HOV Restriction May Return
The Virginia Department of Transportation wants to restore the carpool restrictions on a three-mile stretch of I-395's southbound HOV lanes that have been open to everyone during the afternoon since 1982.
If the Commonwealth Transportation Board approves the move at its Dec. 13 meeting, the restriction will be back in effect in mid-January. That southbound stretch was open to all traffic between 3:30 and 6 p.m. to ease congestion through the Springfield Interchange. But now that the interchange has been rebuilt, VDOT thinks traffic flow would be better served by restoring the HOV-3 restriction.
In the current set up, vehicles that don't have three people on board are allowed to enter the HOV lanes at a ramp south of Duke Street and continue to the Old Keene Mill Road exit or to the flyover leading to the general traffic lanes. The rebuilt interchange has 11 lanes to handle local and express traffic through Springfield and eliminates the troublesome weave and merge into the general traffic lanes, VDOT says.
In proposing this change, the transportation department also is looking ahead to the I-95 widening project at Newington, which is supposed to begin early next year. VDOT wants that extra HOV lane capacity, because it will be encouraging more drivers to either carpool or take transit during the upcoming construction. The change also would make it easier for state police to enforce the HOV rules all along the carpool lanes.
The widening project at Newington is separate from the HOT lane (high occupancy or toll) project that I-95/395 commuters often write in about. This VDOT plan for ending the exemption may take some getting used to because of the length of time it's been in effect, but the basic idea makes sense to me. In fact, I had a letter from a reader a few months ago wondering when VDOT was going to get around to this, now that Springfield is done. Do you see any downside?
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