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StewartSchwartz View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 Jul 2007 at 5:47pm
Sluggers. Here is the alert that we sent out from the Coalition for Smarter Growth. We need proof from VDOT, Fluor and Transurban that they won't completely undermine the successful HOV and bus service.

ACTION ALERT: Oppose I-95/395 High Occupancy Toll Lanes – HOV/Bus Service at Risk

There are too many concerns about the I-95/395 HOT lanes that are not being answered by VDOT. Secrecy of these deals must end.

1) The End of HOV: HOT lanes could add too much traffic to the existing HOV lanes. This, plus the willingness of people to pay, could mean the end of HOV and slugging in the corridor. This means more cars, more traffic and more air pollution.

2) Traffic Bottlenecks: More traffic will also create traffic bottlenecks at destinations like the Pentagon, Crystal City and downtown DC.

3) Giveaway to Private Company: This is a long-term giveaway of a taxpayer asset to private companies, Fluor (US) and Transurban (Australia). The private companies are making a minimal investment, such as re-striping lanes and adding a couple of ramps, yet getting a cash-cow for decades.

4) Secret Deal: We have no idea what sort of deal the taxpayers are getting because of the secrecy of negotiations under the Public-Private Transportation Act. The public never saw the Dulles Rail contract with another big construction company, Bechtel, until AFTER it was signed, and then never saw the critical financial information.

5) Failure to Analyze All Alternatives: VDOT is proposing to Categorically Exclude the HOT lanes from a full environmental impact study, which means they do not have to look at a range of other alternatives including expanding HOV, bus service and VRE service in the corridor.

6) Private Profit will be more important than HOV or Transit Service and Performance: Toll rates will be driven by profit, not by overall success of all modes in the corridor (HOV, Bus, and VRE). Profits will be unknown to the public, so we cannot know how much the companies should be paying to fund transit service in the corridor or what are fair toll rates.

7) VDOT Building HOT Network without Public Debate: VDOT has plans to toll most major highways in the region to build a network of HOT lanes. The public has never been given all of the information on cost, performance, or the benefits of alternative approaches.

There is simply too little information and too much risk to the nation’s most successful HOV (slugging) and transit corridor. We recommend that you oppose the I-95/395 HOT lane proposal.



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Bob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Jul 2007 at 7:30pm
Wow! I couldn't have laid it out better myself.

They are playing craps with the most successful HOV system in the country and have no idea how it will work out.

Virginia is signing a 60 year contract with no idea what will happen.

If HOV is messed up on the most critical corridor in the country, watch out!

Millions in tax dollars will flow overseas and away from VA.

What happens if HOT lanes fail? Is VA prepared to buy them out?

Do we want to support thousands of more single occupant cars?
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goober View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote goober Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2007 at 11:47am
So, it's apparent that these recent meetings have been a sham.

Is there something we can all do in the Slugging community that can actually make a difference? I've written to the Governor and VDOT commissioner in the past and received friendly responses, but obviously not taken seriously.

I recall reading someone's post that said we are not effective as a group. I've been to the earlier meetings, and I've noticed that there weren't that many people present relative to the number of slugs and drivers. Good or bad, this slug system is not based on strong common ties. But for the sake of keeping it alive, can we possibly protest HOT en masse? The media might take notice, investigate, and possibly fight for our cause. It's obvious that something shady is going on.

Is it too late to do something about HOT? I just recently started reading stuff on this site, and apologize if these thoughts have already been stated.
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Jody View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jody Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2007 at 10:49am
We need to start an on-line petition (such as the petition opposing the driver abuser fee law) to get the attention of the VA legislature and VDOT. I hope if anyone has the capability to post a petition here for slugs to sign will do so. Since there is no way to stop the toll road, I'd like to see changes in the contract with Fluor to guarantee that carpools will never be charged, the hybrid exemption is removed from HOV/HOT lanes, and during non-rush hour, anyone can access the HOV/HOT lanes without paying a toll.
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Bob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2007 at 10:54am
Unfortunately, one of the things I interpreted from the recent VDOT question and answer session is that the non-rush hour revenues will almost certainly be a big part of the revenues. Morrison actually said that it is possible that during rush hour at some times, only 10 percent of the cars may be toll cars. I read into that that they are realizing that there is limited capacity during rush hour and that they are looking at mid-day and weekends. The weekend thing is really going to be bad I'm afraid. I'd also bet that 90 percent of people think this thing is just for rush hour.
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Sheepish View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sheepish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2007 at 12:07pm
Bob- good point, of which again, I believe most folks in this area don't understand. Perhaps if the media delved into this more, and reported that non-rush hour users are probable funding targets--it might make the casual HOV lane users start paying attention and realize this is a bad idea for the state to pursue.



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spidermonkey View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spidermonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2007 at 6:26pm
The online website that Jody refers to is:

www.petitiononline.com

I thought about starting one myself this weekend... then I thought better of it since writing is not my strength.

Does anyone find themselves reasonably competent to start a petition like this???? Let's try to get this grassroots ball rolling....

BTW---if you haven't yet done so, sign the repeal the VA Civil Remedial Fees for Traffic Offenses petition (there are 167k (3k since Sunday when I signed))

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?va3202&1

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Bob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2007 at 8:09am
More traffic woes than meets the eye in Virginia
LETTER TO THE EDITOR


Potomac News
Wednesday, August 1, 2007



While Lillian Kafka's article dated July 26 "Carpoolers Get HOT Story" pointed out justified worries that HOV users have, We would like to raise some more fundamental questions about this Public Private Partnership project.

1) The End of HOV: HOT lanes could add too much traffic to the existing HOV lanes. This, plus the willingness of people to pay, could mean the end of HOV and slugging in the corridor. This means more cars, more traffic and more air pollution.

2) Traffic Bottlenecks: More traffic will also create traffic bottlenecks at destinations like the Pentagon, Crystal City and downtown D.C.

3) Giveaway to Private Company: This is a long-term giveaway of a taxpayer assets to private companies, Fluor (U.S.) and Transurban (Australia). The private companies are making a minimal investment, such as re-striping lanes and adding a couple of ramps, yet getting a cash-cow for decades.

4) Secret Deal: We have no idea what sort of deal the taxpayers are getting because of the secrecy of negotiations under the Public-Private Transportation Act. The public never saw the Dulles Rail contract with another big construction company, Bechtel, until AFTER it was signed, and then never saw the critical financial information.

5) Failure to Analyze All Alternatives: VDOT is proposing to Categorically Exclude the HOT lanes from a full environmental impact study, which means they do not have to look at a range of other alternatives including expanding HOV, bus service and VRE service in the corridor.

6) Private Profit will be more important than HOV or Transit Service and Performance: Toll rates will be driven by profit, not by overall success of all modes in the corridor (HOV, Bus, and VRE). Profits will be unknown to the public, so we cannot know how much the companies should be paying to fund transit service in the corridor or what are fair toll rates.

7)VDOT Building HOT Network without Public Debate: VDOT has plans to toll most major highways in the region to build a network of HOT lanes. The public has never been given all of the information on cost, performance, or the benefits of alternative approaches.

The taxpayers of Virginia are being sold a bill of goods that lacks vision for the future and could, through the use of non-completion language in the deal, preclude 21st Century solutions that will be required. Today's automobile centered transportation system is harmful today and unsustainable in the long-term.

JIM HUTZLER

Transportation Issues Chair

Mount Vernon Group of the Virginia Chapter

Sierra Club
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Bob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2007 at 8:05am
Great letter in today's paper A- MEN.


Arguing against not-so-hot lanes in Virginia
LETTER TO THE EDITOR


Potomac News
Friday, August 3, 2007



Northen Virginians on the I-95 corridor are being sold a bill of goods and most folks don't even seem to notice or care because VDOT is slow on the details of the project. While things are still being negotiated with the contractor, the citizens mostly impacted keep getting told -- details are not available yet. The issue is HOT LANES.

Current HOV lanes have a prime purpose to improve flow of morning and evening rush hour traffic -- five days a week for several hours each business day. That is all -- everything else is a benefit like coordinating lanes for non-rush hour repaving and repair projects. That is an easy fact to understand. What VDOT is not telling people is the impact of the contractor run HOT LANES with 24/7 restrictions, will result in zero periodic relief to regular lanes.

The current practice of off-hour use of HOV lanes by any car regardless of occupancy has been a huge benefit for local residents. Residents must notice that on most Saturdays and Sundays, whichever direction the unrestricted HOV lanes are pointed, those five to six total lanes of I-95 usually have a very steady flow of traffic. The other side of I-95 on weekends has only three lanes and traffic is bumper to bumper or at best under 40 MPH. Under VDOT's vision for HOT LANES, the regular lanes will not get any additional lanes and not have use of non-rush hour HOV lanes unless we pay or have three people. The prescription is 24/7 congestion in the regular lanes. It will impact the persons who go into the Pentagon early to talk to contacts in Europe and Iraq. They will be forced to stay in regular lanes because there won't be many slugs at 5 a.m. It will affect those who stay at work late and will prevent them from using the HOV lanes after 6 p.m., like they have used for past years. There won't be many slugs at 7-8 p.m. HOT LANES are a self fulfilling design for regular lane congestion. VDOT won't even consider less restrictive HOV-2 plans for after rush-hour/weekends even though electronic signage could easily make that happen.

VDOT, why not use HOV-2 for after rush hour use of HOT LANES? VDOT, explain the impact on regular lanes since HOV lanes will be 24/7 restricted?

A final note. VDOT told me that HOT lane dirt will start turning in 2008. I have not talked to one elected official who favors HOT lanes, but where is your collective pressure to give us some push back to VDOT and Richmond? What are we waiting for; until it is too late?

It is time to get some activism going within the so far quiet ranks of elected local and state officials and help get the negative impact of HOT lanes out in the open since VDOT is not proceeding in the interest of us most impacted by the not-so-hot idea of HOT LANES.

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Dan Tomlinson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dan Tomlinson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Sep 2007 at 9:35pm
The moderator is correct in asserting that all three toll lanes will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. See my blog at http://hotlanes.blogspot.com for other questions that VDOT did not answer during the public hearing.
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