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Could a Parking Lot Solve the National Mall’s Congestion Problems?

  • July 2, 2014

by Lark Turner

Could a Parking Lot Solve the National Mall's Congestion Problems?: Figure 1

If this advocacy group gets its way, the ubiquitous sight of the idling tour bus awaiting its passengers on the Mall may disappear for good.

The National Coalition to Save Our Mall, a group that advocates for the historic integrity and preservation of the Mall, wants to better protect the Mall’s surface and its surrounding museums from flooding. To manage that, the government would have to build large cisterns. And as long as we’re digging around down there, the group suggests we may as well pop in some parking to help pay for it all.

The cost is significant. WJLA reports the plan is estimated to run between $168 and $248 million. And since the land is under the jurisdiction of a lot of different agencies, it would require an uncommon effort to make it happen.

Could a Parking Lot Solve the National Mall's Congestion Problems?: Figure 2

The group claims the main purpose of the below-ground project, dubbed the National Mall Underground, would be to manage big floods like the one that occurred in 2006 and damaged museums. The underground facility would provide more than 1,000 car and bus parking spaces and hold 34 million gallons of water. Plus, its purpose could be expanded, the group noted in a 2013 presentation, to include restrooms, a welcome center for tourists, a place for bus drivers to hang out and maybe a restaurant. You can check out a visualization of how it might work here.

An advocate for the proposal told WTOP that Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton are at work on a draft of legislation allowing construction. If it ever passed, it may take 5-6 years to complete.

Images: Karolina Kawiaka

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/could_a_parking_lot_solve_the_national_malls_congestion_problems/8691

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