I-95/395 lane times adjusted
For the second summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation has extended the weeknight hours that southbound drivers can use the reversible lanes on I-95/395. From today through Sept. 23, the lanes will remain open southbound until midnight.
This should help the late-night drivers who are more common in summer and those caught up in lane restrictions required for the I-95 widening project and the completion of the Fairfax County Parkway at I-95.
The reversible lanes will reopen for northbound traffic at 2 o'clock each morning. Note that this change has no impact on the HOV-3 schedule. There must still be at least three people per vehicle in these lanes between 6 and 9 a.m. and between 3:30 and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Travelers often ask -- often complain -- about the weekend schedule. The lanes are open for all southbound traffic from 6 p.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Saturday. Then they are open for all northbound traffic from 4 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Monday. VDOT says its traffic counts show that those are the most popular travel times in each direction.
The complaints I receive usually come from drivers who were southbound as the weekend ended. They are stuck in traffic, and they can see that motorists heading north are having a fine time. That was true Monday afternoon as people headed home from the July 4 weekend.
The marked difference in congestion is pretty much what's going to happen if you give motorists heading in one direction two extra lanes. It doesn't tell you that the overall traffic volume is heavier in your direction than theirs.
HOV lanes were built to encourage commuters to carpool. The system isn't that easy to adapt to weekend travel (something our frequent commenter, thetan, first pointed out to me). Adding two lanes for travelers in one direction for that many consecutive hours on weekends may over-indulge those drivers, but VDOT and the state police can't change the direction along the entire route because they spot a temporary gap in the traffic.
The thing traffic planners work really hard to avoid is making a mistake that would send drivers heading in different directions at 65 mph onto the same set of lanes.
| July 6, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories: Driving, Highways, Virginia | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, HOV, VDOT
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