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I-395 HOV could turn into Express Lane tolls under newest plan

WASHINGTON — Another D.C. area road will be going from HOV to HOT.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne announced Friday his intentions to start the process on a project that will turn the I-395 HOV lanes into I-395 Express Lanes, which will be operated by Transurban and extend tolling to the D.C. line.  The project will also expand the current two-lane roadway into three lanes that will continue to be reversible for each rush hour.

The effort is described as an effort to relief congestion on the busy I-395 corridor in Alexandria and Arlington County.

“As we have seen with the I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes, commuters along these congested corridors now enjoy shorter commute times because of increased transportation choices,” Joe Vidulich, Vice President of Government Relations of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “Now, for the first time, commuters traveling the I-395 corridor will have the transportation choices they never had before. This innovative public-private partnership will result in a dedicated corridor for carpoolers and buses, while also providing new transportation choices for all motorists to reach their destination faster.”

These new HOT lanes will operate much like the existing I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes, featuring dynamic pricing based on the number of vehicles on the roadway and free rides for carpoolers and sluggers with at least three people in a car.  And like the planned changes to I-66, part of the toll revenue would be used to fund transit.

Bob Chase, president of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, told WTOP that this is “fixing an important link in the region’s transportation network.” He said Arlington County stymied a similar plan years ago with litigation to stop the project.  Transurban has agreed to studies, and to address other issues that Arlington had initially raised. “It’s designed to help this project move forward.”

There has not been any word on what a round-trip using these tolled lanes could cost.

Transurban also noted that there will be minimal changes to the existing entrance and exit ramps onto the Express Lanes.  The only changes will be seen on the Eads Street ramp, which will see capacity and operational improvements.

The private partner also stated in a project brochure that these alterations will support 1,500 jobs during its construction and could put as many as 100 Virginia small businesses to work.

WTOP’S Kathy Stewart contributed to this report



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