For most of nearly 27 years on this newspaper, I've been writing stories about I-66. Although it seems like yesterday, I walked over the inner part of its alignment from Spout Run to Rosslyn in 1963, carefully noting the apartments and houses that stood in its projected path. I wrote then that the road would soon -- soon, ha! -- be built.
So yesterday, on the opening day of the I-66 extension inside the Capital Beltway, I drove the new 10-mile route back and forth. From a motorist's standpoint, it's a fine road, however much distress some Arlingtonians may feel about its existence.
Viewed from I-66, however, Arlington is something else. It looks as though there's no there there, as the late Gertrude Stein once (inaccurately) said of Oakland, the California city that is our shared birthplace.
About the only things the motorist sees of Arlington from I-66 are (1) an incredibly ugly blue building at Fairfax Drive and Glebe Road, (2) a church steeple in serious need of painting, (3) the underside of the Washington-Lee High School parking deck and (4) the inelegant backside of the Lyon Village shopping center. The Rosslyn skyline, by contrast, seems attractive.