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Author Topic: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?  (Read 2660 times)

kernals12

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Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« on: November 23, 2020, 01:10:48 PM »

It has plenty of ROW, it's got frontage roads in several places, it would probably be way less expensive than the silver line extension, and it would relieve I-66. Why don't they go for it?
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TXtoNJ

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2020, 01:25:52 PM »

It has plenty of ROW, it's got frontage roads in several places, it would probably be way less expensive than the silver line extension, and it would relieve I-66. Why don't they go for it?

Because there would be no political support for it.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2020, 01:29:17 PM »

I know it has environmental problems, but what I want to see in the DC area is the connection of VA 28 and I-370 in Maryland.
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kernals12

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2020, 01:31:22 PM »

It has plenty of ROW, it's got frontage roads in several places, it would probably be way less expensive than the silver line extension, and it would relieve I-66. Why don't they go for it?

Because there would be no political support for it.

That's hard to believe given all the other grade separations they're building or planning on building in NoVa.
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1995hoo

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2020, 01:38:48 PM »

For the portions in Arlington County, you’d have better luck trying to convince them to turn it into a busway.
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kernals12

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2020, 01:42:54 PM »

For the portions in Arlington County, you’d have better luck trying to convince them to turn it into a busway.

The part that goes around the Arlington Cemetary is already a freeway with the exception of the at-grade intersection on Pershing Drive.

And since much of it has frontage roads, you can construct Texas U turns to convert some intersections to RIRO
« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 01:46:23 PM by kernals12 »
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Mapmikey

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2020, 02:05:59 PM »

Arlington Blvd was built to very sub-standard conditions...truck weight restrictions (8 tons) were placed on Arlington in Sept 1937, shortly after it was constructed and US 50 moved to it.

In 1950 the restriction was defined from Fairfax Circle to VA 237 Ft Myer.

The 1960 Fairfax County freeway plan did have all of Arlington Blvd inside the beltway as a proposed new freeway.  The 1974 version had it down to studying bus-only lanes and 5 interchanges (including 7 corners which was already in place by 1962).  Two of these were built, on either side of the beltway.

A 1953 transportation study of NoVa did recommend turning Arlington Blvd into an expressway

I don't see how it could be converted and be open while that was happening, even if there is enough ROW (I have doubts) to have a freeway there with Texas-style frontage roads which would be necessary to access neighborhoods and commercial properties.
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kernals12

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2020, 02:07:54 PM »

Arlington Blvd was built to very sub-standard conditions...truck weight restrictions (8 tons) were placed on Arlington in Sept 1937, shortly after it was constructed and US 50 moved to it.

In 1950 the restriction was defined from Fairfax Circle to VA 237 Ft Myer.

The 1960 Fairfax County freeway plan did have all of Arlington Blvd inside the beltway as a proposed new freeway.  The 1974 version had it down to studying bus-only lanes and 5 interchanges (including 7 corners which was already in place by 1962).  Two of these were built, on either side of the beltway.

A 1953 transportation study of NoVa did recommend turning Arlington Blvd into an expressway

I don't see how it could be converted and be open while that was happening, even if there is enough ROW (I have doubts) to have a freeway there with Texas-style frontage roads which would be necessary to access neighborhoods and commercial properties.

It already has grade separated interchanges in several places. And how did they keep 28 and 7 open as they converted them to freeways?
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Mapmikey

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2020, 02:37:35 PM »

Arlington Blvd was built to very sub-standard conditions...truck weight restrictions (8 tons) were placed on Arlington in Sept 1937, shortly after it was constructed and US 50 moved to it.

In 1950 the restriction was defined from Fairfax Circle to VA 237 Ft Myer.

The 1960 Fairfax County freeway plan did have all of Arlington Blvd inside the beltway as a proposed new freeway.  The 1974 version had it down to studying bus-only lanes and 5 interchanges (including 7 corners which was already in place by 1962).  Two of these were built, on either side of the beltway.

A 1953 transportation study of NoVa did recommend turning Arlington Blvd into an expressway

I don't see how it could be converted and be open while that was happening, even if there is enough ROW (I have doubts) to have a freeway there with Texas-style frontage roads which would be necessary to access neighborhoods and commercial properties.

It already has grade separated interchanges in several places. And how did they keep 28 and 7 open as they converted them to freeways?

They didn't have to tear these roads up and rebuild their foundations.

Secondly, the interchanges on 28 and 7 did not involve putting 28 and 7 on any bridges.  This would almost certainly be necessary for Arlington Blvd and given the ROW constraints would be difficult (though maybe not impossible) to maintain current available travel lanes.

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.
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1995hoo

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2020, 02:39:51 PM »

For the portions in Arlington County, you’d have better luck trying to convince them to turn it into a busway.

The part that goes around the Arlington Cemetary is already a freeway with the exception of the at-grade intersection on Pershing Drive.

And since much of it has frontage roads, you can construct Texas U turns to convert some intersections to RIRO

I'm well aware of that. I've lived in Northern Virginia since 1974, and I remember well when I-66 didn't exist inside the Beltway even though I wasn't old enough to drive. My point was more a point about local politics than about anything else: Arlington County's government is dominated by people who will have no interest in converting an arterial road of that nature into more of a major highway than it already is and would be far more likely to be interested in downgrading it to less of a highway than it is now. The City of Alexandria is the same way, for what it's worth—Alexandria has little interest in widening certain roads to relieve congestion if the added lanes are for general traffic, but if it were a busway, that'd be a different story.

Of course, it's true that ultimately, because it's a US Highway, VDOT is in control, but they would be highly unlikely to disregard the local government's position. We've seen that elsewhere in the area—a few years ago, there was a proposal to designate the portion of Van Dorn Street in Fairfax County as a primary route (it's currently a secondary route), but the county government decided to oppose the proposal and it was dropped.

To some degree, I understand where Arlington and Alexandria are coming from—many residents there feel, and have elected people to reflect the feeling, that it's not their problem to pave over their neighborhoods to make it easier for people who live further out to drive through their neighborhoods en route to and from DC. I get it and I understand why they feel that way, although in my mind you have to balance that concern with the flip side that by resisting improvements you may cause negative impacts on your own quality of life due to traffic congestion, pollution, etc. I'm not sure that making US-50 more of a controlled-access highway than it already is would really result in much benefit in that respect, though. Maybe the segment in Fairfax County between the Beltway and Seven Corners could stand to be upgraded, but that would pose a lot of difficulties due to lack of space (especially between Jaguar Trail and Graham Road) and maintaining pedestrian access across the highway to bus stops and the like. There are a lot of people in that corridor, especially the segment I just noted, who rely on bus transit.



Arlington Blvd was built to very sub-standard conditions...truck weight restrictions (8 tons) were placed on Arlington in Sept 1937, shortly after it was constructed and US 50 moved to it.

In 1950 the restriction was defined from Fairfax Circle to VA 237 Ft Myer.

The 1960 Fairfax County freeway plan did have all of Arlington Blvd inside the beltway as a proposed new freeway.  The 1974 version had it down to studying bus-only lanes and 5 interchanges (including 7 corners which was already in place by 1962).  Two of these were built, on either side of the beltway.

A 1953 transportation study of NoVa did recommend turning Arlington Blvd into an expressway

I don't see how it could be converted and be open while that was happening, even if there is enough ROW (I have doubts) to have a freeway there with Texas-style frontage roads which would be necessary to access neighborhoods and commercial properties.

It already has grade separated interchanges in several places. And how did they keep 28 and 7 open as they converted them to freeways?

Far more space, among other reasons. Route 28 was a rural two-lane road when I was a kid. It's still far less dense than Arlington is, and it always will be (especially with Dulles Airport being on one side of the road for a good distance, thereby preventing development there).
« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 02:42:38 PM by 1995hoo »
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kernals12

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2020, 03:16:36 PM »

Arlington Blvd was built to very sub-standard conditions...truck weight restrictions (8 tons) were placed on Arlington in Sept 1937, shortly after it was constructed and US 50 moved to it.

In 1950 the restriction was defined from Fairfax Circle to VA 237 Ft Myer.

The 1960 Fairfax County freeway plan did have all of Arlington Blvd inside the beltway as a proposed new freeway.  The 1974 version had it down to studying bus-only lanes and 5 interchanges (including 7 corners which was already in place by 1962).  Two of these were built, on either side of the beltway.

A 1953 transportation study of NoVa did recommend turning Arlington Blvd into an expressway

I don't see how it could be converted and be open while that was happening, even if there is enough ROW (I have doubts) to have a freeway there with Texas-style frontage roads which would be necessary to access neighborhoods and commercial properties.

It already has grade separated interchanges in several places. And how did they keep 28 and 7 open as they converted them to freeways?

They didn't have to tear these roads up and rebuild their foundations.

Secondly, the interchanges on 28 and 7 did not involve putting 28 and 7 on any bridges.  This would almost certainly be necessary for Arlington Blvd and given the ROW constraints would be difficult (though maybe not impossible) to maintain current available travel lanes.

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

What does that mean?
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kernals12

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2020, 03:21:46 PM »

For the portions in Arlington County, you’d have better luck trying to convince them to turn it into a busway.

The part that goes around the Arlington Cemetary is already a freeway with the exception of the at-grade intersection on Pershing Drive.

And since much of it has frontage roads, you can construct Texas U turns to convert some intersections to RIRO

I'm well aware of that. I've lived in Northern Virginia since 1974, and I remember well when I-66 didn't exist inside the Beltway even though I wasn't old enough to drive. My point was more a point about local politics than about anything else: Arlington County's government is dominated by people who will have no interest in converting an arterial road of that nature into more of a major highway than it already is and would be far more likely to be interested in downgrading it to less of a highway than it is now. The City of Alexandria is the same way, for what it's worth—Alexandria has little interest in widening certain roads to relieve congestion if the added lanes are for general traffic, but if it were a busway, that'd be a different story.

Of course, it's true that ultimately, because it's a US Highway, VDOT is in control, but they would be highly unlikely to disregard the local government's position. We've seen that elsewhere in the area—a few years ago, there was a proposal to designate the portion of Van Dorn Street in Fairfax County as a primary route (it's currently a secondary route), but the county government decided to oppose the proposal and it was dropped.

To some degree, I understand where Arlington and Alexandria are coming from—many residents there feel, and have elected people to reflect the feeling, that it's not their problem to pave over their neighborhoods to make it easier for people who live further out to drive through their neighborhoods en route to and from DC. I get it and I understand why they feel that way, although in my mind you have to balance that concern with the flip side that by resisting improvements you may cause negative impacts on your own quality of life due to traffic congestion, pollution, etc. I'm not sure that making US-50 more of a controlled-access highway than it already is would really result in much benefit in that respect, though. Maybe the segment in Fairfax County between the Beltway and Seven Corners could stand to be upgraded, but that would pose a lot of difficulties due to lack of space (especially between Jaguar Trail and Graham Road) and maintaining pedestrian access across the highway to bus stops and the like. There are a lot of people in that corridor, especially the segment I just noted, who rely on bus transit.




How does this sound? Interchanges at Graham, Annandale, and Patrick Henry, and a Texas U turn at North Carlin Springs, then all the remaining intersections in between get converted to RIRO?
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oscar

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2020, 04:14:27 PM »

How does this sound? Interchanges at Graham, Annandale, and Patrick Henry, and a Texas U turn at North Carlin Springs, then all the remaining intersections in between get converted to RIRO?

The Patrick Henry intersection has long been a traffic sore spot, which I go through once a day when I'm in town. If there were an easy fix without eliminating some affordable housing, and commercial property and some accesses in the neighboring shopping centers, it would've been done already. We might be stuck with the incremental improvements already made.

When the Carlin Springs interchange was recently and massively improved (mainly to widen from four lanes to six), no room was left for Texas U-turns. Some of the intersections between Patrick Henry and Carlin Springs are necessary for access to residential neighborhoods and commercial properties, including a "back door" to and from the Target and other shops that helps decongest the Patrick Henry intersection. RIROs aren't enough, you'd need one or two more interchanges plus another pedestrian overpass to eliminate the existing traffic lights.

More pedestrian overpasses, at least, would be needed to freeway-ize Arlington Blvd. west of Seven Corners. As noted above, many local pedestrians need to cross the highway to among other things reach bus stops.

As you might gather, I think freeway-izing Arlington Blvd. is more trouble than it's worth, for the people who (unlike you) live here.

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

What does that mean?

In some instances (especially where the toll company makes major improvements when it takes over a highway), the state DOT isn't allowed to make major improvements to nearby highways that might draw traffic away from the toll road, without compensation for the lost revenue. I don't know if there is such an agreement for I-66 inside the Beltway.

« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 06:14:03 PM by oscar »
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1995hoo

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2020, 05:25:48 PM »

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

What does that mean?

In some instances (especially where the toll company makes major improvements when it takes over a highway), the state DOT isn't allowed to make major improvements to nearby highways that might draw traffic away from the toll road, without compensation for the lost revenue. I don't know if there is such an agreement for I-66 inside the Beltway.

Seems like it would be odd for there to be such an agreement as to I-66 inside the Beltway because VDOT itself operates the HO/T facility there, unlike all the other HO/T lanes in Northern Virginia. In effect, VDOT would be competing with itself if it improved US-50—insofar as I'm aware, it's not like they set up a special subsidiary with which they agreed not to compete. With all that said, I don't know what sort of regulations the Commonwealth applied to the I-66 operations.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2020, 06:14:53 PM »

Six-lane widening from I-495 to Seven Corners is way more likely and even that's a stretch.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2020, 06:44:58 PM »

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

What does that mean?

In some instances (especially where the toll company makes major improvements when it takes over a highway), the state DOT isn't allowed to make major improvements to nearby highways that might draw traffic away from the toll road, without compensation for the lost revenue. I don't know if there is such an agreement for I-66 inside the Beltway.

Seems like it would be odd for there to be such an agreement as to I-66 inside the Beltway because VDOT itself operates the HO/T facility there, unlike all the other HO/T lanes in Northern Virginia. In effect, VDOT would be competing with itself if it improved US-50—insofar as I'm aware, it's not like they set up a special subsidiary with which they agreed not to compete. With all that said, I don't know what sort of regulations the Commonwealth applied to the I-66 operations.

Sorry...got it backwards which side of the beltway VDOT is running.

The agreement for outside the beltway (see pdf pages 81-85 at http://www.p3virginia.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Comprehensive-Agreement-and-Exhibit-A-c-2.pdf) appears to say (I'm no lawyer so maybe I'm misinterpreting this) that VDOT is required to offer the developer the opportunity to take on any projects that are near I-66 that might affect it in some way and no compensation damages are due.  Except if I-66 itself is being widened with general purpose lanes - that apparently would be a compensation event.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2020, 07:52:22 PM »

As already stated, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway would involve raising it wherever it would meet crossroads, which not only will disrupt the traffic that's already using it but especially nowadays would be ridiculously expen$$$ive. For all that might as well attempt to get more lanes added to I-66 there, tolled or not. Of course there's a history with that segment of I-66 as well.
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1995hoo

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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2020, 09:21:18 AM »

....

More pedestrian overpasses, at least, would be needed to freeway-ize Arlington Blvd. west of Seven Corners. As noted above, many local pedestrians need to cross the highway to among other things reach bus stops.

....

I was looking at Street View and I noted this uncontrolled crosswalk near the library: https://goo.gl/maps/YgTrSUnecgXYAVDG9

I can't even begin to imagine attempting to cross at that crosswalk. Regardless of the new "stop for pedestrians" law, there is almost zero chance of drivers stopping for you unless traffic is congested enough that they're already essentially stopped. I note the other midblock crosswalk a bit further to the east outside what used to be called Loehmann's Plaza at least has a traffic light.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2020, 05:57:30 AM »

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

No.  The I-66 HOV/Toll project (from I-495 to the Rosslyn Tunnel) is run directly by VDOT, not by a private concession holder.
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Re: Why don't they turn Arlington Boulevard into a freeway?
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2020, 06:01:03 AM »

How does this sound? Interchanges at Graham, Annandale, and Patrick Henry, and a Texas U turn at North Carlin Springs, then all the remaining intersections in between get converted to RIRO?

The Patrick Henry intersection has long been a traffic sore spot, which I go through once a day when I'm in town. If there were an easy fix without eliminating some affordable housing, and commercial property and some accesses in the neighboring shopping centers, it would've been done already. We might be stuck with the incremental improvements already made.

When the Carlin Springs interchange was recently and massively improved (mainly to widen from four lanes to six), no room was left for Texas U-turns. Some of the intersections between Patrick Henry and Carlin Springs are necessary for access to residential neighborhoods and commercial properties, including a "back door" to and from the Target and other shops that helps decongest the Patrick Henry intersection. RIROs aren't enough, you'd need one or two more interchanges plus another pedestrian overpass to eliminate the existing traffic lights.

More pedestrian overpasses, at least, would be needed to freeway-ize Arlington Blvd. west of Seven Corners. As noted above, many local pedestrians need to cross the highway to among other things reach bus stops.

As you might gather, I think freeway-izing Arlington Blvd. is more trouble than it's worth, for the people who (unlike you) live here.

Thirdly, turning Arlington Blvd into a freeway *might* be a compensating event for the nearby I-66 HOT lanes inside the beltway.

What does that mean?

In some instances (especially where the toll company makes major improvements when it takes over a highway), the state DOT isn't allowed to make major improvements to nearby highways that might draw traffic away from the toll road, without compensation for the lost revenue. I don't know if there is such an agreement for I-66 inside the Beltway.

The HOV/Toll operation along I-66 between I-495 and the Rosslyn Tunnel will not be impacted in that way (being compensated for revenue loss) by any possible U.S. 50 (Arlington Boulevard) improvements.  If the I-66 project were run as a private concession (like the Transurban HOV/toll lanes on I-495, I-95, I-395), it probably would be, but VDOT runs the I-66 HOV/toll operation.
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