As a Georgetown resident of many years, I have watched the construction of some very fine buildings along K Street on both sides of the Whitehurst Freeway. From cursory inspection, it is evident that the architects and developers do not expect the Whitehurst Freeway to last forever, or even much longer. Residents of Georgetown share this hope.
Replacement of the Whitehurst Freeway has been suggested often, but the only proposals so far amount to tunneling below the Potomac water level or greatly enlarging K Street along the waterfront. Let alone the cost, those who recall hurricane Agnes are not happy with either solution. There is another idea, however, which has not yet been considered.
A tunnel is needed, but not along the river. Visualize a tunnel dug into the hill at the Georgetown end of the Key Bridge, curving gently down and to the right, and exiting beneath the Oak Hill Cemetery on a level to intersect Rock Creek (or Beach) Drive just north of the Q Street Buffalo Bridge. Outbound traffic currently using the Whitehurst Freeway would proceed a little farther up Rock Creek Drive, turn left into the tunnel, and exit exactly where the freeway does now, at Key Bridge. Inbound traffic would plunge into the tunnel at the M Street and Key Bridge intersection.
My submarine-trained eye says the terrain in Georgetown is amply high to tunnel safely and quietly under all the houses and basements along the track, that the advantages of this scheme are obvious and disruption of the area would be minimal. The result would be the elimination of an eyesore, maximization of the natural attractiveness of K Street (Water Street, originally) and substantial enhancement of property values in that area. This ought to please everyone.
-- Edward L. Beach