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Fairfax HOV ramps to open for all

The HOV-only ramps on Interstate 66, at Stringfellow Road and Monument Drive in Fairfax County, will be opened to all traffic during non-rush hours.

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) took credit for the openings, with a press release noting he "convinced the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration that the change would help reduce traffic congestion." Connolly wrote a May letter to federal transportation authorities, arguing the opening of the HOV ramps was a "common sense approach to improving traffic flow in the I-66 corridor."

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also made the ramp openings a "priority," directing the county's transportation department to work with the state on a change. Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said last month during her State of the County address that ramps would "provide much needed relief to commuters on I-66 as well as the surrounding network of roads and interchanges. Pending review by the Federal Highway Administration, these ramps should be open to all traffic in the near future."

Connolly, who is running for reelection to represent Virginia's 11th District, has been focusing heavily on transportation issues in recent weeks. He announced that he plans to catch a "slug" trip from his Fairfax home to his Capitol Hill office and to ride commuter trains for the next two weeks to, as The Post's Ashley Halsey III put it, "underscore his record of involvement with transportation."

By Derek Kravitz  | August 23, 2010; 4:25 PM ET
Categories:  Driving, Northern Virginia, Transportation Politics, Virginia  | Tags:  HOT lanes  
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yay, more traffic and no more lanes

Posted by: jiji1 | August 23, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm unclear on what is meant by "during non-rush hours" in this particular context. Obviously peak-direction traffic (inbound AM, outbound PM) on these ramps will be restricted to HOVs, motorcycles, and exempt vehicles. This has to be the case because the ramps merge into, and separate from, the left HOV lane. What about traffic going in the other direction? That is, during the morning rush hour can someone going west on I-66 exit at Monument Drive regardless of HOV status, given that there is no outbound HOV restriction at that time of day? Or is the ramp restricted solely to inbound HOV traffic?

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 23, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Both ramps on I-66 have two lanes for traffic to flow in both directions unlike the I-395 HOV ramps. There are also traffic lights at the HOV ramp intersections with Monument and Stringfellow.

Also, it won't add more traffic to I-66. It will allow drivers to enter and exit I-66 closer to their starting points or destinations without having to take more circuitous routes on area roads.

Posted by: 11CD | August 23, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the these exits will be properly labeled as exits with numbers.

Posted by: jmichaelharris1959 | August 23, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Gerry Connolly and the Fairfax Co. Board of Supervisors for working towards a common-sense, no-cost solution to ease traffic on Rt. 66!

To clarify 11CD's answer to 1995hoo: No, you wouldn't be able to exit onto these ramps westbound during the morning rush, because they would be reserved for eastbound traffic.

Posted by: franko2 | August 23, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

franko2, thanks. The reason I wondered about it is that the ramps are (as 11CD noted) divided into two lanes each with double yellow lines separating the lanes. I must admit that I've never actually used any of them (I live in a totally different part of Fairfax County and am seldom, if ever, out that way at rush hour) and so I don't know whether they allow exiting/entering traffic to use both lanes, but given that the design of the ramps allows for only a single merge (or exit) lane, I figured it was a fair question. It's not clear to me why it would be necessary for the ramps to be reserved for peak-direction traffic other than the perception of danger due to the sole divider being a double yellow line combined with drivers going quite fast (although this has never been a problem on two-lane roads where traffic routinely moves at 65 to 70 mph).

Posted by: 1995hoo | August 23, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Gerry take credit for something. He refuses to take credit for taking Fairfax into the red. The man does a horrible fiscal management job and the idiots who elected Obama choose this clown too. Nice work.

Posted by: dtysko | August 23, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Pat Herrity first raised this issue a long time before Connolly and Bulova ever realized this was a way to help our road network.

Posted by: vancouver1999 | August 24, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Does it really matter who came up with this idea first? It didn't take a genius to come up with this idea.

Next, HOV needs to be made 24/7, the right shoulder lane should be 24/7, and the exception for hybrid vehicles should be cancelled. At least the Beltway HOT lanes won't have this exception.

Posted by: vance1167 | August 24, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Gerald Connolly needs more than a few ramps to get my attention. I think he is a Obama lackey who votes for Socialist programs. He needs to find another line of work, maybe selling used cars.

Posted by: PolicyWonk2008 | August 24, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

11CD, this will add traffic. Check out induced demand. There would be no traffic problems on Interstates if only we would abolish the Interstate.

Posted by: jiji1 | August 24, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The Monument Drive ramp has 2-lanes the entire length. If they put some kind of positive physical barrier between the lanes, the ramps could be opened at all times in both directions. The Stringfellow ramp is only one reversible lane. That ramp would have to be opened one direction at a time, unless it is reconfigured with two lanes all the time.

Initially, I was opposed to this idea (because of left exits/entrances), but it really does make sense and should be done.

I doubt they will be signed as exits, because they are not regular exits, they are HOV exits (which just so happen to be open to all during off peak hours, just like the HOV lane is open to all), and HOV exits require special signing to ensure that only HOV's use them (during designated hours).

Posted by: thetan | August 24, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Gerald E. Connolly has always been great about taking credit for anything, and the Post has done its best to bolster his efforts.

Dr. Gridlock, I know you are not going to put Connolly on the spot because the Post will endorse his candidacy, but couldn't you ask him why he never pushed for this exit opening as much when he was Chairman of the Fairfax, BOS all those year? When Connolly quit his elected position to run for the House, the county was about to realize a nearly 1 Billion dollar shortfall, hardly the things dreams are made of. He will go on and on about the importance of solving traffic issues, but during his tenure on the board, the traffic problem got substantially worse, and on top of that, Connolly did little or nothing to help make the alternative to driving any better, IE- putting pressure on Metro to clean house, wait, he did make sure one of the Tysons metro stop got moved within feet of his former employers (SAIC) door! And I am sure Ms. Bulova must be pleased with her mentor Connolly taking all the credit for this opening, sort of makes it look like she is a do nothing, but if it were not for Connolly, she would not be chairman, so I guess she sort of has to grin and Bear it, and they complain about Republicans,

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | August 24, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

We could abolish interstates and that would just do wonders for our economy. By far, the smartest comment on this page yet.

Posted by: vance1167 | August 24, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

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