The District is considering making Theodore Roosevelt Bridge a car-pool and bus-only bridge during rush hours, if 1-66 is built through Arlington.
The interstate route connecting the Shenandoah Valley to Washington, which has been blocked for 20 years, is scheduled to face a new legal test Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Barring a long trial, say Virginia highway officials, the link to the District could be completed within four years.
1-66 will reduce automobile commuting into the Nation's Capital by about 20,000 cars a day. Virginia predicts, because the highway will be resticted to buses and car pools during rush hour - which shoudl entice commuters away from their cars. The district is skeptical about this estimate, however, and doubts a car pool and buses only policy will work or last long.
But to help make it work, the city's department of transportation is considering shutting the bridge to all cars except those with four ormore occupants - similar to Norther Virginia's successufl Shirley Highway (1.95) bus and car pool express lanes.
Trucks are banned from Roosevelt Bridge already. But Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) and the George Washington Memorial Parkway feed onto it on the Virginia side of the Potomac and several Mall area avenues and streets near the Mennedy Center feed onto it on the District side.
The city has opposed completion of 1-66 for the past two years, fearful that it will further aggravate traffic away from Metro," says James Clark, assistant director of the Districts transportation department.
Clark's boss, Douglas N. Dchneider Jr., said in Senate testimony in May that Virginia's car pool and bus limitation appeared to be a device the state used to get federal permission to build the controversial highway, a policy it could and probably changed after the road was built.
There will be "tremendous pressure" to allow general traffic on1-66, especially if the four-lane road isn't used to capacity by buses and car pools. Such neider said, and "frankly, I think that's what the strategy is."
After U.S. Transportation Secretary William T. Coleman vetoed federal funds for the highway in 1975 - apparently killing it - Virginia proposed the present plan for a four-lane "parkway," depressed to reduce its intrusion into the Arlington neighborhoods it would pass through, excluding trucks and limiting its use during rush hour.
Virginia also agreed to make $30 million in state highway funds available for Metro subway construction, funds previously denied, and promised by building the 1-66 median so Metro would have less work when putting its Falls Church line there. Coleman reversed his decision in January, just before he left office, a decision the present Transportation Secretary, Brock Adams, has reaffirmed. Both secretaries stressed that getting Metro built and securing state aid for it were crucial in their decisions.
Now, however, Metro isn't sure it wants to build a line along 1-66 at all. Its Fairfax County representatives contend a subway out to Falls Church is no longer necessary because 1-66 will be built and provide ample means of transportation. No decision on Metro is epected
Before Virginia proposed a restricted four-lane 1-66 "parkway," with Metro concessions to sweeten the package, ti had planned to build a 6-or 8-lane "super highway," beas much as 10 or 12 lanes in some sections. It also would have requied two bridges over the Potomac, since trucks are prohibited on Roosevelt Bridge.
Which was how 1-66 began in controversy in the mid-1950s, even before if coiuld get across the Potomac River.
Until the District began oposing 1-66 two years ago it had spent 20 years pushing for its completion - the federal government and evey Washington area jurisdication of Roovelt Bridge over the strong opposition of the National Park Service and the Fine Arts Commission. Thus it is now in the uniqe position of opposing the highway it built the bridge for.
President Eisenhower confounded the highwaymen he left office by permanently banning truck traffic from Roosevelt Bridge. The bridge, which cuts across George Washington Memorial Parkwqy and Theodore Roosevelt Island, a nature sancturay and memorial to the conservation-minded Presdent, put more then 10 acres of bridge ramps at the west end of the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial and funnelled much of its traffic directly onto the Mall, including roads where truck traffic is banned.
The no-truck decision forcd highewy planners to attemtp to build yet another bridge for 1-66 traffic, Three Sisters Bridge, called the 1-66 truck route when it was first proposed. It in turn would have forced additional highway construction through parkland along Spout Run, the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the C & O Canal, as well as putting a bridge just abobe Georgetown at one of the Potomac's more scenic spots.
When the Three Sisters Bridge was finally killed - and funds for it were transfered for other transportation purosed only two months ago - it forced the 1-66 route back over no-truck Roosevelt Bridge.
Although 1-66 is now being called a "compromise highway" - just as Roovsevelt was called "the compromise bridge" when it was dedicated in 1964 - it is still opposed by several civic and conservation groups, including the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations and the Arlington Transportation Coalition (ACT). It was ACT which temporarliy blocked 1.66 in the courts from 1972 until last February.
U.S. Sistrict Court Judge Oren R. Lewis, who will hear the present 1.66 suit, had issued the 1972 injunction until Virginia has held additional public hearings, prepared an enviromental impact statement and gotten 1!66 approved by the U.S. Secretary of Transpotation. When Coleman's blessing came in January Judge Lewis dissolved the injunction and said "It seems to me if they have done A,B,C, and D then they can proceed to build it..."
He told ACT attorneys in a preliminary court proceeding july 15: "You're not going to delay this road forever. There comes a time when the good citizens of Viginia and ... the District--I'll put them all together --have a right to know the finality of (1.66)."