This 2004 photo shows the northbound Kenilworth Avenue Freeway (DC 295) approaching the exit for Burroughs Avenue / Minnesota Avenue. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)
EXTENDING THE BW PARKWAY INTO D.C. PROPER: Conceived by the National Capital Park and Planning Commission (NCPPC) in 1950 as part of the metropolitan area's postwar traffic plans, the Kenilworth Avenue Freeway was conceived to connect the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295) with the Anacostia Freeway and East Capitol Street. Unlike the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to the north, the proposed Kenilworth Avenue Freeway was to be open to all vehicles.
Work began on widening the existing Kenilworth Avenue in 1952 at the site of the East Capitol Street interchange. The existing two-lane avenue was widened to a six-lane controlled access freeway from East Capitol Street north to the District of Columbia-Maryland border, and flanking one-way service roads were built from Burroughs Avenue north to Eastern Avenue. More than 30 homes and businesses, as well as a church, were acquired for the freeway over the vocal opposition of community groups.
An unusual three-level interchange was built at Benning Road, whose configuration was as follows:
The three southbound through lanes were built on the lowest level. Slip ramps were built to connect to Benning Road.
The three northbound through lanes were built on the middle level. A collector-distributor (C/D) lane built as a left exit / entrance from the main roadway provided connections to the Benning Road slip ramps.
The four-lane Benning Road crosses the Kenilworth Avenue Freeway and the adjacent railroad right-of-way on the top level.
Just north of Benning Road, a railroad trestle was built over the freeway to connect the adjacent freight line to the PEPCO Benning Road coal-fired power plant. The bill proposing the railroad spur over the freeway was mired in Congress for more than a year before it passed.
The Kenilworth Avenue Freeway, whose $8.5 million construction cost was financed 50-50 by the Federal and district governments, opened to traffic on October 25, 1957. Undesignated for many years, the freeway received DC 295 reassurance shields from the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DCDOT) during the late 1990's to maintain continuity with the Anacostia Freeway (I-295) and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295).
According to the DCDOT, the Kenilworth Avenue Freeway carries approximately 130,000 vehicles per day (AADT).
This 2004 photo shows the northbound Kenilworth Avenue Freeway (DC 295) approaching the Eastern Avenue underpass, which marks the District of Columbia-Maryland border. The interchange with US 50 (New York Avenue Industrial Freeway / John Hanson Highway) lies about one-half mile ahead. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)
PROVIDING A REJUVENATED GATEWAY FROM THE NORTHEAST: In October 2004, the DCDOT initiated a two-year study to improve mobility, safety, and aesthetics along the Kenilworth Avenue corridor. The study, which is part of the much larger Anacostia Waterfront initiative, proposed the following alternatives:
ALTERNATIVE 1 (BOULEVARD): The existing six-lane freeway and flanking service roads would be replaced by an eight-lane arterial boulevard with traffic lights at major intersections. Slip ramps would be built at side streets.
ALTERNATIVE 2 (IMPROVE EXISTING SURFACE-LEVEL FREEWAY): The existing six-lane freeway and flanking service roads would be maintained, but landscaping would be added between the freeway and service roads. Additional trees would be planted between the freeway and railroad rights-of-way.
ALTERNATIVE 3 (DEPRESSED FREEWAY): The existing six-lane freeway would be rebuilt below grade level. Landscaping would be added between the freeway and service roads. Additional trees would be planted between the freeway and railroad rights-of-way.
To enhance community access to nearby mass transit, alternatives 2 and 3 feature proposed street overpasses at Hayes Street (for the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station) and Ord Street (for the Deanwood Metro Station). Other potential improvements include a reconstruction of the Benning Road interchange as a traditional "diamond" interchange and a rebuilt, landscaped "gateway" overpass at Eastern Avenue.
The DCDOT has not made cost estimates or construction schedules available.
These diagrams from the Kenilworth Avenue Corridor Study site show potential lane configurations for Alternative 2 (improve existing freeway) and Alternative 3 (rebuild as depressed freeway). (Diagrams from Kenilworth Avenue Corridor Study / DCDOT web site, www.kacsite.com.)
EXTEND EXIT NUMBERING: The exit numbering scheme for the I-295 section of the Anacostia Freeway should be extended north along DC 295 (Anacostia and Kenilworth Avenue freeways).
SOURCES: The Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital and Its Environs, National Capital Park and Planning Commission (1950); "Six-Lane Northeast Highway Fought," The Washington Post (5/26/1953); "Funds To Finish East Capitol Span Sought for 1953" by Richard L. Lyons, The Washington Post (9/10/1953); "Kenilworth Underpass, Interchange To Be Opened in Rites Next Week" by Jack Eisen, The Washington Post (10/17/1957); "Dr. Gridlock: Namely, Confusion," The Washington Post (7/07/1989); "Kenilworth Avenue Study," District of Columbia Department of Transportation (2005); Scott Kozel; Alexander Svirsky; Douglas A. Willinger; William F. Yurasko.
DC 295 shield by James Lin. Lightpost photos by Jim K. Georges.