ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton met with a group calling for a delay to a ramp that will end the Interstate 95 HOT Lanes in Alexandria.
The Concerned Residents of Landmark met with Connaughton, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova on Friday about the terminus ramp, which will be located just north of Edsall Road at Turkeycock Run.
The ramp will end the HOT Lanes, meaning any vehicles with less than three passengers would have to exit during rush hours.
“VDOT did what they are supposed to do and they ran the project by the Federal Highway Administration,” says Connaughton. “The issue really is how to balance out the traffic, if there’s a way to do it.”
The group hired Maureen Barrett, an environmental engineer, to study the toxin levels that the ramp would produce. She found that nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5, or fine particulate matter, would be above acceptable levels on the ramp, partially due to the expected traffic. Those toxins could result in respiratory issues and increased hospitalization.
“It was very disappointing for Secretary Connaughton to say the group was objecting to I-395 corridor,” says Barrett. “The other issue was just his willingness to discuss other options in a loose manner.”
She is no stranger to local issues, serving as the environmental engineer for the effort to shut down the Gen-On Power Plant in Alexandria.
“I don’t think they can say what the impact of their project will be on Turkeycock Run,” says Barrett. “They haven’t done any real quantitative analysis. They said their results disagreed with mine. That’s impossible because they have no results. They did no analysis, but we would love to see the results of their own localized study here.”
John Lynch, regional program manager for VDOT’s Megaprojects department, says their agency disagrees with the report, specifically in regards to nitrogen dioxide.
“Her results are inconsistent with our study and we don’t think toxin levels are worse than at the Springfield Interchange, which is the worst-case scenario,” he says.
The Concerned Residents of Landmark want VDOT to delay the ramp to study the impact on Turkeycock Run and explore alternate locations.
However, Mayor Euille told Connaughton that Alexandria most likely would not support moving the terminus ramp farther north. Bulova added that moving it south may not be feasible, either.
Arlington residents have already sued VDOT to keep the ramp from ending there.
“As far as doing a study at Turkeycock Run, you have to look at where we are on the project,” says Lynch. “We are in construction. The impact of delaying the ramp construction to our department would be significant.”
Connaughton will be briefed on a separate meeting Friday between Barrett and Lynch, then meet again with Euille and Bulova to discuss the next step.
“Hopefully there can be an outcome that will be a win-win for everyone,” says Euille.