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Would these gentlemen please come forward. We will take Mr. Jennings first.
STATEMENT OF LEWELLYN A. JENNINGS, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL
Mr. JENNINGS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Members of the subcommittee, my name is Lewellyn A. Jennings and I am chairman of the Federal City Council. As you may be aware, Mr. Chairman, our civic organization supports the major proposals which are of civic benefit to the Nation's Capital.
May I compliment you, Mr. Chairman, on the selection of the Union Station as the Visitors Center. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Washington. Lying as it does at the end of one of our most impressive avenues, it is indeed a most fitting site for the millions of annual visitors to Washington. We therefore agree that such a Center as provided for in H.R. 12603, would prove to be a most advantageous addition to the city.
We have been strong supporters of the National Exposition and Transportation Center described by Mr. Owen. We agree with him that a National Exposition and Transportation Center, in conjunction with a nearby Visitors Center located in Union Station, would prove to be assets of great value to the Nation's Capital.
The site selected for the National Exposition and Transportation Center is one of the most dilapidated sections of downtown Washington's business district. Its revitalization through this project will have a most beneficial effect on the whole area. We know that a permanent industrial exposition is favored by national industry—and what better place than in the Capital of our great Nation. The complex lying as it does on both sides of the proposed Eighth Street Mall will add much to the beauty of the city, and in particular to the Pennsylvania Avenue project with which it is also entirely compatible.
From a practical standpoint, such a National Exposition, which will attract millions of annual visitors, requires a great transportation interchange. Otherwise, it would result in hopeless street congestion. There is not room to put such a National Exposition and Transportation Center in the Visitors Center, nor is such a major attraction planned as part of H.R. 12603. In fact, it would be most difficult to find space for the 3 million square feet required, yet such an exposition is certainly an equally attractive feature for the visitors to Washington.
I fully agree with Mr. Owen that these two great features, the Visitors Center and the National Exposition, are mutually compatible, that both are extremely beneficial in the development of the city and will materially add to the vitality of the Nation's Capital.
I wish to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to express the views of the Federal City Council on the advantages to Washington as set forth in H.R. 12603, and to what I believe is its companion project which we also completely endorse.
Mr. GRAY. Thank you very much, Mr. Jennings, for a very fine statement.
Did I understand you to testify just now that the proposed Industrial Exposition Center that you have outlined here, and Mr. Owen
has outlined this morning, will encompass something like 3 million
Mr. JENNINGS. Yes. As a matter of fact, I would say it is probably in excess of that, but on the conservative side it would be 3 million
Mr. Gray. The Union Station is just in excess of 300,000?
Mr. JENNINGS. Èight floors. I might say that we, at our own expense, have had some architects, possibly this will come out of statements made by my colleagues, but architects have done some preliminary work, and at one time, while it was considered it would be 5 million square feet, but this is a very large project.
(Extended remarks follow :)
EXTENDED REMARKS TO THE STATEMENT OF LLEWYLN A. JENNINGS, CHAIRMAN
OF THE FEDERAL CITY COUNCIL On behalf of the Federal City Council, I wish to thank the committee for the courtesy and interest given me during my testimony on September 13, 1967. I am most pleased to avail myself of their unanimous consent to extend my remarks, as follows:
The site selected for the Exposition and Transportation Center has a very small residential population and contains a considerable number of transients. In one of the blocks there is no occupied housing. In a very considerable portion of the site, houses have already been demolished and the land is used for surface parking. Since this is one of the older portions of Washington, the great percentage of remaining houses date from 1885 or earlier. Under such circumstances the relocation problem will be minimal. As the committee is aware, ordinarily this becomes a major factor when an area is rehabilitated by a major undertaking.
The areas adjacent to the site, particularly east and north, across Mt. Vernon Square, are low cost housing. The project will require several thousand employees. This will enable those living in these areas to walk to work, a matter of considerable importance to those with lower incomes.
At present, 7th Street near Mt. Vernon Square is considered unsafe, particularly after dark. The Exposition and Transportation Center will be ablaze with light and active until midnight. This will radically improve the whole area as well as the nearby business district.
The library at Mt. Vernon Square is a beautiful building. A new library is being built downtown and this one will be abandoned. It would be my hope that this building could be retained and possibly turned over to the Smithsonian, so that historical exhibits could be shown from time to time, in conjunction with special displays by various industries in the Exposition Center.
Mr. GRAY. I might say in that connection that I am very familiar with Hellmuth, O'Bata & Kassabaum, and they do very good work. They are designing the air museum here on the Mall, and they designed the maximum security Federal prison in my congressional district. They do very fine work.
All right. General Prentiss, we are glad to see you this morning. You may proceed in your own fashion.
STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. LOUIS W. PRENTISS, CHAIRMAN,
PROJECT PLANNING COMMITTEE, FEDERAL CITY COUNCIL General PRENTISS. Mr. Chairman, gentlemen, my name is Louis W. Prentiss and I am chairman of the Project Planning Committee of the Federal City Council. H.R. 12603, setting up a Visitors Center in Washington, is a great step forward and I can but confirm the
highly favorable comments of those who have preceded me today. I wish to compliment you, Mr. Chairman, on your excellent choice of a site at the Union Station and of your wise provision for adequate parking facilities. New terminal facilities for the forthcoming highspeed trains are further proof of the care and foresight which has gone into the provisions of this bill.
As you may know, in the early 1950's I was Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia and the experience I then acquired with the problems of Washington has given me a deep and lasting interest in the development of our Nation's Capital. In my opinion, the Visitors Center and the project endorsed by the civic groups and presented here today together give our city advantages possessed by no other nation's capital. These two prime improvements are wholly compatible and each augments the other.
I refer again to the maps discussed by Mr. Owen. The center leg which is now under construction, and the proposed underground terminals in the exposition transportation center, will afford an unusual opportunity to relieve traffic congestion and at the same time provide desparately needed new facilities for both interstate and suburban buses. The subway station at Eighth and G Streets and the one at the Visitors Center will be less than 5 minutes a part in traveling time, thereby providing convenient transportation facilities between the two projects.
While none of those who have so far testified have made mention of the growing needs of the airlines, I believe there is a definite probability that as our plans further develop it will be possible to utilize these terminals and the center leg for the future mass transportation of passengers to airfields to board the 500-passenger planes which today are still on the drawing boards.
The idea being they would be assembled there and transported directly in one move to the 500-passenger plane.
The center leg will be connected by underground accesses to the terminals under H and I Streets. This will remove virtually all the interstate buses from the city streets and at least 60 percent of the suburban buses. I know of no other solution to the downtown traffic congestion which could be half as effective.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, for the opportunity of testifying on H.R. 12603, the Visitors Center, and on this project which I am convinced is its natural concomitant.
Mr. GRAY. Thank you, General Prentiss. Your contribution as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the District is well known, and it is refreshing to see someone continue to have an interest in the Capital City. And we deeply appreciate your coming this morning. We appreciate your testimony.
Do I understand that you would support the airlifting of people from the Visitors Center to the outlying airports through scheduled helicopter service from Union Station ?
General PRENTISS. That would be a detail that the engineers of your project would have to work out. I was mentioning the transportation of people by bus from the bus terminals to the airports for these 500-passenger planes.
Mr. GRAY. I misunderstood what you said. I knew you mentioned the lifting of people. I thought you meant, when you said lifting, vertical lifting
General PRENTISS. No; I would like to say also that I am a nativeborn Washingtonian, and the only one who has ever been the Engineer Commissioner and native born, both.
My family has lived here since 1789, so I have roots around here. (Extension remarks follow :)
EXTENDED REMARKS TO STATEMENT OF MAJOR GENERAL LOUIS W. PRENTISS
I wish to thank the committee for the attention accorded me in my testimony of September 13, 1967. The unanimous consent granted to extend my remarks gives the opportunity for me to include the following suggestion.
I believe from the comments of the chairman and other members of the committee that the great advisability of separating two such great traffic generators, the Visitors Center, and the Exposition and Transportation Center, was given full recognition.
During the hearing there was discussion of the delay in our project which had resulted from the National Capital Planning Commission not having yet made a transportation study. This study was to be based on their concept of a unified transportation center at the Union Station. Inasmuch as separation of the Visitors Center and the Exposition and Transportation Center appears most logical for many reasons, including as a most important factor elimination of traffic congestion, may I suggest that the transportation study I refer to above could be materially curtailed.
All that is actually required now is assurance of practicality of vehicular access to the Visitors Center. Our traffic studies for our project which contemplate use of the Center Leg, are developed in principle and need but refinement of detail. For example, we have already been assured that the Center Leg will absorb without difficulty the additional traffic we will impose upon it.
Much time and very considerable government funds can be saved by such curtailment. It is my hope that the committee will give consideration to this suggestion
Mr. GRAY. Are there any questions of General Prentiss or any of his associates?
Thank you very much, all three of you gentlemen, for coming this morning
The next witness will be Mr. Coon, assistant vice president of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
Mr. Coon, we are delighted to see you this morning. We appreciate having you here this morning. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES C. COON, ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT,
METROPOLITAN WASHINGTON BOARD OF TRADE
Mr. Coon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
I would like to express the sincere regrets of our president of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade, Leonard B. Doggett, Jr., for his inability to be with you this morning. He had every intention of being here, and asked me to be sure to record his regrets at this time.
If I may, I will proceed with his statement.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, you may be aware of the keen interest that the board has always had in the tourists and visitors coming to Washington. This is one of our main industries here and I am glad to say increases in volume each year.
We have long felt the need for a focal point for these welcome visitors and believe the Visitors Center at the Union Station, as contained in H.R. 12603, is a most necessary addition to Washington. May I add, Mr. Chairman, that we, as well as the others present, know of the time
and study you have given this matter and all of us wish to express our sincere appreciation for the practicality of your solution.
I also feel that the proposed exposition and transportation interchange, which we fully support, is entirely in accord with the Visitors Center as contained in the bill on which we are testifying.
We became extremely interested in this proposed exposition and transportation interchange when we confirmed the great interest of national industry in a permanent exposition in Washington. Several meetings were held with industrial leaders and it was established that they preferred a downtown location provided there was assurance of easy access by both private and public transportation. This exposition will not be a trade mart; it will be an exhibition of the latest in American ingenuity in modern methods and machinery. As such it will be a living example of the depth and strength of our country's industrial economy. This will be most impressive to the millions of our citizens, school children, and foreign visitors coming each year to Washington.
Our organization has always been interested in the acute parking problems in Washington. With 4,000 parking places at the Visitors Center, and 3,500 in this project, 7,500 off-street parking sites will relieve at least some of the present need. We are equally interested in business conditions downtown. There is no question that business is now drifting west, but the major retail establishments are all located immediately adjacent to this site. We know that this project will have a profound impact on the revitalization of this area. Of equal importance is the elimination of downtown street congestion which has already reached the saturation point. The removal of the interstate buses from the city streets, the replacement of the present inadequate terminal facilites, and the provision for the first time of modern commuter bus facilities will all combine to make a lasting and needed improvement to Washington.
One point I should like to bring to your attention is the close relation between this exposition and the Smithsonian Institute. The latter shows the development of American ingenuity from earliest times to the present. The exposition shows that this perfection of every type of mechanism still goes on; that America is a young, healthy, growing industrial nation and has lost none of its skill in providing better living and more employment for its citizens.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity of appearing before your committee on these two matters which mean so much to Washington, and I appreciate your accepting me in place of the president of the board of trade.
Mr. Gray. Thank you very much for a very fine statement. On yesterday I announced that the tourists are spending on the average of $350 to $400 million a year here in Washington. I also announced for the record that the National Park Service in their studies show that the average tourists stays less than 2 days, primarily because of the frustration of no place to park, et cetera.
On that basis, if we were to consider that we could get the Visitors Center established and allow people to park their cars, they could see Washington in an orderly manner, and, say, if we could double their stay to an average of 4 days, this could mean an additional $400 million to the merchants and the people in the Washington area spent by tourists.