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7 January 2009

[Federal Register: January 7, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 4)]
[Page 760-761]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Federal Highway Administration

[Docket No. FHWA-2008-0189]

Emergency Temporary Closure of I-395 & I-695 Southeast and 
Southwest Highway in the District of Columbia

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Announcement for the District of Columbia to temporarily close 
the SE/SW Highway (I-395 & I-695), on January 20, 2009, for safety and 
security purposes for the Inauguration of the President of the United 


SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 658.11(e) of title 23, Code of Federal 
Regulations, the Washington, DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has 
requested approval of a plan to temporarily close segments of the 
Interstate to all traffic except motor coaches and buses--I-395 (from 
the 14th Street Bridge to New York Avenue), I-695 (from the 3rd Street 
Tunnel to the 11th Street Bridges), and I-295 (from I-695 to DC-295)--
on January 20, 2009, beginning at 12 a.m., for one consecutive 24-hour 
period, because of the Presidential Inauguration. I-395 would be closed 
to general purpose traffic at New York Avenue up to the 14th Street 
Bridge. I-695 would be closed to general purpose traffic at the 11th 
Street Bridges. I-295 would be closed to general purpose traffic at 
Pennsylvania Avenue. The request has been made for the purposes of 
safety and security in and around the Capitol Building as well as for 
the critically needed space to park a portion of the expected 10,000 
buses bringing people into the Washington area on January 20th. The 
Interstate routes included in the request are part of the National 
Network of highways that can safely and efficiently accommodate the 
large vehicles authorized by provisions of the Surface Transportation 
Assistance Act of 1982 (STAA), as amended, designated in accordance 
with 23 CFR Part 658 and listed in Appendix A. This regulation limits 
the authority of the States to restrict the access of these commercial 
motor vehicles to the designated National Routes, and requires the 
approval of the FHWA for additions, deletions, exceptions and 
restrictions in accordance with 23 CFR 658.11. The FHWA has decided to 
approve the request by the DDOT as an emergency deletion in accordance 
with section 658.11(e) due to the safety considerations discussed in 
this notice. The FHWA is requesting comments from the general public on 
this determination. Under title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 
section 658.11 (Additions, deletions, exceptions, and restrictions), 
the FHWA can grant the closing of the Interstate system or other 
National Network route based upon specified justification criteria in 
section 658.11(d)(2). The FHWA is also authorized to delete any route 
from the National Network on an emergency basis based on safety 
considerations pursuant to section 658.11(e). These emergency deletions 
are published in the Federal Register for notice and comment.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 16, 2009.

ADDRESSES: The letter of request along with justifications can be 
viewed electronically at the docket established for this rulemaking at Hard copies of the documents will also be 
available for viewing at the DOT address listed below.
    Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, or submit comments 
electronically at, or fax comments

[[Page 761]]

to (202) 493-2251. Alternatively, comments may be submitted via the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal at (follow the 
on-line instructions for submitting comments). All comments should 
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document. 
All comments received will be available for examination and copying at 
the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of 
comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or you may 
print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments 
electronically. All comments received into any docket may be searched 
in electronic format by the name of the individual submitting the 
comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an 
association, business, labor union, etc.). Persons making comments may 
review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register 
published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 19477-78), or 
you may view the statement at

Truck Size and Weight and Freight Operations and Technology Team, (202) 
366-2639, Raymond W. Cuprill, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-
0791, Federal Highway Administration; 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, and Mr. Mark Kehrli, FHWA Division 
Administrator--Washington, DC, (202) 219-3536. Office hours for the 
FHWA are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.


Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at: The Web site is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission 
and retrieval help and guidelines are available under the help section 
of the Web site.
    An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded from the 
Office of the Federal Register's home page at:
federal_register and the Government Printing Office's Web page at:


    On January 20, 2009, as a result of the inauguration activities, 
the number of participants and spectators is expected to reach 2-4 
million, overwhelming both the roadway and transit networks in the 
District of Columbia and will create a safety hazard for commercial 
traffic to traverse these routes during that time. This is one of the 
principal reasons for the closure of these routes to commercial 
traffic. Additionally, preliminary data indicates that approximately 
10,000 or more motor coaches within a 1,000-mile radius of the District 
of Columbia are expected to travel to the District. As such, safety in 
normal transport and in the event of emergency evacuation requires 
creating transportation redundancy. That redundancy can best be created 
by allowing arrivals by motor coach to proceed directly (without 
transfer to transit or another vehicle) to the inaugural checkpoint 
areas and then by allowing the motor coaches to park within walking 
distance of the drop-off location. The identified segments of I-395/I-
295/I-695, if temporarily restricted to prohibit general purpose 
traffic, provides the best and only feasible location for allowing 
large numbers of motor coaches to approach the departure from the 
inauguration and the subsequent parade while providing the possibility 
of expedited departures in the event of an emergency.
    Temporary closure of these segments of the Interstate to general 
purpose traffic means that the motor coaches can be moved in and out 
with maximum safety while providing the possibility of expedited 
departures in the event of an emergency. Temporary closure of these 
segments of Interstate to general purpose traffic also facilitates the 
movement of emergency vehicles into and out of the area, thereby 
enhancing safety. To further enhance safety, the motor coaches will be 
parked in the roadway approach spans, beyond the bridge limits. This 
will minimize bridge overloading and ensure routes for pedestrian 
traffic and emergency vehicles.
    The temporary closure should have no impact on Interstate commerce. 
I-95, which is the main north-south Interstate route in the region, is 
signed around the Washington Beltway (I-495) so that Interstate traffic 
need not enter the District at all. Likewise, Interstate traffic 
seeking to go west via I-66 or I-270 can access either I-66 or I-270 
via I-495 without ever entering the District. Likewise, traffic seeking 
to go east via U.S. Route 50 can access U.S. Route 50 via I-495 without 
ever entering the District.
    Commercial motor vehicles, of the dimensions and configurations 
described in 23 CFR 658.13 and 658.15, serving the area can utilize the 
routes listed above in response to 23 CFR 658.11(d)(2)(ii). Vehicles 
serving the immediate area north of the temporarily restricted I-395/I-
295/I-695 segments of the Interstate will be unable to do so because 
the local and National Highway System (NHS) street network will also be 
closed during the inauguration. Therefore, the closure of the I-395/I-
295/I-695 segments of the Interstate will have no material effect on 
such traffic. Entities requiring deliveries within and adjacent to the 
area of closed local and NHS streets will be encouraged to receive 
deliveries before or after January 20th. To assist in facilitating 
Interstate commerce, the DDOT and other District government agencies 
will coordinate with local governments and adjacent jurisdictions 
(i.e., VA and MD) to minimize traffic disruptions. Requests will be 
made for adjacent jurisdictions to cooperate in routing traffic around 
the closure and warn Interstate traffic of the closure by signs, and 
other means to get the message out to the trucking industry and the 
rest of the traveling public.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 127, 315 and 49 U.S.C. 31111, 31112, and 
31114; 23 CFR Part 658.

    Issued on: December 31, 2008.
Thomas J. Madison, Jr.,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. E8-31472 Filed 1-6-09; 8:45 am]