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Author Topic: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes  (Read 502230 times)

sprjus4

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1900 on: December 13, 2022, 02:26:39 PM »

^ So is the end all, be all answer, impossible then? Should no further improvements be completed on I-95 south of the Beltway due to construction being complicated?

Is there a study completed that says this construction is infeasible? I’m curious to see such a document.
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1901 on: December 13, 2022, 06:08:50 PM »

Even if it's technically feasible, where are you going to get the money from?  Between this and other threads, you advocate zillions of widenings but zero way to pay for them.  VDOT can't do it on its current budget and funding streams, not unless you want them to let the rest of the system go to rot.

Could tolls be the answer?  Perhaps.  But look at how many people complain about the HO/T tolls already.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1902 on: December 13, 2022, 07:29:06 PM »

^ A double-decked freeway would be infeasible for other reasons, not the least of which being winter weather.  Would also make construction more complicated and more expensive.

There may be other reasons related to cost and constructability, but there are many examples of double-decker freeways (and elevated freeways over streets below) in Northern states that have much worse weather than the Washington Metro area.  Looks like we had some discussion of this back in 2020:  https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=27695.0
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1903 on: December 13, 2022, 08:15:31 PM »

^ Yes I'm aware of such, but those "worse weather" areas are better equipped to handle winter weather than the DC region.

And given this is I-95 in Virginia, last winter's debacle would be very fresh on the minds of everyone who would need to use said double-decker during the winter.
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sprjus4

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1904 on: December 14, 2022, 03:22:30 AM »

Even if it's technically feasible, where are you going to get the money from?  Between this and other threads, you advocate zillions of widenings but zero way to pay for them.  VDOT can't do it on its current budget and funding streams, not unless you want them to let the rest of the system go to rot.

Could tolls be the answer?  Perhaps.  But look at how many people complain about the HO/T tolls already.
I’m referring to bi-directional HO/T lanes along I-95, which could be funded and completed through a public-private partnership such as Transurban.

As far as general purpose widening, while yes I do feel I-95 should be 8 lanes all the way to Richmond… I’m not expecting or even suggesting that be a “top priority.” I know I’ve shown my opinion more in the past out of… frustration?, but I do realize it’s not just possible like that, and that other priorities do also exist with limited funding. At the least, VDOT could extend the 4th southbound general purpose lane down a few exits to help the 4th lane drop nightmare at the Occoquan River. Improvements such as these, along with bi-directional HO/T lanes, would provide a significant improvement to traffic flow, without major scale general purpose widening.

If a proper agreement was worked out between Transurban and VDOT in terms of a bi-directional HO/T lanes project, that could also include extension of the 4th southbound general purpose lane for a few miles included with private funding.

It would certainly be nice to see Virginia and Maryland to work together again to study constructing an outer bypass for long distance traffic around the Washington-Baltimore metro entirely… perhaps another P3 / toll road. I feel like that might get more success than a toll-free highway that will never get built… and a toll road on that corridor would certainly get utilization if volumes on US-301 are any indication.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2022, 03:25:25 AM by sprjus4 »
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bluecountry

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1905 on: December 16, 2022, 03:21:14 PM »

I’d love to see how they plan to squeeze that through Newington.
It’s going to take some creative design work or right of way take, but the fact is, it needs to happen. Those I-95 express lanes need to operate bi-directional to be fully effective.
FINALLY, much much needed!
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bluecountry

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1906 on: December 16, 2022, 03:22:05 PM »

Even if it's technically feasible, where are you going to get the money from?  Between this and other threads, you advocate zillions of widenings but zero way to pay for them.  VDOT can't do it on its current budget and funding streams, not unless you want them to let the rest of the system go to rot.

Could tolls be the answer?  Perhaps.  But look at how many people complain about the HO/T tolls already.
I’m referring to bi-directional HO/T lanes along I-95, which could be funded and completed through a public-private partnership such as Transurban.

As far as general purpose widening, while yes I do feel I-95 should be 8 lanes all the way to Richmond… I’m not expecting or even suggesting that be a “top priority.” I know I’ve shown my opinion more in the past out of… frustration?, but I do realize it’s not just possible like that, and that other priorities do also exist with limited funding. At the least, VDOT could extend the 4th southbound general purpose lane down a few exits to help the 4th lane drop nightmare at the Occoquan River. Improvements such as these, along with bi-directional HO/T lanes, would provide a significant improvement to traffic flow, without major scale general purpose widening.

If a proper agreement was worked out between Transurban and VDOT in terms of a bi-directional HO/T lanes project, that could also include extension of the 4th southbound general purpose lane for a few miles included with private funding.

It would certainly be nice to see Virginia and Maryland to work together again to study constructing an outer bypass for long distance traffic around the Washington-Baltimore metro entirely… perhaps another P3 / toll road. I feel like that might get more success than a toll-free highway that will never get built… and a toll road on that corridor would certainly get utilization if volumes on US-301 are any indication.

95 needs 4 lanes to Garrisonville.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1907 on: December 16, 2022, 08:10:58 PM »

The express need to evaluate bi-directional HOT lanes was identified by VDOT in Jan 2020.  See pdf pg 53 here

Note on pdf pg. 51 they also explicitly advance the idea of a shoulder lane in each direction from Fredericksburg to Woodbridge that would be open when HOT lanes are open the opposite direction.  This would greatly improve traffic flow in the off direction.

The cost estimate for that plus all projects proposed for I-95 north of Fredericksburg is upwards of $1 billion.

Note that 2 HOT lanes from just US 17 to Garrisonville (10 miles) cost north of $550 million with virtually no new ROW required.  Project that out to adding 2 more lanes from US 17 to Dale City (23 miles) and 3 lanes from there to the Beltway (14 miles), plus reconfiguring most ramps/interchanges to accomodate bi-directional flow, plus a new 3 lane wide bridge over the Occoquan River.  Widening of I-95 will be required in many spots north of Dumfries and practically all spots north of Dale City.  For comparison, the I-66 outside the beltway (22.5 miles) was >$3 billion and in general was not as constrained for ROW as I-95 would. You are looking at $4-5 billion, maybe more.  Is a PPP-type arrangement economically viable for the vendor at that cost level?

Nobody is arguing that bi-directional HOT lanes wouldn't be great.  Too bad nobody predicted the growth on the I-95 corridor in the 1960s when the original busway was planned.
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sprjus4

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1908 on: December 16, 2022, 09:58:58 PM »

. You are looking at $4-5 billion, maybe more.  Is a PPP-type arrangement economically viable for the vendor at that cost level?
Wasn’t Maryland planning a $9 billion P3 to add Express Lanes across the entirety of I-495 at one point?
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Mapmikey

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1909 on: December 17, 2022, 10:35:41 AM »

. You are looking at $4-5 billion, maybe more.  Is a PPP-type arrangement economically viable for the vendor at that cost level?
Wasn’t Maryland planning a $9 billion P3 to add Express Lanes across the entirety of I-495 at one point?

It appears they weren’t going to solicit the $9 billion all at once.

https://oplanesmd.com/updates/faqs/#p3faqs

But this may be relevant if Maryland gets the full 70 miles under contract before Virginia did. Are there enough viable vendors available for 2 very large P3 projects at the same time, and if not, can one vendor invest upwards of $15 billion?
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1995hoo

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1910 on: December 19, 2022, 09:59:31 AM »

I noted yesterday that on the Beltway, there are new white signs as you approach the HO/T lanes saying that toll rates will vary for larger vehicles (I'm not sure what the exact wording was). I found it mildly interesting because large trucks are not allowed in any of the HO/T lanes except the new outside-the-Beltway lanes on I-66, but I guess maybe smaller rental trucks might still be subjected to higher tolls (I recall in the era before E-ZPass being charged a higher toll when I drove a Penske rental truck over the Verrazano Bridge, for example). I also found the timing to be somewhat interesting in that the new signs for I-66 all went up recently and these appeared around the same time. Made me wonder whether there had been some sort of dispute with someone who was charged a higher toll and claimed he was misled as to the toll rate.
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1911 on: December 19, 2022, 11:03:26 AM »

There were tons of sign gantries in my October 30th photos of the I-495 Inner Loop approaching I-66.  I am unsure how many of those included these signs.
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1995hoo

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1912 on: December 29, 2022, 08:37:12 AM »

Today's Washington Post has a story about HO/T lane expansion, both planned and under consideration, in the coming years. It may be paywalled for some of you, but I won't paste the whole thing for reasons of post length and to respect their copyright. Main points:

—I-95 lanes' extension to near Fredericksburg expected to open in 2023.

—Construction will intensify in 2023 on the northern extension of the Beltway HO/T lanes, and the project is to include a multi-use trail parallel to the Beltway (I hope it is further from the travel lanes than the new trail along I-66 outside the Beltway, which looks downright unpleasant to use immediately adjacent to a ten-lane Interstate).

—The I-66 trail noted above is not quite complete, particularly in the area around Gallows Road (I assume it ends there and users connect north on Gallows to the W&OD Trail). The plan is to have it open by May 19.

—There will be a study for bidirectional operations on I-95. See below. That's the part of the article I will paste because I think it's the part people here will find most interesting.

—VDOT is studying options for constructing HO/T lanes on the Beltway between Springfield and the Wilson Bridge and they expect to unveil options sometime in mid-2023. The article says they believe that even if they add two lanes in each direction (one of the options being considered), they can complete the project within the existing right-of-way. This proposal will interest me because of where I live, but my main interest is what, if anything, they plan to do with the interchanges. The Van Dorn Street interchange is a very outdated design and this project would be an ideal time to rebuild it.

Here's the portion about I-95 bidirectional operations. I note it's very unclear from this material what they have in mind. The first two questions that come to my mind are (1) whether they want to do this within the existing reversible lanes' footprint (in which case I assume they would reverse the direction of one of the lanes so two directions are pointed in the peak direction) and (2) if so, how they plan to segregate opposing directions of traffic—perhaps with a zipper barrier like the one on the Roosevelt Bridge? I find it hard to envision that a zipper machine could cover 12 miles of roadway during the brief period when the HO/T lanes are closed to reverse the direction. But bollards don't seem like they'd be an adequate barrier for opposing directions of traffic on an Interstate with 55- to 65-mph speed limits in effect, and bollards wouldn't allow for varying the number of lanes in each direction.

Quote
A study for bidirectional express lanes on I-95

VDOT is studying whether to allow bidirectional travel on a section of the 95 Express Lanes. The lanes are reversible, which means the travel direction changes depending on the day and time. On weekdays, traffic is northbound during the morning commute and southbound in the afternoon.

Shaw said the state is considering having bidirectional travel on a 12-mile section, between the Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Dale City, an area that suffers from severe congestion in both directions even during the nonpeak hours.

She said the study will explore “innovative ways we can look to address and provide additional capacity in that area.” But many questions remain, she said, adding that it is too early to know whether the space would allow for traffic in both direction. Currently, two lanes operating in the same direction maintain a 55 mph limit.

“It’s going to be very important that we look at the transition areas and make sure that we’re not creating worse congestion in those areas,” she said. “It’s really at the very, very early stages just to see, what are the means, what is the demand, what innovative ways can we think about how to provide this additional capacity?”
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sprjus4

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1913 on: December 29, 2022, 08:51:37 AM »

^ My guess is something cheap like they’re planning in Hampton Roads, making a hard running shoulder lane that will operate in the opposite direction. I see issues with it personally.

And why stop at Dale City? The whole I-95 corridor south of I-495 suffers, not just that 12 mile portion. There is more than enough right of way south of Dale City to expand the HO/T roadway into a 2+2 design with full barriers and shoulders dividing opposing directions.
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Jmiles32

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1914 on: December 29, 2022, 12:01:42 PM »

^ My guess is something cheap like they’re planning in Hampton Roads, making a hard running shoulder lane that will operate in the opposite direction. I see issues with it personally.

And why stop at Dale City? The whole I-95 corridor south of I-495 suffers, not just that 12 mile portion. There is more than enough right of way south of Dale City to expand the HO/T roadway into a 2+2 design with full barriers and shoulders dividing opposing directions.

Seems to me that another reason why they're focusing, at least initially, on the Dale City to Springfield section is because it encompasses the perpetually gridlocked I-95 Occoquan bottleneck (in which going northbound can often be extremely bad as well). Still, the challenge of not creating new bottlenecks seems to be an impossible one when it comes to I-95 and thus I too suspect that VDOT will ultimately just go with a hard running shoulder lane opposite of whatever direction the HO/T lanes are going. In my mind, the question is whether this shoulder lane would be used as a HO/T lane or simply another general purpose lane. Look forward to the ultimate study findings but remain cautiously pessimistic.

Also heres another article going over the regional push for bi-directional HO/T lanes on I-95 and how not everyone is all for it:
https://www.insidenova.com/headlines/two-way-tolling-on-i-95-picks-up-steam/article_cb6d2aee-86d8-11ed-b8f5-0fa7766a5c5c.html

Quote
Momentum is picking up in certain corners for expanding the tolled express lanes on Interstate 95 to allow for all-day, bidirectional access. But some in Richmond and around the region are saying “not so fast” and calling the idea undercooked or even wrong-headed at present.

The most recent burst of energy behind the long-bandied idea started when Jeff McKay and Ann Wheeler, chairs of the Fairfax and Prince William boards of supervisors, respectively, threw their support behind the idea of making the current express lanes bidirectional around-the-clock.

“We’re pressing hard to reconsider the express lanes on 95 and build them properly so that they’re not reversible,” McKay told NBC4’s Adam Tuss during a Dulles Area Transportation Association roundtable. “We’re looking at some design elements where that might be able to fit in, but frankly, they should’ve never been built that way in the first place. They should’ve been built like the Beltway and [Interstate] 66, and to me the first thing that we should be doing is pressing to get those express lanes going in both directions.”

Days later, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted a new addition to the new county Comprehensive Plan endorsing the “examination” of two-way express lanes.

Wheeler was joined by Occoquan’s Kenny Boddye, Woodbridge’s Margaret Franklin, Neabsco’s Victor Angry and Potomac’s Andrea Bailey – all of whose districts the interstate runs through – in voicing support for the idea. Ultimately, the decision to make changes on 95 wouldn’t be up to the county, but the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and VDOT would seek support from the county if the decision to expand the express lanes ever came to fruition.

“Those lanes going in one direction is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen, and it’s the most frustrating on the weekends if you’re trying to either get into D.C. or come home, and if the lanes are going in the opposite way of where you’re going, it’s almost a nightmare,” Franklin said. “Understood that we don’t manage the interstate of course, but I don’t see why in the future why there can’t be advocacy from this board supporting that.”

VDOT, meanwhile, has opened a study on the feasibility of implementing bidirectional tolling in the express lanes from Franconia/Springfield Parkway to Opitz Boulevard “to better meet travel demands and provide new choices for more travelers,” the agency said in a statement. The current reversible lanes span about 30 miles from 395 to Route 610 in Stafford County and will soon extend another 10 miles into Fredericksburg.

Pushback in Richmond

But some in the General Assembly are already pushing back on the idea of making the lanes permanently bidirectional. Speaking at the roundtable, McKay had suggested that much of the two-way toll lanes could be implemented within the existing right-of-way, but Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, told InsideNoVa he doubts it would be possible to convert the current lanes without taking space from the free general purpose lanes or expanding the entire footprint of the interstate, a very expensive proposition.

“I don’t know how you can add additional lanes without then stealing from the main lines, which then exacerbates our existing commuters on the main lines. And I don’t think anyone’s going to put up with that,” McPike said.

The current contract between Virginia and TransUrban, which operates the toll lanes, includes a “non-compete” stating that the commonwealth would have to pay the Australia-based company damages if the state decides to expand 95’s general lanes or U.S. 1, or if VDOT makes any “Occoquan Bridge improvements” and doesn’t hire TransUrban to do so. That provision lasts until 2085.

“There’s still that compensation event that hangs over our head. You can’t do anything or else you’ve got to pay,” said McPike, whose district encompasses stretches of I-95. ”It’s a horrible deal, and there wasn’t a whole lot of land expansion in the original deal to get that”

State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, whose current district includes stretches of the highway all the way from the Fairfax County Parkway to Aquia Creek, panned the idea of converting the toll lanes to accommodate traffic both ways.

Long a proponent of bringing Metrorail into Prince William, Surovell said he wasn’t buying the idea that the conversion could be done within the current right-of-way. If not, he said, the project would cost billions and net the highway just a couple of additional lanes that wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the ever-increasing traffic demands on the road.

Instead, he told InsideNoVa, the county leaders who are now talking up bidirectional tolling should be working to find mass transit solutions to the bottlenecks on I-95. One or two more additional lanes, he said, won’t make a dent in the increasing traffic as the region continues to grow.

“I hit the same backups every day today that I hit 20 years ago. Widening our roads is insanely expensive and just seems to attract more cars,” Surovell told InsideNoVa.

While I agree that implementing bi-directional tolling (as in making the current HO/T lanes 2x2, not adding a hard running shoulder in the GP lanes) would be an extremely expensive and disruptive feat (if even physically feasible or allowed by Transurban), I still think that it is more cost effective and feasible than extending Metro into Prince William County. On the other hand adding BRT along the US-1 corridor is something I do support, just think that is not the sole solution.
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1995hoo

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1915 on: December 29, 2022, 12:59:04 PM »

I think extending Metrorail to Prince William County is a very poor idea. Once you get that far out, you're in the domain of commuter rail, such as the VRE. There are existing plans to add capacity to the train tracks across the Potomac and into Union Station that would allow for increased VRE service, and that's arguably a better option for Prince William County (especially if the new tracks are restricted to prohibit freight trains).

Also, Metro has serious capacity problems due to its flawed design in downtown DC where the lines share tunnels. The number of trains that can run through those tunnels is limited by the need for minimum headways, so extending the system further out doesn't mean increased service. It would be far more reasonable to try to figure out a way to come up with the money to add capacity downtown. After that's done, then the idea of further expansion further out might be more viable.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1916 on: December 29, 2022, 02:18:37 PM »

Bi-directional flow should be to at least Garrisonville. It is common for NB traffic in the Quantico area to be quite slow during afternoon rush.

The I-15 toll lanes have movable Barriers and caltrans says it takes 2 hours to move the 16 miles. Maybe this would require multiple movers.
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1917 on: December 29, 2022, 02:55:16 PM »

I think extending Metrorail to Prince William County is a very poor idea. Once you get that far out, you're in the domain of commuter rail, such as the VRE. There are existing plans to add capacity to the train tracks across the Potomac and into Union Station that would allow for increased VRE service, and that's arguably a better option for Prince William County (especially if the new tracks are restricted to prohibit freight trains).

Also, Metro has serious capacity problems due to its flawed design in downtown DC where the lines share tunnels. The number of trains that can run through those tunnels is limited by the need for minimum headways, so extending the system further out doesn't mean increased service. It would be far more reasonable to try to figure out a way to come up with the money to add capacity downtown. After that's done, then the idea of further expansion further out might be more viable.

You make a great point here.  In order to provide the needed line capacity into downtown Washington, at least one of the Potomac River crossings on the Metrorail system would need to be expanded to a triple-track system (or comparable) that can support express trains capable of passing local trains.  But there still appears to be sufficient congestion along the I-95 corridor to financially support its own rapid transit corridor that never leaves Virginia and forces passengers headed for the District to use VRE trains.   The ultimate problem is how to fund three parallel major transportation corridors (I-95, VRE and Metrorail). 
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1918 on: December 29, 2022, 06:31:48 PM »

^ I said it before and I’ll say it again, can VDOT not go through with a P3 with Transurban to lead the I-95 bi-directional express lane project? Use a private company for the majority of the financial contributions to be repayed with toll revenue. They did it with the existing HO/T lanes and the I-495 / I-66 expansions, they can do it again.

It would certainly be a profitable project.
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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1919 on: December 29, 2022, 07:56:02 PM »

^ You can try, but I doubt you'd get the same success as before.  The vast majority of the existing and completed projects were able to be done within the existing ROW, and in I-95's case did not really require replacing existing overpasses.  Given the expense of building new lanes, especially through the ROW chokepoints (looking at Woodbridge and Newington in particular), the ROI will not be there for private companies.
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sprjus4

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1920 on: December 29, 2022, 09:54:21 PM »

Right of way may be an issue in a few areas, but that certainly could be overcome, and as far as having to realign and reconstruct lanes and new overpasses, isn’t that exactly what happened on I-66 and I-495? The lanes had to be shifted outwards, interchanges were fully reconstructed and new overpasses built, and a whole new set of managed lanes constructed within the median.

Various concepts including additional right of way or elevated lanes briefly (or even sunken lanes) should at least be explored to determine feasibility.
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davewiecking

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1921 on: March 14, 2023, 10:36:57 PM »

Link to intersection plans for the I-495 NEXT project, for those who are curious.
Improvements include HO/T lanes ramps to/from the GWMP, but only make repairs to the actual GWMP bridge.

https://sharpco.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=465df01d5a3042b6960981106ceb5e64

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1922 on: March 15, 2023, 12:28:00 AM »

I believe anything involving the GWMP overpass and improvements between there and the American Legion Bridge would be apart of a separate project, assuming Maryland ever constructs its portion, which isn’t looking likely now.
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bluecountry

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1923 on: March 18, 2023, 04:06:05 PM »

I believe anything involving the GWMP overpass and improvements between there and the American Legion Bridge would be apart of a separate project, assuming Maryland ever constructs its portion, which isn’t looking likely now.
Its going to happen, it just will take longer.
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1995hoo

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Re: Northern Virginia HOT Lanes
« Reply #1924 on: May 02, 2023, 03:07:59 PM »

Hey, a two-for-one here! Photos of the final toll gantries being hoisted into place on the I-95 HO/T lanes' southern extension, and then the poster formerly known as ethanman62187 surfaces to respond to their tweet!

https://twitter.com/EC4U2C_Studioz/status/1653463279874785280
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
commenting on the Capitals clinching a playoff spot.

"That sounded stupid, didn't it?"—Kolzig, to the same reporter a few seconds later.

 


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