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    Posted: 15 Apr 2008 at 9:57am
I found this memo on the website of the Northern Va Transporatation Authority. Very interesting. Apparently there is consideration of making one of the HOT lanes buses only. Also is a discussion of a safety analysis being done summer, especially relating to the elimination of the shoulder.



The Honorable Pierce Homer
Secretary of Transportation
1111 East Broad Street, Third Floor Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Secretary Homer:
On behalf of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, I am writing to follow-up with you on the progress of the I-95/395 HOT Lanes project, and more specifically on the safety and operational aspects of the proposed facility. In particular, the NVTA would like to ensure that all aspects of the safety analysis are complete before final National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation is submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

In addition, we would like to make certain that the average minimum speed of the HOT lanes facility remains as high as the speeds experienced on the HOV facility today.
As you know, the NVTA has previously raised concerns about the safety and operations of the proposed I-95/395 HOT Lanes facility. We are very pleased to hear that the state has retained Halcrow, Inc., to develop operational and performance requirements that will be incorporated into the public-private agreement. We feel this analysis is imperative for the safe and efficient operation of this facility.

Since safety is an important component of the NEPA documentation, and the Halcrow findings could cause changes to the scope and design of the HOT Lanes project, we urge the state to wait until the Halcrow analysis is complete before submitting the final NEPA documentation for this project. According to VDOT staff, this is, in fact, the case. The state anticipates requesting that the FHWA to make a NEPA finding for the northern segment of the project late this summer, after the Halcrow safety analysis is complete. The NVTA is supportive of this approach and would like confirmation that this is the planned course of action. In addition, we expect that the Halcrow findings and recommendations will be a matter of public record, and we will have an opportunity to react to them before actions are taken.

We have also been waiting for over a year for the operational and funding analysis of a bus-only lane as part of the I-95/395 HOT Lanes project. We strongly urge the state to release this analysis for review by the local jurisdictions and regional agencies. Since transit is an integral part of moving people in this corridor, this alternative must also be included in the safety analysis being performed by Halcrow.

4031 UNIVERSITY DRIVE #9830;SUITE 200#9830;FAIRFAX, VA 2203 #9830; PH: 703-766-4650 #9830; FAX: 703-766-4654
WWW.THENOVAAUTHORITY.ORG
The Honorable Pierce Homer
April 11, 2008

Page Two
Finally, we were also disappointed to hear that during some General Assembly discussions, VDOT staff stated that an average minimum speed on 55 mph on the HOT lanes would be too difficult to maintain and might discourage public-private partnerships on this facility. According to VDOT data, the HOV facility today operates at an average speed of 56 mph in the am peak period northbound (49 mph inside the Beltway, and 62 mph outside), and 67 mph southbound in the afternoon peak (68 mph inside the
Beltway, and 67 outside the Beltway).

We hope that an average minimum speed of at least 55 mph on the HOT Lanes would be achievable considering today’s data. If this is not the case, this project will degrade service for all users of the facility, including transit, vanpool and carpool commuters. As we have stated before, that is unacceptable.
According to VDOT staff, the state considers the 45 mph federal requirement to be a minimum threshold, and anticipates that the average speed will be closer to 55-60 mph. We would like confirmation that this commitment will be reflected in the final I-95/395 HOT Lanes agreement.

We hope you will take these concerns into consideration as you continue to move forward with the I-95/395 HOT Lanes project. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss this further.
Sincerely,
Christopher Zimmerman
Chairman
Cc: Members, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
John Mason, NVTA Executive Director
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