Ghost roads: The forgotten byways of D.C.

Clara Barton Parkway Ghost Bridge A mysterious overpass spans the outbound lanes of the Clara Barton Parkway near Glen Echo Park in Maryland. The reinforced concrete frame bridge has sat abandoned for more than 50 years. During the late 1950s, the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads was intent on building a four-lane, grade-separated parkway along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, but space was tight and the terrain was steep. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Clara Barton Parkway Ghost Bridge (continued) Outbound traffic on the parkway was supposed to use the bridge to reach the cantilevered lanes just west of Glen Echo, a system that was completed in 1961. The National Capital Park and Planning Commission, now the National Capital Planning Commission, was unable to acquire sufficient land to accommodate the beginning of this alignment near the Glen Echo trolley corridor and was forced to settle on a two-lane, largely undivided parkway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The Aqueduct Bridge carried canalboats, horse-drawn wagons, and eventually trolley cars and automobiles across the Potomac River for nearly a century. It was demolished in 1933 but a remnant abutment still towers over the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown today. In the shadow of the Key Bridge, the stonework above the two surviving arches is mottled by graffiti. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Vestiges of the Aqueduct Bridge The Aqueduct Bridge carried canalboats, horse-drawn wagons, and eventually trolley cars and automobiles across the Potomac River for nearly a century. It was demolished in 1933 but a remnant abutment still towers over the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown today. In the shadow of the Key Bridge, the stonework above the two surviving arches is mottled by graffiti. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Vestiges of the Aqueduct Bridge (continued) The Key Bridge was constructed at an 18-degree angle from the Aqueduct Bridge. The two coexisted side-by-side for 10 years before the demolition of the older superstructure. In addition to the abutment on the Georgetown end, a lone pier off the Virginia shoreline offers a lonely reminder of this historic highway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Transformation of Old Klingle Road A weed-choked, crumbling road in Cleveland Park has sat in ruin for nearly a quarter of a century. The remains of Old Klingle Road lay deep in a hollow on the edge of Rock Creek Park. Persistent flooding and stormwater runoff caused irreparable damage to the road, and in 1991 it was permanently closed due to safety concerns. Many portions of the roadbed have since collapsed. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Transformation of Old Klingle Road (continued) All that remains of the decommissioned roadway will soon be erased. In August, the D.C. Department of Transportation unveiled its timeline for construction of a pedestrian and bicycle path, and the restoration of Klingle Creek. The District says the old concrete road will be replaced with an eco-friendly footpath lined with lighting, fencing and benches. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Disappearing Connecticut Avenue Circle A peculiar bend on Connecticut Avenue through Kalorama is all that remains of an unrealized traffic circle. At the turn of the 20th century, the expansion of Connecticut Avenue hit a roadblock when several property owners objected to the planned alignment of the road between Dupont Circle and Rock Creek Park. The expensive Connecticut Avenue Bridge assumed this alignment and, when it was completed, a circle was built on the southern end of the bridge. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Disappearing Connecticut Avenue Circle (continued) The District was unable to obtain the land needed for an arrow-straight alignment of the route on an axis with the White House and, as a result, Connecticut Avenue was forced to the side of the circle and around several properties. Today, the formation bears little resemblance to a circle. The western rim was recently closed for the construction of a new embassy housing complex. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Old Constitution Avenue Lookout The northern edge of the National Mall is delineated by Constitution Avenue. West of the U.S. Capitol, this grand thoroughfare once extended beyond the federal institutions at 23rd Street Northwest onto a lookout above the banks of the Potomac River. In the 1960s, however, construction of the Roosevelt Bridge changed that. The new offramps from the bridge forced the National Park Service to sever this lookout from Constitution Avenue. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Old Constitution Avenue Lookout (continued) The overlook remains today, isolated from Constitution Avenue, as an appendage of Rock Creek Parkway and Ohio Drive. Inland from the lookout, about 1,500 feet of Constitution Avenue have vanished, but a prominent line of elm trees still marks where the boulevard used to be. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
There is a secret tunnel, once used for the passage of streetcars, between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol. From the 3rd Street Tunnel, C Street Northwest ends at New Jersey Avenue. Beyond the many security gates and barricades erected after Sept. 11, 2001, the remains of a curved passageway can be seen under Upper Senate Park.
C Street Tunnel There is a secret tunnel, once used for the passage of streetcars, between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol. From the 3rd Street Tunnel, C Street Northwest ends at New Jersey Avenue. Beyond the many security gates and barricades erected after Sept. 11, 2001, the remains of a curved passageway can be seen under Upper Senate Park. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
C Street Tunnel (continued) The C Street Tunnel was built during the early 20th century to beautify the view across the roadway from the Capitol building to Union Station. After the Oklahoma City bombing, access to the tunnel was restricted to off-peak hours only. It was closed permanently to civilian traffic as an added security measure after Sept. 11, 2001. Nowadays, U.S. Capitol Police cruisers and Architect of the Capitol vehicles can often be seen parked inside the tunnel. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Unsung Barney Circle Freeway The demise of the Barney Circle Freeway Project marked the end of an ambitious era in local highway planning. By the early 1980s, plans were in the works to connect the Southeast/Southwest Freeway at Barney Circle directly to D.C. 295. The freeway would run through tunnels under Barney Circle — constructed years earlier — across a new bridge over the Anacostia River toward Kenilworth Avenue near East Capitol Street. After much opposition, the freeway project was canceled. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Unsung Barney Circle Freeway (continued) There are two reminders of the planned freeway, one on each side of the Anacostia River. Southbound drivers on D.C. 295 will notice a conspicuous ledge on the railroad bridge after passing East Capitol Street. The structure is a ramp terminal built as an approach onto the never-built freeway. There are two rows of jersey barriers between mainline traffic and a 60 foot drop where the unused ramp ends. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Unsung Barney Circle Freeway (continued) Two of the three defunct bores under Barney Circle appear to be closed permanently. The tunnels were intended to carry freeway traffic under Pennsylvania Avenue but are no longer needed. After D.C. Water finishes water main replacement near the tunnels, the Southeast Boulevard Project will resume. All proposals call for filling and closing the tunnels and connecting the boulevard and nearby streets with the circle at grade. The Barney Circle Freeway Project was doomed like many of its predecessors, including the Interstate 266 Three Sisters Bridge, the Interstate 95 extension beyond the 3rd Street Tunnel and the Interstate 70 South/North Central Freeway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Ghost Roads: Part 1 Interested in seeing more of D.C.’s forgotten highways? Check out part 1 of our Ghost Roads series from 2014. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
(1/16)
The Aqueduct Bridge carried canalboats, horse-drawn wagons, and eventually trolley cars and automobiles across the Potomac River for nearly a century. It was demolished in 1933 but a remnant abutment still towers over the Capital Crescent Trail in Georgetown today. In the shadow of the Key Bridge, the stonework above the two surviving arches is mottled by graffiti. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
There is a secret tunnel, once used for the passage of streetcars, between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol. From the 3rd Street Tunnel, C Street Northwest ends at New Jersey Avenue. Beyond the many security gates and barricades erected after Sept. 11, 2001, the remains of a curved passageway can be seen under Upper Senate Park.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up