The region’s Transportation Planning Board approved its 2007 long-range plan today, including High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on I-95/I-395 and spot improvements to I-66 inside the Beltway, and also turned attention to a new list of projects to be considered for next year’s plan.
The I-95/I-395 project would take the existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpool lanes between Eads Street in Arlington County and the Town of Dumfries in Prince William County and construct HOT lanes. According to the project plan, tolls will vary based on the time of day, day of week, and level of congestion in order to allow traffic to flow freely. The I-66 project focuses on widening three spots on westbound I-66 inside the Beltway from two to three lanes. Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman, Fairfax County Supervisor Linda Smyth, and members of the public urged the Virginia Department of Transportation to expedite a study of highway and transit alternatives for a long-term solution to the congested interstate.
“We also need to recognize that [area drivers] need some short-term solutions,” said Lori Waters, a Loudoun County Supervisor. “Residents in Loudoun County have to take I-66 to get to and from their jobs in Arlington because we don’t have the option of taking Metro. Our plans can’t just be focused on roads, but they can’t just be about transit either.”
TPB members voted that the projects included in the 2007 plan met federal air quality standards and have adequate funding systems in order for them to move forward. The HOT lanes are expected to be completed in 2010; the I-66 project is set to be done by 2013. Other major projects in the 2007 plan included an interchange at the Jefferson Technology Park on US-340 in Frederick County and the 2.5 mile Alexandria segment of the Potomac Yard Transitway from Four Mile Run to Braddock Road Metro Station.
The TPB also released for public comment a list of projects to be considered for the 2008 plan such as the Columbia Pike Streetcar, which would run from Pentagon City in Arlington to Skyline in Fairfax County. The 2008 plan contains all transportation improvements related to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act that will move tens of thousands of area workers to different facilities within the region in the coming years. The plan includes improved access to Fort Belvoir Engineering Proving Grounds and National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. In addition, the projects reflect new funding from last year’s Maryland General Assembly Special Session and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
During the February meeting, TPB members will review public comments on the new projects and decide whether to include the project submissions in a regional air quality analysis. The TPB’s long-range plans identify all regionally significant transportation projects in the Washington metropolitan area between now and 2030. The plan includes over 750 projects ranging from simple highway landscaping to billion-dollar highway and transit projects.
For information on the new projects proposed for the 2008 plan, please visit www.mwcog.org/clrp