Monday, April 27, 2015

Is Shepherd Parkway a road? Yes and no.

The DC area has three well-known and heavily used parkways that are managed by the National Park Service: the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Suitland Parkway. Although lined with lovely protected forests, all three are notorious for their rush hours traffic. Few think of them as parks at all.

The Shepherd Parkway is a different kind of place. When it was acquired by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1927, the intention was to create a park- and roadway- that would encircle the city and preserve the remains of the Civil War fortifications. The plan was eventually abandoned due to rapid residential development and political squabbling, but the thousands of acres already acquired remain as parklands under NPS control.

Fort Davis Drive SE in Ward 7, which runs from Pennsylvania Avenue and 38th Street north to Ridge Road, is a window into what the Fort Circle Drive/Parkway would have been like had it been completed.

The Shepherd “Parkway” that we are working to restore is 205-acres of woods and fields which borders I-295 to the west the streets of Congress Heights and Bellvue to the east. It contains no roadway within its boundaries.

There is, however, a road in Ward 8 called Shepherd Parkway SW. It’s half a mile from the southern end of the park, and connects I-295 and the entrance to the Naval Research Lab with the car impoundment lot and MetroBus depot at DC Village.  

A Congress Heights resident recently asked me how on earth we planned to restore this desolate stretch of concrete; I explained to here that the big park nearby is called by the same name.

Until one or the other is renamed, the possibility of confusion will continue. 

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