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Forum LockedOccoquan District Supervisor Opposes HOT

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    Posted: 21 Feb 2005 at 6:12am
The following article appeared in the Washington Post:

HOT Proposals Threaten Slugging, HOV Lanes
The Washington Post, Prince William Section, Letters to the Editor 
February 20, 2005.
[Go to Washington Post article]

Sometimes desperation leads to decisions that make matters worse. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), desperate to relieve congestion in Northern Virginia but starved of the funding to do so, is considering proposals to convert Interstate 95/395 HOV lanes into High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. Those proposals, although well intentioned, would damage one of our only forms of mass transit and turn our commuting woes into a commuting nightmare.
HOV lanes have succeeded in encouraging thousands of commuters to carpool or take the bus. Carpooling in Northern Virginia means slugging. Slugging is the practice of three strangers leaving two cars behind to ride together on the HOV lanes.

Slugging has become one of best forms of mass transit in the Washington area, and one developed by residents -- not the government. In fact, I slug. Although the HOV lanes can also get crowded, strict enforcement and phasing out the low emission/alternative fuel vehicles next year will keep HOV moving in the right direction.

Now there are two competing proposals from Fluor Virginia Inc. and Clark Construction Group to convert the HOV lanes into HOT lanes. The HOT lanes would continue to allow carpoolers to ride in HOV and single-rider vehicles could use the lanes if they paid a toll. In January, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved both proposals to move to the next stage of review. After going through state and federal environmental review, including public debate, the VDOT commissioner could start negotiating the project in early 2006.
Many arguments can be made against HOT lanes, including the "Lexus lanes" argument. My focus is on a single question, "Will this improve our commute?" The answer is no. Here is why.

Recent VDOT analysis bears out what commuters already know: HOV lanes are at capacity now. Adding single-rider toll payers to the lanes would make the situation worse. In this highly affluent community, many who carpool would choose to pay the toll to ride alone rather than ride with a stranger.

To offset the increased volume resulting from toll payers, the proposals would widen the HOT lanes to three lanes between Dumfries and the 14th Street bridge. But adding a third lane would not offset the additional volume when the lanes narrow again to two lanes at the 14th Street bridge. The net result: more volume, same bottleneck.
Most toll revenue would not be used in Northern Virginia. Common sense would dictate that revenue generated from the tolls would be used to address Northern Virginia's traffic woes. Instead, both proposals would use most of the revenue to extend the HOT lanes past Fredericksburg.

That is of almost no benefit to Prince William and Fairfax counties residents, who would be paying most of the tolls. Although the proposal would add an additional lane to HOT, this could be done at relatively little cost now, because the right-of-way for this lane already exists. Doing so would severely reduce the shoulder widths, posing a significant safety concern. Once we go HOT, we couldn't go back.

If HOT lanes fail, VDOT would be unable to simply back out of its contractual obligations and revert back to HOV. Fluor and Clark tell us not to worry, however, because there are purportedly successful HOT projects in Texas and California. But can we afford to gamble with one of the most successful mass transit solutions in Northern Virginia based on questionable comparisons to very few other examples where this has been attempted?

All this will be discussed at a HOT lane town hall meeting I will be co-hosting with the Committee to Save HOV at 7 p.m. March 14 at the Woodbridge Senior High School auditorium.

For more information, please contact me at 703-792-4643 or cstewart@pwcgov.org.

Corey A. Stewart
Occoquan District Supervisor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2005 at 11:48pm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40343-2005Feb20.html

This supposedly is an article on HOV/HOT in the DC area. I am unable to open it. Has anyone read this? Can you send it to dickboyd@aol.com?




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2005 at 5:19pm
Here is an article written by Steven Ginsberg on Feb 20 (I just noticed is the same link, but it does work)

Anyway, we all know now that the Post is pro HOT lanes. The article was totally slanted and did not even bother to interview any commuters, in my opinion


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A40343-2005Feb20.html
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