Fairfax County's Concerns Regarding I-95/395 HOT Lanes Project


November 6, 2009


Ms. Barbara Favola
Chairman
Arlington County Board of Supervisors
2100 Clarendon Boulevard
Suite 300
Arlington, Virginia 22201

Re: Fairfax County's Concerns Regarding the I-95/395 HOT Lanes Project

Dear Chairman Favola:

As you know, the I-95/395 HOV/HOT Lanes Project is a regionally significant project that will provide critical accessibility to five current and future military bases in the corridor and enhance travel mobility within five local jurisdictions. The five military bases will be home to nearly 90,000 employees. The provision of a third HOV lane has been in the region’s long-range plan since the early 1990s.

On behalf of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, I wish to thank you for affording Fairfax County the opportunity to offer its concerns regarding recent events affecting the I-95/395 HOT Lanes Project. A summary of Fairfax County's concerns is listed below.

  • The connections from the HOV/HOT lanes to the Fort Belvoir Engineering Proving Ground and Mark Center sites are especially critical to accommodate new development resulting from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommendations in the northern part of the I-95/395 corridor. In particular, the federal decision to locate jobs at the Mark Center rested on an assumption that the HOV/HOT Lanes public transit and network capacity improvements inside the Beltway would be in place to serve traffic to the site shortly after the Mark Center facility opens. The additional HOV/HOT Lanes capacity, combined with the potential for a direct access ramp into the Mark Center, would provide the needed access to the Mark Center. An Interchange Justification Report (IJR) for the direct access ramp is currently being prepared by VDOT and a NEPA document for that connection will be initiated early in 2010. Without the direct ramp at Mark Center and additional HOT/HOV capacity, Fairfax County is extremely concerned that the Mark Center traffic that otherwise would be on I-395 will instead divert to other less desirable arterials, collectors, and neighborhood streets in the County.

  • The Arlington lawsuit jeopardizes the entire I-95/395 HOV/HOT Lanes project rather than just those segments within or adjacent to Arlington County. The Arlington lawsuit effectively blocks private financing for the entire project, without which there are no other funds available in the foreseeable future to address the existing severe capacity restraints on segments of I-95 and I-395 within or adjacent to Fairfax County for transit or other vehicles.

  • The project will provide free, additional capacity and access for HOV traffic and transit service in the corridor 24 hours per day rather than the current 6-7 hours of HOV service per day. This is a very significant change for the region, especially in the highly congested shoulder periods. The I-95/395 HOV/HOT Lanes Project provides a critical $195 million payment to increase transit service and improve transit/carpool facilities in the corridor. We are concerned that the size and timing of this transit payment are at risk if the length of the project is reduced and the delivery schedule significantly delayed. Without these additional transit funds, the viability of interconnected transit service between the I-95/I-395 corridor and the Beltway HOV/HOT Lanes and the Tysons Corner employment center will be heavily compromised.

  • In addition, the project is to provide 3,000 more commuter parking spaces in the corridor, including a parking lot in central Springfield in conjunction with Fairfax County government. These spaces are critically needed today due to the recent loss of a significant number of rented spaces that had been available for commuter use in Springfield for many years. Fairfax County has already expended $4.5 million to acquire property needed for this central Springfield facility to facilitate early construction; however, funding for construction of the parking spaces is tied to the advancement of the I-95/395 project.

  • If the HOT Lanes project stops at the Beltway, the many Fairfax County residents who travel to and work in Arlington, Alexandria, and the District of Columbia will no longer receive the travel time savings benefits that would have been realized with the inside the Beltway portion of the project. The under-capacity interchange of I-395 with Route 236 (Duke Street/Little River Turnpike) and Routes 236 and Beauregard Street are expected to particularly be impacted without the planned HOT lanes enhancements at the Seminary Road interchange.

  • Fairfax County is also concerned that stopping the project at the Beltway may result in diversion of additional traffic onto the Beltway as well as other roadways in Fairfax County. As a result, the capacity of the Springfield Interchange Phase VIII connection to the Beltway will need to be reevaluated and perhaps reconfigured. Fairfax County has requested that the impacts of this potential traffic diversion onto the Beltway and other local roadways be modeled if the project is phased to initially stop at the Beltway.

We appreciate that Arlington and key state and federal decision-makers have agreed to meet to clarify the remaining issues and discuss resolution and settlement of these issues. In view of the significance of this project to Fairfax County and to the the regional HOV/HOT lane network, we urge negotiation as soon as possible to resolve Arlington's concerns and to settle the lawsuit.

Thanks so much for providing the opportunity for us to discuss this critical issue and for your acknowledgment of our concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need additional information or wish to discuss any of these matters in more depth.

Sincerely,

Sharon Bulova
Chairman, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

 

 

               


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