Several proposals for upgrading Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. Route 1) through Arlington were presented in two public hearings last week by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation.
The state began to improve the road in 1976 with construction of Interstate 595, a six-lane highway designed to run from Interstate 395 through Crystal City to Reed Avenue. The work was halted in November 1976, however, by an order from the U.S. District Court for separate public hearings on the location and design of the highway. The department had considered both issues in a single public hearing before construction began.
The alternatives presented by the department last week were:
Continuing to build Interstate 595 as originally planned in 1976.
Using Eads Street and Route 1 as parallel one-way streets north of Fort Scott Drive.
Using Ball Street and Route 1 as parallel one-way streets.
Upgrading the present highways to a six-lane road with turning lanes.
Retaining the current highway with no improvements.
Several speakers at the meetings favored the last proposal. Some suggested that the money saved could be used to help finance Metro construction.
Barbara McAnich said that an upgraded highway is not needed because the traffic is clogged on both ends by the 14th Street Bridge and the Monroe Street Bridge during rush hours.
"It does no good to widen the center of a bottle when you have bottlenecks on both ends," she said.
Other speakers said they doubted the department's prediction that traffic will make a larger road necessary by 1995. Robert Gratton, general manager of the Hospitality House Motor Inn in Crystal City, said, "I'd like to know why there's a need for the highway." He said that I-595 would "divide" Crystal City. "Look at Shirlington," he said, "Shirlington was killed by Shirley Highway."
Highway department representatives taped the speakers' comments. After considering the comments, the department will choose one proposal. If they decide to build a highway, department officials must prepare a draft environmental impact statement. They must then hold public hearings on the location and design.