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swichowski View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 7:43am
Another plan for HOT lanes


By CHRIS NEWMAN
Potomac News
Tuesday, March 16, 2004


There is now competition to add HOT lanes to Interstate 95.
The Fluor Virginia Corp. submitted a $1 billion proposal on Monday that would convert the highway's HOV lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes and extend them south past Fredericksburg and add transit stations for direct bus service.

The proposal came in before today's deadline to submit competing proposals to an initial $500 million 36-mile plan proposed by a team of three companies.

Clark Construction Group, Shirley Contracting Co. and Koch Performance Roads Inc. submitted last September a HOT lane plan that goes from the Beltway to U.S. 17 in Stafford.

"Our initial reaction was it doesn't solve the entire transportation problem," said Gary Groat, Fluor director of project development. The Clark-Shirley-Koch plan doesn't go inside the Beltway to solve congestion there and dumps traffic into regular lanes at U.S. 17, where traffic already slows down because it is a major truck bypass route, he said. "If you're going to build something on I-95, you should solve the entire problem, not just a portion of it."

Vehicles with three people could still travel for free in the HOT lanes. Customers must use electronic toll transmitters so that traffic does not queue up to enter or exit the lanes.

To keep traffic moving, prices go up depending on congestion.

The Fluor plan would:

? convert the two HOV lanes and shoulders on I-95/I-395 to three HOT lanes from Dumfries to Washington, D.C., by at the earliest 2007. A flyover ramp would be added in Dumfries so that HOT lane traffic would more effectively merge with regular traffic.

? By 2010 at the earliest a two-lane 28-mile extension to Massaponax would open.

? Then 16 bus stations, additional ramps and five parking lots would be built to accommodate a bus rapid transit system, which uses large ground-level entry buses.

A total of 32 slip ramps, flyovers and direct linkage ramps are part of Fluor's conceptual proposal.

Groat said the average toll could be 15 cents a mile, or $8.40 to travel the entire 56 miles. The toll would be much higher during rush hour. The toll rates for any HOT lane project would be negotiated with the Virginia Department of Transportation at a later phase in planning.

The Virginia Department of Transportation will evaluate both proposals and determine which one or both will move onto a next phase of detailed review.

"Competition between private firms is good for the Commonwealth, and challenges us all to be more innovative, more cost-effective, and more time-sensitive," said Rick Volk, vice president of Koch Performance Roads, in an initial response to the competing proposal.

Fluor's counterproposal was expected because it has an $800 million proposal to add HOT lanes to the Beltway. After public hearings, VDOT could approve it this year.

The Beltway plan - to add two HOT lanes and rebuild two to five interchanges and add five sets of slip ramps - is subject to change.

A meeting for state and local officials to markup the plan is April 1 in Springfield.

Both I-95 HOT lane plans add a direct ramp between the proposed I-95 HOT lanes to Fluor's proposed Beltway HOT lanes.

Pierce Homer, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation, is leading the advisory panels for all the HOT lane concepts. He said state review of the Beltway proposal has been delayed because resources have had to be devoted to reviewing I-81 tolled improvement projects.

Last month Homer's panel picked a $7.5 billion plan by STAR Solutions to widen and improve truck and car traffic safety on I-81 over a less comprehensive $1.8 billion Fluor proposal.

The STAR Solutions plan is contingent on $800 million in federal dollars emerging from Congress and environmental studies. It would widen the highway to eight lanes, separate truck and car traffic and add tolls.

Environmental impact studies are required on all the projects.

A study is nearly complete for a Beltway widening.

Groat said less environmental study is needed for the adding of HOT lanes to I-95 because it will be done in existing state right-of-way, but to add transit stations would require more study.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 10:57am
I'm not going to take this lying down or assume it is inevitable. I just wrote a letter to the Post. I hope many of you start writing letters on this. All regular 95 HOV users are the "losers" on this and they are not even mentioning in the articles that there will be ANY losers. Say no to BWM/ Lexus lanes. If they want to construct new lanes south of Woodbridge with toll money, then let them build a toll road south of Woodbridge. They dont have to convert us to HOT.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swichowski Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 12:08pm
Boy this sounds great! NOT I need to submit my bid to make money on this

Cameras and other equipment would monitor the HOT lanes, closing them to new traffic once they're carrying a certain number of vehicles.
Clark Construction Group, Shirley Contracting Co. and Koch Performance Roads turned in their original HOT lanes proposal in September. It was offered under the state's Public-Private Transportation Act, which allows companies to submit transportation projects unsolicited, especially if they're willing to shoulder most of the financial burden.

The Clark/Shirley/Koch project would cost $400 million to $500 million, a price to be covered by the tolls collected, according to the group's proposal.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Max_28756 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 1:10pm
I see this proposal uses electronic toll transfers for access to the HOT lanes. How do HOV-3 vehicles enter the HOT lanes? If there is a booth in the same fashion as a toll booth, we are looking at extreme backups just trying to enter the lanes. Once again I mention as does Bob above that this will turn into a quick way to work only for those who can afford it. Why can't they just leave it as it is and make their money for new projects by increasing the penalty for violating the HOV rules. We all know there are plenty of violators everyday!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 1:42pm
I think that what they are thinking about at the entrances is an automated system in which single "BMW/Lexus's" would just have their toll transponder, but the regular HOV car would go through and be under the surveillance of a camera system as it enters the HOV. In other words, all vehicles that dont trip the transponder (ie slugs) would be photographed for later review and ticket enforcement. This is the only way they could do it with un-manned booths. And, with such a system this means that there would be no enforcement within the lanes. Is this conceivable that they are thinking this? I believe in California that the toll portion of the overall HOT system is physically isolated so that regular HOV is unaffected (Does anyone know?) Or do they use cameras.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vabigblue Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Mar 2004 at 3:20pm
$8.40 to travel that distance? That's already too much and the price will increase to $10.00 and beyond before the thing is even finished. If the state goes along with this proposal, they are putting a lot of people out to "fend" for themselves. BMW/Lexus lanes is exactly what they are going to be.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tdar20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Mar 2004 at 6:38pm
Something has to be done to extend the lanes past where they currently stop along 95. So what other proposals are out there? No way tickets cover this one......has to be a major funding deal. Summer is just around the corner and there will be a hugh daily back up once again at the merge.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Juli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2004 at 7:32am
The thing that really burns my *** is that when we purchased our home a year ago (and being very new to the area) the real estate agent swore to us that 95 was being extended down to Fredericksburg and should be completed by 2006. She was also the one that suggested the slugging aspect. So if this goes into affect, slugging will be put by the wayside and to pay to drive on 95 will make it so expensive that we will be lucky to afford the houe we have.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KCWolfPck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Mar 2004 at 2:37pm
You've never heard of carpooling? Duh!
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