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IMPACT OF HIGHWAY PROGRAM ON REAL ESTATE Tax REVENUE The Bureau of Census recently reported that the Washington region has experienced the most rapid growth since 1960 of any metropolitan area in the United States. In the District of Columbia the growth in mainly reflected in more intensive land use, created through the replacement of old, obsolete structures by modern buildings. Private enterprise both unaided and in conjunction with urban renewal has undertaken the major share of this rebuilding. One of the main factors attracting investment capital within the central city is the accessibility to/from all parts of the region. In order for this renewal activity to continue it must be accompanied by improved access. Undoubtedly some redevelopment would take place if no new freeways were constructed, but it is unlikely that it would be at the same rate as is being experienced. This additional incentive to growth can be expected to more than offset the initial loss in tax revenue where land is acquired for highway purposes.
The experience in two areas where land was acquired for freeways, Foggy Bottom area (unaided private development) and Southwest (private development through the urban renewal program) is as follows:
In the Foggy Bottom area (bounded by L Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on the north, 24th Street on the east, F Street on the south, and the Rock Creek Parkway on the west minus the one square which will be in the Columbia Plaza urban renewal project) the real estate tax revenue collected in 1959, before the right-of-way taking for the Potomac River Freeway, was $281,387. The taking for the freeway reduced potential tax revenue by $33,096 at 1959 rates and assessed valuations. The 1964 estimated real estate tax revenue for the same area is $724,824 or slightly over 214 times the taxes collected in 1959 before the freeway taking. The 1964 estimate does not take into consideration the planned $45 million Watergate Towne project which is within the area. This project will further increase real estate tax revenue by an estimated $550,000 annually. For purposes of comparison, the 1964 estimated real estate tax revenue for the entire District of Columbia was 133 times the amount collected in 1959. During the period 1959 to 1964, the real estate tax rate increased from $2.30 per hundred assessed valuation to $2.50 per hundred.
In the southwest urban renewal area the assessed valuation of taxable properties, according to the Redevelopment Land Agency, was $27,029,000 before redevelopment and the right-of-way taking for the Southwest Freeway, and is estimated to be $143,563,000 after redevelopment and construction of the freeway. This later value is 513 times the former. The land taken for the freeway froin the Washington Channel crossing to South Capitol Street on the east and Independence Avenue on the north, had an assessed valuation of $2,444,900; however, due to the diversion of traffic from local streets to the freeway, a net of 37 acres of highway right-of-way was turned over to the Redevelopment Land Agency for redevelopment. It should be pointed out that due solely to the Federal office building complex within the renewal area the amount of taxable land within the are was actually reduced by a net of 6.4 acres.
Senator METCALF. Now I am pleased that this proposed tunnel, if it is built, will extend on beyond Independence Avenue and pass the Rayburn Office Building. I feel that that would be very necessary, I went down and looked at some of these tunnels that you talked about that we could compare, and it seems to me that at the edge of the Capitol Grounds over by the Esso Building and over by the Rayburn Building there is going to be a maze of roads coming in and coming out. How much ground are you going to take at each end!
Mr. WHITTON. We haven't seen those design plans yet, sir.
Mr. Wuitton. No, sir. We will just say we haven't seen the plans or the detail of the design.
Senator METCALF. Probably, Mr. Chairman, most of these questions should be addressed to General Duke.
Mr. Whitton. Yes, sir.
Senator COOPER. Mr. Whitton, part of the argument in your PFT statement rests upon the necessity for completing the defense highway
system, better known as the Interstate Highway System.
Senator Cooper. Has this center leg been designated as a part of the Interstate System.
Mr. WHITTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. WHITTON. The original designation was shown in this booklet that was published in September 1955.
Senator Cooper. I don't want to take up too much time, but would you outline step by step the procedure followed for the approval of a segment of the Interstate Highway System, particularly as it refers to the District of Columbia.
Mr. Whitton. Yes, sir. On September the 15th, 1955-~Senator COOPER. Without going into dates, what procedures are followed?
Mr. WHITTON. I would like to ask Mr. Barnett to give you that. Mr. BARNETT. The September 1955 designation was done at the request of the Bureau to complete the then 40,000-mile system. A few thousand miles were reserved for routes into, through, and around urban areas, and all the States submitted their requests.
They were analyzed by the Bureau, and those that were approved by the then Commissioner of Public Roads were documented in this yellow book that Mr. Whitton spoke about. That simply designated a general location for the system to insure their continuity and their integration, which is, of course, in accordance with the Highway Act.
Subsequent to that, for each designated route, there is an appeal by
That doesn't tie it down to a street.
Mr. BARNETT. Yes, sir.
This is still given tentative approval, and that sets the corridor concept of the center leg. It could be shifted one block either way. Of course in a rural area it could be shifted a half a mile either but in an urban area it might be a shift of one block, depending upon a more detailed analysis particularly of costs, its effect on the neighborhood, the kinds of property that would be destroyed, the kinds of property that could be saved by minor shifts.
This analysis includes all the engineering and socioeconomic effects that go into the construction of highways in urban areas.
This has also been done and given tentative approval by our division office, so that right now the center leg
Senator Cooper. Given tentative approval by whom?
Senator COOPER. In the District of Columbia ?
Mr. BARNETT. Yes, sir. Then this is sufficient-we don't give final approval until there is a public hearing, and the Highway Department has considered the material that has been submitted at the public hearing, and has considered the economic effects of the location. Senator COOPER. Now have public hearings been held?
T Mr. BARNETT. A public hearing was held on September 23, 1963. Senator COOPER. What is the next step?
Mr. BARNETT. The next step is awaiting a formal proposal by the District Highway Department for final approval, and Mr. Whitton has indicated to the Highway Department that since this particular location crosses the grounds of the Capitol, he would not give such approval until, while we were satisfied with the location, he would not give such formal approval until the Congress enabled, passed the legislation enabling, the highway to be constructed across these grounds.
That is the reason for the bill in front of you now.
Senator COOPER. Is the approval of the District of Columbia Commissioners required?
Mr. BARNETT. They made the proposal to us.
Senator COOPER. Have the Commissioners of the District of Columbia approved this center leg?
Mr. BARNETT. You might ask General Duke. I imagine they have or they wouldn't have proposed it to us.
Senator COOPER. Are funds available?
Senator COOPER. Do you know whether District funds are available?
Mr. WHITTON. I don't know, Senator,
Senator Cooper. Have any detailed plans been prepared showing the location and the specifics for this center leg?
Mr. BARNETT. In sufficient detail for us to approve the location between Third and Second Streets and the location that is before you for this tunnel. In more detail you will have to ask the District.
They probably have later plans than the ones I saw.
Mr. BARNETT. I have got some old plans here which have not been changed as I understand it for a couple of years now, between Third Street and Second Street.
Senator COOPER. Why hasn't the center leg been approved by the Bureau of Public Roads?
Mr. BARNETT. I tried to explain, Senator, that the administrator would not give formal approval until we were sure that it could be built, and it could not be built without enabling legislation from this committee to construct it under the Capitol Grounds.
Senator Cooper. Do you know whether or not alternative plans have been suggested such as extending the tunnel, which is proposed to go under the Capitol Grounds, through a longer portion of the center leg, rather than constructing a depressed highway?
Mr. BARNETT. No, sir. Of course, when you extend the tunnel the cost mounts up.
Senator COOPER. Mr. Whitton, you said in your statement, and I read on page 1:
"While this tunnel will in no way disturb the appearance of these grounds” referring to the Capitol Grounds, you then said that of course you have not seen the plans or the design. I think you said that.
Mr. WHITTON. Yes, sir.
Senator COOPER. With all due respect you express the judgment without having seen the plans or any designs that the tunnel would not affect in any way the appearance of the Capitol Grounds. Don't you think that we have some responsibility to determine from models or from plans whether or not it would affect the appearance of the Capitol Grounds or that portion of lands which are adjacent to the Capitol Grounds?
Mr. Whitton. Senator, I certainly do think that you have some responsibility, and I am sure that is why I am here this morning trying to convince you that it will be feasible and it will not deter from the general appearance of the Capitol after it is completed, and will render service to the people who want to come to the center part of the city.
Senator COOPER. You said you haven't seen any plans. You haven't seen any model of course.
Mr. WHITTON. No, sir.
Senator COOPER. I was very much interested the other day in hearing General Duke and others say that they were not able to give any specific information on these points. I was also interested to learn that no one has been able, except under a good deal of pressure, to find out what the cost would be. Wouldn't that be a fundamental fact that the Bureau would know?
I think the other day I asked this of General Duke and he wasn't able to give me an estimate of the cost. That was last week.
Mr. Whitton. This project has not proceeded to the stage where a factual estimate is available. They have made estimates of their judgment of what the cost will be based on other tunnels and experiences but the actual detailed plans for this have not been prepared, pending approval by the Congress, and until they are prepared, our estimates are going to be rather vague but I think close enough for us to determine that the project is justified. I haven't seen the estimate myself, but I think Senator Metcalf said that the District had used the figure of $71 million, didn't you, Senator?
Senator METCALF. That was the testimony that was presented.
Mr. WHITTON. And no doubt that will be the estimate that we will use in the cost-benefit determination. As the Senator spoke so wisely, we sometimes say you can't do it. It costs too much for the service rendered, and I have to admit to having made some of those statements, perhaps with reference to Montana.
But there will be a detailed estimate prepared. There will be an estimate on which we can be sure of ourselves.
Senator COOPER. Is it correct that it will be necessary to build access roads from this proposed depressed freeway connecting the tunnel on either side of the Capitol Grounds.
Would you have to have roads that move into this highwy?
Mr. WHITTON. Senator, I think that close or nearby the exits or the mouths of the tunnel there should be roads that you could get
off of the open freeway and drive into the central district, and also it Coo that you can get on to the expressway. Again I am not trying to adordodge anything, Senator. I am not going to testify to anything I BLANET don't know.
Senator COOPER. Yes, I understand that, Mr. Whitton. I under.Ru stand that very well.
Mr. WHITTON. I wish you would understand.
Mr. WHITTON. Thank you, sir. I have not seen the detailed plans Fos or the proposed plans for an entrance beyond the tunnel. Personally plan I think there should be, but whether we can work it out in this par-BESE ticular area, and how it can be worked out, I don't know yet.
Senator COOPER. There is a possibility that at the entrance to the bedron tunnel, you would have a complex of roads which would lead out from BAENE the highway into the streets.
Mr. WHITTON. Yes, sir; I think it is probable that there will be not some kind of an interchange so that you can get on and off of the band fra Interstate System near the north end and near the south end of the fo tunnel, so it would adequately serve the area.
Senator Cooper. That would be very near the Capitol grounds?
Mr. BARNETT. Senator Cooper, if I were designing the freeway, and from what I have seen up to now this would be the logical de To sign, take the portal north of the tunnel north of Constitution Avenue des I would prefer to take, and I think they will take, all the right-of-way between Second and Third Streets. Second and Third Streets remain as they are now, serving the adjoining land, and at the same time serving the freeway. By means of slip ramps you go to and from the freeway to either Second Street or Third Street and thus have access to all the cross streets.
This is a proven type of freeway for urban areas where the cost of right-of-way is very high. The cost of land in the District of Columbia is very high, not only for first cost but we would naturally want to take as little land out of the tax rolls as possible. So an engineer would not normally design a complex with a lot of inner loops and things of that nature, but would choose the type of design that would take as little land as possible, and that is the type of design that would probably be used. But General Duke probably has the latest design on that.
I am sure they must have a preliminary design and a preliminary estimate on this by now.
Senator COOPER. Would there be very much noise at the entrances to these tunnels?
Mr. BARNETT. There will be very much noise but no more noise than there is on the streets of the District today. We have made tests in that direction. Continuous moving traffic actually makes less noise than stop and go traffic, and with the tunnel, of course, vou will have the advantage of not having noise on the Capitol Grounds.
Senator COOPER. What do you do about fumes in the tunnel?
Mr. BARNETT. A tunnel of this length will require artificial ventilation, and there is nothing mysterious about that. It has been done in several cities.