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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 6, 2001
Contact: Lori Irving, (202) 366-0660
FHWA 10-01

U.S. Department of Transportation Completes Study of Ways to Improve Access to Kennedy Center

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in cooperation with the National Park Service, D.C. Department of Public Works and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has released a study that details ways to improve access to the Kennedy Center.

"The John F. Kennedy Center was created as the national cultural center for the people," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Like good neighbors, we are pleased to work with these organizations in developing plans to reconnect the people with this living memorial."

Currently, roads surrounding the Center form a physical barrier to the 5 million people who attend performances and visit the presidential memorial each year. As a result, pedestrians and bicyclists improvise dangerous paths to reach the Center. Since most performances begin near the end of the Washington's evening rush hour, traffic congestion causes undue risk and delay to patrons of the Kennedy Center.

The report explains that the key to improving access and relieving the center's current isolation is a proposed Kennedy Center Plaza. The plaza, which would be set upon a deck over the Potomac Freeway, would provide a new public space and stately approach to the center from the east. Both E and 25th Streets would connect to the plaza, thus reestablishing the local street grid. Additional traffic improvements have been identified to the center's north and south.

In addition to improving access, the plan's elements would increase safety, improve pedestrian and bicycle connections, relieve congestion and enhance the Center's setting.

The study's findings are an outgrowth of the National Capital Planning Commission's long range framework plan, "Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century."

Congress has appropriated an additional $10 million for project planning and environmental studies that are expected to begin later this year.

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