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POLL: Should HOV Lanes Have Been Opened Up?

A major accident on eastbound I-395 at the entrance to the 3rd Street tunnel this morning caused lengthy delays for commuters.

By Mike McPhate  |  April 23, 2009; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Driving  
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Traffic was slow enough on HOV today with enough cheaters on it. Opening it up would have only cause more congestion and penalized those who choose to carpool everyday. I have been the single driver in the regular lanes, and now I am the slugger. Events like this are why more companies should be open to tele-working.

Posted by: skynzfan | April 23, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Gee Sky, if I didn't know better, I'd think from your comment that those who choose to slug or carpool are somehow more special, and their time is somehow more valuable, than those of us who choose not to use those commute methods. When it comes to mass backups, clearing the traffic takes precedence over your need to feel rewarded for choosing a commute method that many others cannot choose for whatever reason by having the HOV lanes all to yourself. I think they should have opened them, but as you note, it wouldn't have made much difference given that the HOV lanes were clogged too. Thankfully, I got an e-alert and avoided the road entirely on my commute this morning.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | April 23, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The point will be moot soon, anyway. Once the HOV lanes become HOT lanes, drivers can make their own decision whether they want to pay or sit in traffic.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | April 23, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Since the accident was well past the end of the HOV lanes, wouldn't opening up the lanes just have caused that much MORE traffic to flood into the already backed up East-West Highway, making the traffic crunch even worse?

Posted by: gilmoredaniel | April 23, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

But CyanSquirrel, if we're going to have HOV to reward those who get cars off the road why should that reward be taken away just because there's extra traffic (regardless of the cause)?

Posted by: ah___ | April 23, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

re: CyanSquirrel

Special? Give me a break. I have sat in backups watching HOV speed by on 66, 267 and 395 numerous times. I chose back then to have the flexibility of driving myself to work. Now I am choosing to slug which rids me of many flexibilities as our public transporation is somewhat limited outside of rush hour times. There is give and take on both sides. Take it or leave it. Carpooling has worked for 30+ years. Using the HOV lanes for an overflow valve is a terrible habit to get into.

Posted by: skynzfan | April 23, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Why are we even talking about this? Opening up the HOV lanes in Virginia wouldn't have gotten people into DC any faster. The bridges were already at maximum capacity. So what would this have accomplished?

Posted by: eandab2003 | April 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Generally, opening up the lanes is not in response to traffic backups in the case of a major accident. It is primarily about routing traffic away from the scene for the sake of safety and getting response vehicles to the accident for assistance. I am sure in cases where there have been major incidents on HOV, traffic has been rerouted back onto the main highway. Having to share the "special" lanes for the sake of getting the accident cleared more quickly was in the best interest of all traveling.

Posted by: vtflipper | April 23, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I differ in that I do not see HOV lanes as a reward, nor should they be. Roads are paid for by everyone and should be accessible to everyone. Either make more unrestricted through lanes (add capacity) or make all lanes toll lanes. Fair is fair...if you're going to screw citizens, screw em thoroughly and equally, heh. No one deserves to get to work any faster or slower than anyone else. That is the point I tried to make.

I agree that this morning would not have been a reason to open them. I had in mind something more like mass evacuations in the event of some disaster. Which, I'm pretty sure, we'll just have a Katrina-Rita-like repeat of traffic stagnation should that situation arise, regardless of if the measly two HOV lanes are allotted to non-carpoolers or not. Authorities would need to designate all roads and all lanes one way...OUT OF even begin to be effective.

Sky, I leave it. I avoid the highways whenever possible by taking surface roads (so I'm not the one adding to highway congestion ha!) and living reasonably close to where I work (they are two miles apart as the crow flies). The trade off is higher housing costs, but a heck of a lot less stress and more free time to be with family (and use that time to engage in frugal activities that negate said housing costs, wink). I suppose your choice, and mine, are two sides of the same coin.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | April 23, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Why work anymore? Join the obammy plantation. Everything is free.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 24, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

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