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Activists Claim Congested Highway Can’t Be Expanded To Preserve Unique Design

A traffic jam is seen during the rush hour in Beijing June 14, 2006. China needs to improve public transport to help curb choking traffic jams instead of building more and more highways to make room for private cars, the World Bank said on Wednesday. REUTERS/ Jason Lee

A plan to overhaul a section of I-66 in Arlington, Va., has drawn criticism from a historical preservation group, which claims the ongoing construction project threatens the roadway’s unique appearance.

Preserve Arlington, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Arlington’s architectural heritage, included the Custis Memorial Parkway, where the project is taking place, on their annual list of “endangered historical places” published Wednesday.

Preserve Arlington’s annual list criticized the project for undermining “the roadway’s unique parkway design” and bemoaned the potential loss of 1980s infrastructure which, the group wrote, was “designed to a higher standard and created a multi-hued earth-toned appearance.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation project, known as “Transform 66,” will widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston in an effort to relieve beltway congestion. The plan would also add additional tolls and a pedestrian bridge in East Falls Church.

Much of the criticism levied by the historical group was related purely to the size and visibility of the highway infrastructure.

“Plantings are no longer maintained. Corten steel guardrails and sign supports are being replaced with standard, steel interstate highway components,” the group wrote. “The new toll road gantries, and large, new sign supports (and highway signage) on nearby arterial roads have further eroded the parkway’s ability to blend into its surroundings.”

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