Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.) may have described the L-shaped site at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue as a "parking lot of surpassing ugliness," but it is quite beautiful to the hundreds of car pools and van pools that park there each day. And it's a lot cheaper than Metro. In fact, it's the last parking lot of any size in the area. All the rest have been eliminated by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp.
Although Moynihan's bill envisions that the new Cultural and Trade Center will provide between 1,300 and 2,600 parking spaces, there's talk that providing parking (underground) along Pennsylvania Avenue can be difficult because the soil is marshy. Thus, the vision vanishes.
How do Moynihan and other members of Congress get to the Capitol? If by chauffeured limos instead of Metro, are their parked presence unsightly?
Milstead L. Grant
The vast Cultural and Trade Center to be built behind and beside the District Building at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW sounds like an exciting substitute for the Great Plaza that was originally proposed for the site. But the Great Plaza would have permitted some traffic flow and a few decks of underground parking beneath the shrubbery.
Let us hope that the massive new building will provide much more parking than the present lot and that the transit bus turnaround at 13th Street will not be eliminated. More parking will be needed for additional visitors to the center, for the visitors to the White House and the nearby tourist center in the Commerce building, for shoppers in the new downtown and for the additional employees in the new building.
And don't believe that old saw that you can't go underground because of the swamp. They said the same thing about the subway. Parking garages were built under Grant Park in downtown Chicago on the former swampy lake front. And Geneva, Switzerland, put its parking garage under the waters of the lake.
Another plea is not to remove the convenient circulation provided by 13 1/2 Street and D Street around the District Building. They are very practical when making visits to our "city hall."
It is important that the 1,300 spaces at Federal Triangle be replaced. Jay Brodie, executive director of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, has already noted that there may be a problem with underground parking at the site because of soil conditions. The number of proposed spaces, 1,300 to 2,600, would imply one to two full stories of parking, if built above ground. Planning should begin now so that these spaces will not be lost, either because of soil conditions or because of aesthetics.
A bigger concern is: what will workers and tourists use for parking while this edifice is being built? If it really will take almost five years to complete, there must be some parking available in the meantime. This site is particularly in demand for those going to the District Building and the federal buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue. It is imperative that the parking issue be addressed as the planning progresses, and not as an afterthought.