Out of Control Policy Blog

Another Potential Delay for Northern Virginia High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes Project

We have been following the development of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes in Virginia.  With the Beltway HOT lanes now under construction we were disappointed last week when Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer delayed the I-95/395 project from the Pentagon south to Massaponex in Spotsylvania County Virginia.  The Secretary attributed the delay to concerns about the financing and also to take time to address the concerns of Arlington County.

Not being satisfied, Arlington County filed a law suit on Wednesday to delay the project asking for a more thorough environmental review of high-speed toll lanes intended to relieve traffic congestion in and out of Washington as reported in the Washington Post.

“The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, specifically challenges a Federal Highway Administration decision to exempt the HOT lanes project from normal environmental scrutiny, an exemption based on the premise that it would have no significant impact on air quality.
Naming federal and state officials, the suit also says that improper designs in two locations -- the Shirlington off-ramp and the Eads Street terminus -- would cause traffic congestion on local streets.”

I have written here about the need to relieve congestion in Northern Virginia (NoVa) and how the HOT lanes are an important tool.  Virginia is fortunate to have the public-private partnership tools available, especially in the difficult budget times every state is facing.

This is the same County I wrote about here where it takes 25 years  to widen a 1.5 mile section of I-66, road in the same County.  (It is still not done!)

While Northern Virginia moans and groans about traffic congestion, NoVa  is lucky to have some remarkable solutions on hand such as public-private partnerships for the HOT lanes. The I-95/395 HOT lane project is now being further frustrated by not working together to make the project happen.   The public-private partnership solution for bringing HOT lanes to NoVa is a good answer especially for the Commonwealth which has little or no money to do the project itself.

Shirley Ybarra is Senior Transportation Policy Analyst

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