Proposed Kennedy Center Metro Stop Too Expensive

Interesting. Imagine if the Kennedy Center had its own Metro station. The walk from Foggy Bottom is kind of a pain in the ass. Unfortunately for the Kennedy Center, they’re still stuck in no man’s land without easy access to public transit.

Here’s an article that we dug up in the Washington Post from February 18th, 1966, a full ten years before Metro opened up.

Rerouting Washington’s proposed subway system to provide direct service to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would cost at least $12.3 million and cause a myriad of problems, the National Capital Transportation agency chief has reported.

In a letter to several legislators who had requested a study, NCTA Administrator Walter J. McCarter said putting a basement station in the Center “would increase construction, operating, maintenance and land acquisition costs.”

The closest station under the plan approved by Congress would be at 23d and H streets, nw. about a 6-minute walk from the Center, McCarter said.

“In their own interests, the Center may wish to enhance the relationship to the station by constructing a pleasant, above-ground walkway from the station to the Center,” affording “a stimulating view of the building and its riverside setting,” he said.

Changing the subway route would require other station shifts and a resulting decrease in service for the system’s riders “to sreve [sic] the modest additional number of Cultural Center patrons, who might ride rail transit if a station were in the basement” instead of where it is planned, McCarter noted.

Rep. William B. Widnall (R-N.J.), who has been urging that the Center be shifted to a downtown location, cited McCarter’s report as support for his argument that the Center’s plans should be reviewed.

Though, such a review would be costly, he said, “It would save millions of dollars in an effort to bail out an economically infeasible location.”

McCarter’s repor dealt only with the problem of changing the subway route and did not comment on the merits of the Center site. One issue in the controversy has been the accessibility of the present site, particularly for the poor.

Construction for the Kennedy Center had only started the previous December, and wasn’t completed until 1971. How different do you think things would be if there was a stop in the basement?

Kennedy Center from the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
Kennedy Center from the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

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