- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

Two irritants for Kennedy Center patrons, insufficient parking and traffic congestion, will be addressed in construction that begins next week, center officials said yesterday.
The construction, scheduled to run through December 2002, will create more parking spaces in the center's garage and improve the traffic flow around the District's cultural mainstay.
No current or future productions will be affected by the work.
The construction changes have been in development for years, Kennedy Center Senior Vice President Claudette Donlon said.
Pedestrian and vehicle access will change slightly during construction, Ms. Donlon said, but signs around the center will keep patrons abreast of the best routes.
"The impact on visitors will be minimal," she promised during a news conference yesterday to detail the plans. "It'll be easier to access the site and drop off visitors."
The price tag for the project, $55 million, is covered by federal funds and an industrial revenue trust.
In Phase 1, which begins Monday, the existing offramp from the Potomac Expressway north of the center will be permanently closed.
The current drop-off point in front of the center will still be accessible but by two new U-shaped lanes in front that will help keep cars away from milling pedestrians.
Beginning in October, visitors also will use a new road at F and 25th streets NW to reach the center. It will be along and behind the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.
The building's garage, which has 1,450 spaces, will add 600 slots when the project ends about December 2002. Overflow parking is now absorbed by Columbia Plaza and the Swissotel-Watergate Hotel.
The final phase, which will temporarily close center access from nearby New Hampshire Avenue, is expected to begin in November and take about a year.
The modifications also will have an aesthetic impact on patrons, Ms. Donlon said, thanks to the sight line established by the newly created roadway.
"You approach the building from an angle where you have a good vista of the [Kennedy Center]," she said.
Construction updates can be found online at www.kennedy-center.org/parking .

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