Street bridges, the Southeast-Southwest freeway complex and a portion of Maine Avenue up to its intersection with 15th Street SW/Raoul Wallenberg Place be renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Note the difference between Avenue and Drive. Most of the Drive portion is actually part of the Interstate highway system, while the Avenue portion is an existing D.C. roadway. (I've mapped it all here.)

While the extended King Avenue/Drive might make sense to Barry (it's perhaps the quickest route between Ward 8 and D.C. Council chambers at the Wilson Building) it might be incredibly confusing to those coming from Virginia or Northwest D.C., not to mention other quadrants.

The argument cuts in different ways. In any regard, it's awfully confusing.

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