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Fairfax Urges Kaine to Re-Start HOT Lane Project

Fairfax County leaders are urging state officials to restart their plan to build express lanes on two traffic-clogged highways in Northern Virginia, saying the delay or termination of the I-395/95 HOT lane project would exacerbate a "commuting nightmare" for Beltway residents.

In a letter dated Tuesday to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) wrote that county officials had "very grave reservations" about the HOT lanes project delay, asking that the state re-evaluate its decision.

The I-395/95 HOT lanes would extend south from the Pentagon to Massaponax in Spotsylvania County, intersecting the Beltway at the Springfield interchange. Construction was to have begun by next summer. (Check out What's Next for Virginia's HOT Lanes by Dr. Gridlock)

But in August, the state announced it would delay construction of the express lanes. Elected officials and both gubernatorial candidates blamed each other for the postponement. At the time, Transportation Secretary Pierce R. Homer said it was unwise to borrow money for the project along one of the country's most traffic congested areas during a recession.

"The transit and highway infrastructure associated with the project is too important to the region's transportation network to be put on hold indefinitely," Bulova wrote. "Further, given the abject level of transportation funding available through other traditional revenue sources, the Board views a tolling option, such as the HOT lanes proposal, as the only viable opportunity to secure the critical infrastructure needed in the I-95/I-395 corridor in the foreseeable future."

The delay also gave Bulova and Fairfax County leaders a reason to again criticize Richmond for providing a "miniscule level of transportation funding," a drum beat the county has been sounding for months as part of its largely symbolic push to change from a county into a city and take over control of its roadways from the state.

In the letter, Bulova noted that the county has already committed to purchase the site of a former Circuit City location and is counting on the state to purchase another site in to build a much-needed commuter parking lot in the Springfield area.

By Derek Kravitz  |  September 14, 2009; 7:03 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , Transportation  
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