United States Senate
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Kennedy Center Access
June 4, 2002 B 9:00 am
Statement of Dan Tangherlini, Director
Good morning Chairman Jeffords and members of the Committee on Environment and Public Works.† Thank you for this opportunity to speak before the Committee.† My name is Dan Tangherlini and I am Acting Director of the Department of Transportation, District of Columbia Government.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a major national tourist attraction and the Washington Regionís premiere entertainment venue.† In the year 2000, the U.S. Department of Transportation published the Kennedy Center Access Study that was authorized by Congress in 1998.† The District Department of Transportation participated in this Study and is assisting in the subsequent environmental analysis currently underway.†
The District Department of Transportation recognizes the Kennedy Centerís severe transportation access constraints.† The 2000 Study documents the problems including:
-†† The series of freeways and parkways surrounding the Center which serve to isolate it from both District neighborhoods and the National Mall;††
-†† Evening commuter traffic congestion on the Rock Creek and Potomac Freeway and ramps to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge which interferes with performance-bound traffic to the Center;
-†† An absence of pedestrian and bicycle facilities offering safe and direct routes to the Center; and
-†† Inadequate access to the facility by public transit.† The study notes that the Foggy Bottom Metrorail Station, the Metrorail Station closest to the Kennedy Center, is one-half mile away.
The centerpiece of the proposed transportation access improvements would be the creation of a plaza, which would carry E Street NW directly into the Kennedy Center.† This plaza would be created by constructing a deck over the Potomac Freeway.† The plaza could include a public square and two building sites on either side of the extended E Street NW.
The District Department of Transportation strongly supports transportation improvements, which will eliminate the Kennedy Centerís physical isolation and connect the Center with the Foggy Bottom neighborhood and the Monumental Core of the City.† We also support the aesthetic vision of restoring the LíEnfant Plan street grid and economic opportunities that may be created by the project.†††
We respectfully suggest that the Federal government should fund this project through a special appropriation which would not impact the Districtís annual allocation of Federal Aid, and that the Federal Highway Administration should construct the improvements.†
The Centerís initial design concept provided pedestrian access to the Potomac River and vehicular access from the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, yet, due to funding constraints, the Kennedy Center was built in its isolated environment.† The level of improvements recommended by the study to correct the original access deficiencies is extensive.† The Access Study places the cost of improvements at $269 million.† By contrast, the District Department of Transportation spent approximately $255 million in construction activity in fiscal year 2001.†† Our entire annual apportionment and allocation for the current fiscal year is $126 million.
The District Department of Transportation cautions that the proposed improvements should not be considered independently of the District of Columbiaís transportation network.† The District is currently engaged in a study to develop solutions to the structural and operation constrains of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge. The Kennedy Center access project should be closely coordinated with the bridge study.†
In turn, both of these projects must be considered within a larger context of land use and transportation planning in the West End.† To adequately address transportation problems in the area, including the Kennedy Center, a comprehensive approach should include a corridor encompassing the Whitehurst Freeway, Lower K Street, and the Roosevelt Bridge.
In its discussion of the Kennedy Center in the Legacy Plan, the National Capital Planning Commission states that a successful transportation plan must extend beyond physical improvements and that behavioral changes must also occur. It explains that employers must develop traffic management programs to reduce congestion and travel times.
A comprehensive transportation planning approach to solutions will truly weave access to the Kennedy Center into the transportation fabric of the District of Columbia.
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide this testimony.