One Step Closer to I-95 Congestion Tolls

Northern Virginia’s Transportation Planning Board has approved plans to build express toll lanes on Interstate 95 and Interstate 395. Next step: State officials must negotiate an agreement with Fluor Virginia and Transurban, the companies that proposed it, reports Eric Weiss with the Washington Post.

The I-95/395 project would convert two carpool lanes into three high-occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes from the Potomac River to Stafford County. Tolls would fluctuate based on the traffic volume to ensure that the lanes remain free-flowing at speeds of 65 miles per hour outside the Beltway and 55 mph inside. The lanes could open by 2010.

Writes Weiss:

In exchange for permission to build the road and keep toll revenue, the companies have also promised to pay for $390 million in new bus service, six park-and-ride lots with 3,000 spaces, interchanges and an extension of the roadway to eliminate a daily bottleneck in Dumfries.

Not only will this project will make a huge difference to travel in the I-95 corridor, it could prove to the be one of the most important transportation projects in the history of Virginia. If it works as billed, it could legitimize the concept of congestion pricing, an idea that has yet to generate much enthusiasm in the state, and create a template for other projects.

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5 responses to “One Step Closer to I-95 Congestion Tolls”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    There’s no question about it.

    Not only will every elected official in NoVa and TW/HR and perhaps the rest of Va be looking at how this works (or does not) but so will the Feds.. Fed HIghway, MPOs nationwide, AND members of Congress – especially those from states that are currently considering congestion pricing…and electronic tolling.

    If this concept gets screwed up or perceived by the public – as screwed up/unfair/wrong/etc… like the process with the Dulles Toll Road…is perceived…

    … a potentially promising response to chronic congestion – could go down the tubes….before it ever gets a chance to prove itself.

    … here’s hoping that the folks in charge… also realize what is at stake…is more than a few HOV lanes in NoVa.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Larry, well stated. HOT lanes are in use in a number of places, Mpls., SoCal, but this one will get the national visibility. I too hope that this project will be done correctly. That means good service, fair prices for drivers; reasonable profits for the vendors; and some level of oversight from the Commonwealth.

    If it fails here, it’s dead nationally.

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Actually there are plenty of questions about it. But if this plays out the way it is headed it is going to be a multmillion dollar experiment that thousands of people will have to live with for decades.

    It will take that long to find out if this works (or does not). By then, other conditions may overtake the situation and what you end up with isn’t at all like the original vision.

    Sort of like Metro.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Actually.. easily undone….

    just turn off the electronic toll gantry’s and let everybody and their dog.. use the lanes.

    but note this story –

    “US Congressman Frank R Wolf (Repub, N VA) wants the Virginia state government to toughen its law to make toll increases on the Dulles Greenway more difficult.”

    this aspect – is one in which the NoVa leaders and officials need to insure due dilgence on – that there is a reasonable “exit strategy” if the pilot program ends up with serious unexpected problems…

    The HOT lanes – could be (should be) a tremendous success if it remains primarily focused on congestion relief FIRST – and not as a revenue generator – which it appears is driving the Dulles Toll Road now.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    just turn off the electronic toll gantry’s and let everybody and their dog.. use the lanes.

    Yep, and pay the private investors off for not only their investment, but their penalty clauses.

    What you say is true, only if government puts up the funds. If government puts up the funds, then whay should we pay tolls?

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