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Interstate 295 Maryland / District of Columbia

 

Routing

Interstate 295 is the southern half of the Anacostia Freeway in a small portion of Maryland and in southern District of Columbia, between Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway and Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway. (Note: This routing assumes FHWA concurrence with changes to the routing of both Interstate 295 and Interstate 695 in the District of Columbia.)

History

Interstate 295 and Interstate 695 have had considerable changes in its routing through the years, mostly as a result to resistance to new freeway construction in Washington, D.C., after the initial freeway network was built. Both Interstate 295 and Interstate 695 were approved in 1958 as original Interstate highways in D.C. Interstate 295 was approved from the Capital Beltway in Maryland and the District of Columbia north along the Anacostia Freeway, 11th Street Bridges across the Anacostia River, and East Leg Freeway from there north to meet Interstate 95. Interstate 695 was approved as a short, east-west freeway that would link Interstate 95 (now Interstate 395/Center Leg Freeway) and Interstate 295.

Due to the elimination of and changes to various freeway proposals throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, Interstate 295 was eventually shortened to end at Interstate 695. Plans to extend Interstate 295 further north to rejoin proposed Interstate 95 met with an anti-freeway revolt in the 1960s and 1970s, and thus neither route was built. To alleviate traffic associated with the missing connection, a new proposal was set in 1982 to extend Interstate 695 east along the unconstructed Barney Circle Freeway to allow a freeway connection between the central district and northbound District of Columbia 295/Kenilworth Avenue. The Barney Circle Freeway proposal was met with similar resistance and was removed from consideration in 1996. (Note: the Barney Circle Freeway was listed in the Federal Highway Administration Interstate Route Log and Finder's List as part of Interstate 295, but all planning documents listed this freeway as Interstate 695). About a decade later in 2007, planners developed a plan to reconstruct the Southeast Freeway (formerly Interstate 295) to include new bridges over the Anacostia River and ensure full movements between the Southeast Freeway and the Anacostia Freeway. Construction should extend between 2009 and 2014.1

To that end, at the AASHTO meeting of May 15, 2009, the routing of Interstate 295 and Interstate 695 were clarified as follows (quoting directly from the application presented to AASHTO by the District of Columbia Department of Transportation):

    I-295 begins at I-95 in Maryland near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. It runs north into DC where it turns west at an interchange with DC 295 to cross the Anacostia River via the 11th Street Bridges. On the west side of the river, I-295 turns north at an interchange with I-695 and extends to its terminus at Pennsylvania Avenue at the Barney Circle. The planned route for I-295 continues north from Barney Circle to East Capitol Street near RFK Stadium, and then northwest through the city to an interchange with other unbuilt freeways near New York Avenue. The segment of I-295 north of East Capitol Street was withdrawn in 1978. The unbuilt portion between Barney Circle and East Capitol Street was never officially withdrawn. Because I-295 was not completed, the system ramps that provide route continuity from the 11th Street Bridges to Barney Circle are operationally obsolete and have been closed to traffic for several years. The District is requesting de-designation of 2.05 miles of I-295 from the interchange with DC 295 to East Capitol Street. This includes 1.24 miles of existing I-295 and 0.81 miles of unbuilt I-295. After de-designation, I-295 will become a continuous freeway with DC 295, which will serve to rationalize the interstate system in the District. The portion of I-295 between I-695 and Pennsylvania Avenue will be converted to an urban boulevard with connections into the neighborhood street system. The future disposition of additional right-of-way no longer needed for highway purposes will be determined by the District and FHWA. The portion of I-295 between DC 295 and I-695 will be redesignated as I-695 under a separate request.2

AASHTO approved this request to realign Interstate 295 and Interstate 695, contingent upon FHWA concurrence. Since the construction project will continue until 2014, concurrence may take several years to achieve.

Several Interstate highway freeway proposals that were proposed to connect the center of the district with the suburbs to the north, northeast, and northwest never materialized. These freeway proposals include:

  • Interstate 66 (Potomac River Freeway and North Leg Freeway) was planned for an extension from U.S. 29/Whitehurst Freeway east to Interstate 95, with connections to the U.S. 50 freeway en route to Annapolis.
  • Interstate 95 was originally planned to run through the district, via Interstate 395 to U.S. 50, then north along a new alignment that would link with existing northern Interstate 95 interchange with the Capital Beltway.
    • Center Leg Freeway - now known as Interstate 395 between Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway and U.S. 50 - groundbreaking in 1966 and open to traffic on November 5, 1973.3
    • Continuation of the Center Leg Freeway north to meet Interstate 66/North Leg Freeway and the Capital Beltway was never constructed. Some of this former freeway right of way remains visible as a power transmission corridor.
  • Interstate 266 - never built Three Sisters Bridge over the Potomac River between Virginia and the District of Columbia that would connect to Interstate 66 at either end; route was proposed in 1964 and was dead by 1977 due to community opposition.
  • Interstate 270 was planned for an extension from its current southern terminus at the Capital Beltway/Interstate 495 into downtown Washington roughly parallel to Maryland 355 (Old U.S. 240) along one of two proposed but never-built freeway corridors: continuation of the Potomac River Freeway (north of Interstate 66) or Northwest Freeway.4
  • Interstate 295/East Leg Freeway - from Barney Circle north to unbuilt Interstate 95

In the past, there has been some controversy about the exact location of Interstate 295's southern terminus: at the Capital Beltway or at Maryland 210. While there were plans to extend the freeway south toward Indian Head, the freeway is no longer planned for extension. As such, Interstate 295 now ends at Interstate 95-495 (Capital Beltway) in Oxon Hill (Fort Washington), Maryland, not Indian Head. The short freeway segment between Maryland 210/Indian Head Highway and Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway is considered to be part of Maryland 210. Indian Head, which is located in the next county south, is connected to the beltway and Interstate 295 via this freeway branch of Maryland 210. Prior signage showed the ramp as Interstate 295 when it was technically a continuation of Maryland 210. The entire interchange between Interstate 295 and Interstate 95-495 was reconstructed as part of the larger Wilson Bridge Reconstruction Project in the mid-2000s. At that time, the Maryland DOT/SHA modified the signs on Interstate 295 southbound to read "Maryland 210 South - Indian Head" instead of "Interstate 295 South - Indian Head."

For more on Washington's freeways, there are two excellent sites that have much more detail than we do here. Please see Scott Kozel's District of Columbia Interstate Freeways or Steve Anderson's District of Columbia Roads.

Kenilworth Avenue Freeway

This section of freeway, built around Kenilworth Avenue, is designated District of Columbia 295 and has seen improvements. With the changes to the routing of Interstate 295 and Interstate 695, it is possible that the Anacostia Freeway north of the 11th Street bridges and Kenilworth Avenue could be a possible future northern extension of Interstate 295, at least as far as U.S. 50, but only if the freeway is upgraded to Interstate standards.

Baltimore-Washington Parkway

Some older maps actually used to show the designation of Interstate 295 running northward on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (designated as Maryland 295 north of the National Park Service segment) to Baltimore. This is not the case, because the parkway is not Interstate standard. The parkway pre-dates most of the Interstate system; it was constructed between 1947 and 1954. The first section to open was at the north end, and the state-maintained section (from Baltimore south to Maryland 175) opened in 1952. The federal section (from Maryland 175 south to U.S. 50) opened on October 22, 1954. In addition, certain trucks are prohibited from using parts of the parkway.

However, according to Steve Anderson's excellent District of Columbia Roads webpage, the entire Baltimore-Washington Parkway was briefly (from January to July 1969) signed as Interstate 295. However, the cost of upgrading the parkway to modern design standards was prohibitive and not funded by Interstate funds. In the same year, the parkway Interstate mileage was shifted to several proposed Interstate highways within the Washington Beltway. Many of these proposed freeways within the beltway were never constructed. With the completion of parallel eight-lane Interstate 95 in 1971, plans for further upgrading the parkway to modern standards were shelved.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 95/495 - Oxon Hill, Maryland
Perspective from Interstate 295 south
Southbound Interstate 295 at the junction with Interstate 95/495. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (10/01).
Interstate 295 south at Interstate 95. The sign on the left has been replaced with a Maryland 210 sign. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (2/99).
End signage installed along Interstate 295 southbound. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (2/99).
Transition from Interstate 295 to Maryland 210 at the Eastbound Interstate 95/495 ramp. The lefthand panel used to include a Interstate 295 shield. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (10/01).
The Maryland 210 freeway spur continues South and East, paralleling Interstate 95/495, before curving and merging with the Indian Head Highway (Maryland 210 as well). This photo looks Northbound on Maryland 210, and the split with the spur to Interstate 295. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (10/01).
Perspective from Interstate 95 north and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway outer loop
Interstate 295 signage along Interstate 95 northbound and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway outer loop. Recent signage changes indicate that Interstate 295 terminates at Interstate 95, with the short freeway section to Indian Head signed as Maryland 210. This interchange was completely reconstructed as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge reconstruction project. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Now on the transition ramp from Interstate 95 northbound and Interstate 495/Washington Beltway outer loop to Interstate 295 north, the ramp will split, with the left lane connecting to southbound Maryland 210 and the right lane connecting to northbound Interstate 295 to Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Perspective from Interstate 95 south and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway inner loop
This mileage sign on the inner loop of the Capital Beltway (southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495) provides the distance to Exits 3B-A, Junction Maryland 210 (Indian Head Highway); Exit 2, Junction Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway north; and Exit 177, Junction U.S. 1/Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Virginia (4.75 miles). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
The inner loop of the Capital Beltway (southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495) meets Maryland 210 (Indian Head Highway) at Exits 3B-A, then approaches Exit 2, Junction Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway north. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway Inner Loop) reach Exit 3A, Junction Maryland 210 (Indian Head Highway) south to Oxon Hill and Indian Head. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
This reassurance shield assembly is posted immediately after the Maryland 210 interchange. Note the "inner loop" reassurance marker for the Capital Beltway. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
The next exit on southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway) is Exit 2, Junction Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway north. These older signs have since been replaced, but they are notable for showing the old "Interstate 95 Beltway" pull-through sign. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 reaches Exit 2, Junction Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway north. Interstate 295 travels north into the District of Columbia almost immediately after leaving this interchange, and it follows the Anacostia Freeway north until it crosses the Anacostia River and ends at unsigned Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway. Plans were for Interstate 295 to continue north along the "Barney Circle Freeway," but that extension to the U.S. 50/New York Avenue was never constructed. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Heavy traffic dominated the morning commute as the inner loop of the Capital Beltway (southbound Interstate 95 and Interstate 495) passes through the Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway interchange. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge is ahead; it carries Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway over the Potomac River and connects the beltway with Alexandria, Virginia. The bridge is unique in that it connects Maryland with Virginia while passing through a corner of the District of Columbia. Current construction activities will result in replacement and expansion of the well-traveled bridge. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Perspective from Maryland 210 north
Now traveling north on Maryland 210/Indian Head Highway, a ramp connects to both directions of Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway and to Interstate 295/Anacostia Freeway north. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
The right two lanes transition from Maryland 210/Indian Head Highway north to Interstate 295 north and Interstate 95-495 north to Baltimore, while a loop ramp (ahead) connects Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway west to Alexandria and Richmond. At the top of the ramp, the left lane will split toward Interstate 295 north, while the right lane transitions toward Interstate 95-495 north. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
Perspective from Interstate 295 north
After traffic from Maryland 210 and the Capital Beltway merge together on the Anacostia Freeway, this is the first shield on northbound Interstate 295 after the Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway interchange near Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Northern Terminus - Junction Interstate 695/Eleventh Street Bridges and District of Columbia 295/Anacostia Freeway - Washington, District of Columbia
Former Northern Terminus - Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway - Washington, District of Columbia
Perspective from Interstate 295 and District of Columbia 295 north
A "BEGIN" District of Columbia 295 shield is posted on the left side of the sign bridge as northbound Interstate 295 approaches the connection from the Anacostia Freeway to the Southeast Freeway en route to downtown Washington, D.C. The continuation of Interstate 295 is now signed as "To Interstate 395." The left two lanes continue north on District of Columbia 295 to connect to U.S. 50 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (which in turn connects back to Interstate 95). Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Northbound Interstate 295 and District of Columbia 295 split at this interchange: the right lanes carry Interstate 295 northwest over the Anacostia River to secret Interstate 695 via Exit 4, while the district route continues north along the mainline Anacostia Freeway. Interstate 295 crosses over the Anacostia River via the 11th Street Bridge, then immediately meets secret Interstate 695. The ramp to eastbound Interstate 695 is signed for Pennsylvania Avenue (not signed here), while mainline Interstate 295 north merges onto Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway without an END shield. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Perspective from Baltimore-Washington Parkway south
At the junction of U.S. 50 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway just outside the city limits is this directional sign indicating the beginning of Interstate 295. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (2/99).
Perspective from District of Columbia 295 south
This begin Interstate 295 overhead is located on southbound District of Columbia 295 as the Anacostia Freeway prepares to merge with the Southeast Freeway. The Southeast Freeway carries Interstate 295 from the Interstate 695 connector southeast over the Anacostia River via the 11th Street bridges. Photos taken by Alex Nitzman (02/99) and AARoads (10/01).
Just past the overhead "begin" sign is this second "begin Interstate 295" sign (you can barely see it - it's out of focus to the right). Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Perspective from Interstate 295 south
Interstate 295 signage along the Southeast Freeway near the Washington Navy Yard. Some older maps show this section also as Interstate 295, or as Interstate 695. However, this route is unsigned, only carrying To Interstate 295 or To Interstate 395 designations. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (05/95).
Perspective from Interstate 695 east
As this diagrammatical overhead displays, the mainline of Interstate 695 defaults onto Pennsylvania Avenue eastbound. Interstate 695 is known as the Southeast Freeway as well, with that distinction branching to the southeast onto Interstate 295 south/Anacostia Freeway. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Just north of the Washington Navy Yard, Interstate 695 prepares to split into branches to Pennsylvania Avenue east and to Interstate 295 south and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Continuing on the Pennsylvania Avenue eastbound branch of Interstate 695. Plans called for this stub to connect to the unconstructed Interstate 295/Barney Circle Freeway, but that freeway has been canceled. The stack interchange in the background is with the Southeast Freeway to Interstate 295 and Martin Luther King Jr Avenue. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).

Footnotes:

  1. Southeast Freeway (Interstate 695) at DC Roads.Net (Steve Anderson)
  2. AASHTO U.S. Highway Route Numbering Committee
  3. Center Leg Freeway (Interstate 395) at DC Roads.Net (Steve Anderson)
  4. Whitehurst Freeway (U.S. 29) at DC Roads.Net (Steve Anderson)

Page Updated August 29, 2009.

 
Mileage

State Maryland
Mileage 0.80
Cities Indian Head
Junctions Interstate 95/Interstate 495
State District of Columbia
Mileage 7.25
Cities Washington
Junctions None
TOTAL 8.05 (5.2 miles)
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List. NOTE - a portion of the mileage allocated to Interstate 295 in the District of Columbia is for the unbuilt and canceled Barney Circle Freeway, and the planned transfer of the 11th Street Bridges into Interstate 695 is counted as part of the 5.2 total miles.
I-295 DC / Maryland Annual Average Daily Traffic

P.G. Co. Maryland 210 Interstate 95/495 37,625 2002
P.G. Co. Interstate 95/495 D.C. line 76,125 2002
D.C. MD state line Overlook Avenue 75,000 2000
D.C. Overlook Avenue Macolm X Avenue 80,000 2000
D.C. Macolm X Avenue Suitland Parkway 80,000 2000
D.C. Suitland Parkway Interstate 695 93,300 2000
District of Columbia 295
D.C. Interstate 295 Pennsylvania Avenue 77,600 2000
D.C. Pennsylvania Avenue East Capital Street 77,100 2000
Pennsylvania Avenue
D.C. West end Anacostia River Bridge District of Columbia 295 93,000 2000
Source: 2000 Traffic Volumes (District Division of Transportation - Traffic Services Division, Washington, D.C.)
2002 AADTS Report (Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Highway Information Services Division)

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