New Hot Lanes I95 project end just north of Edsall before Duke (maybe)

Post date: Jul 26, 2011 2:02:41 AM

On 2 February, to persuade Arlington County to suspend its lawsuit, the VA Transportation Secretary canceled the I-395 segment of the proposed I-95 / I-395 HOT Lanes project, designed to speed traffic to DC. He decreed in that letter that the truncated I-95 project would terminate at Edsall Road.

Unknown to anyone, we believe, -- until VDOT started taking deep soil samples along the Fairfax County segment of Stevenson Avenue -- is that the Secretary's decision generated a new requirement for an exit ramp to exit northbound HOT Lane riders into I-395 general purpose lanes. The soil sampling made it clear VDOT plans to extend this exit ramp alongside Stevenson Avenue. That will dump into already congested traffic in and around the I-395 / Duke Street exit all northbound HOT Lane users who do not qualify to continue on the HOV lanes. This includes all the additional developments to the south that the I-95 HOT Lanes project is supposed to encourage.

Most important, while elected officials, some of whom encouraged the BRAC Mark Center development at Seminary Road, decry the traffic impacts of 6400 additional workers (plus all the support contractors it will draw,) the only significant improvement planned there is a reversible one-lane off ramp from the HOV lanes to Mark Center. That means the Secretary's Edsall Road decision magnifies, rather than mitigates, the adverse traffic impacts of BRAC Mark Center -- to the significant detriment of all northbound I-395 traffic and most of us who use I-395 and the neighboring streets. In addition, VDOT would be building the Mark Center ramp, and Transurban the Edsall Street (more accurately the Duke Street) ramp.

To date, VDOT has denied the existence of any plan, or decision to build this off-ramp where they have spent five weeks doing deep drilling soil sampling -- on the basis that the plan will exist only after ongoing environmental assessments are completed. When they publish the plan in September, they invite public comment -- at which time it will be too late.

To make matters worse, VDOT plans to assess BRAC Mark Center impacts separately, to be divulged in December. We wish to press hard for VDOT to commit to addressing the transportation impacts of Edsall Road decision and BRAC Mark Center project together -- including analysis / justification for ending the I-95 HOT Lanes at Edsall Road (Duke Street) rather than at allowing HOT Lane access to Mark Center, then funnel the remainder into I-395 traffic there.

Landmark Mews met with senior VDOt / Transurban officials in late May; they were less than forthcoming. There ensued several letter exchanges that make it clear that VDOT is unwilling to engage in dialog pertaining to reasons for the Edsall Road decision and other alternatives considered. We continue to press.

Attached is one of several letters from Dan Aminoff, LMCA President, to Northern Virginia Regional Director, Garrett Moore, which highlights the issue. Also attached is the letter from Watergate at Landmark to Alexandria City Council regarding this same issue.

The meeting Friday was requested by Lincolnia Park. Our intent was to include Bren Mar Park.

I hope this helps -- and that your community can become energized about what we consider is a VDOT decision that makes no sense and one that will unnecessarily exacerbate transportation problems throughout our area. Keep in mind that the decision to terminate the I-395 segment, due to Arlington's lawsuit, means no one inside the beltway will reap any benefit in the way of improved access to the north, but we will bear the full brunt of the adverse impacts from which the Secretary has excused Arlington County. Also designation of Edsall Road, in Fairfax County, as the terminus has led to a situation in which the matter has come to Alexandria attention only recently when Watergate at Landmark folks interceded.