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RIP to HOT on 395?

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ArlNow reports:

Arlington County has emerged victorious from its $1.5 million legal battle with the state over the plan to build High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton announced today that the state is no longer pursuing its I-395 HOT lanes plan, which the county blocked by filing suit in 2009. VDOT is also canceling plans to upgrade the Shirlington and Eads Street interchanges

As far as I’m concerned, this is great news; thanks to Arlington County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman and everyone else who fought against this. As Zimmerman explains in a 5-page letter, the goal of Arlington’s lawsuit was to “ensure the protection of transit and HOV operations in the corridor, and minimize the impacts of the project on surrounding local streets and communities.” And that, indeed, is what Arlington County has now done. Good work!

Also, see the “flip” for Del. Adam Ebbin’s letter on the subject. As Del. Ebbin points out, “While this announcement is a step in the right direction, we need to address our transportation needs with an increased emphasis on transit rather than encouraging sprawl by only focusing on expanding existing roadways.” So true. And that includes Bob McDonnell’s unwise transportation “plan,” which really should be called a “pave and sprawl” plan, as it allocates just 11.5% of funds to transit. With the price of oil at $100 per barrel, and with unrest in the Middle East demonstrating once again the national security implications of being so reliant on oil (not to mention the environmental “externalities”), what we should be doing is moving away: from roads and as fast as possible towards transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects. The fact that Bob McDonnell’s “plan” does the exact opposite tells you everything you need to know about Backwards Bob and his up-is-down, black-is-white, head-in-the-sand view of the world.

UPDATE: See Del. David Englin’s statement here.  David has been doing great work on this issue for over 2 years now — thanks!

Friends,

I’m happy to report that the Virginia Department of Transportation has just announced that it no longer plans to construct six miles of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes inside the Beltway in Arlington and Alexandria.

Instead, the state will move forward with new HOT lanes on I-95 from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Fairfax, linking them to the new HOT lanes on 495 already being built.

It makes much more sense to terminate the HOT lanes at the Beltway-where traffic can be disbursed in a number of directions-rather than backing up traffic on 395 at the previously planned terminus at Eads Street.

This also means there will be no construction disrupting neighborhoods like those adjoining Shirlington Circle, such as the historic communities of Fairlington and Park Fairfax.

I’m pleased that VDOT also announced that it is accelerating plans to build a ramp to connect the existing HOV lanes on I-395 to Seminary Road, which currently has no HOV access way, in order to help accommodate the influx of traffic to the new Mark Center building.

While this announcement is a step in the right direction, we need to address our transportation needs with an increased emphasis on transit rather than encouraging sprawl by only focusing on expanding existing roadways.

I want to thank Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton for acknowledging the concerns of Arlington and Alexandria residents.

Thank you for your continued support,

Adam Ebbin

Member, Virginia House of Delegates