State transportation officials should study dedicated travel lanes for vans, carpools and buses on a congested seven-mile stretch of the Capital Beltway that includes the American Legion Bridge, Montgomery and Fairfax leaders urged Tuesday.
HOT lanes for toll payers and high-occupancy vehicles are planned for the Beltway in Virginia from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road, and set to open later this year. But Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner and Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova pointed out a seven-mile gap in dedicated high-occupancy travel lanes between the northern terminus of the planned HOT lanes and the I-270 HOV lanes at the 270 spur in a Tuesday letter to Maryland and Virginia transportation officials.
Bulova and Berliner called the stretch “one of the most congested highways in the Washington Metropolitan area.”
“Lacking that connection will leave a seven-mile gap with no priority for buses, carpools, and vanpools,” the letter read. “In order to maximize the potential of the existing HOV lanes and imminent HOT lanes, we request that the two DOTs work together to provide a plan for connectivity for this seven-mile segment that would go into operation as soon as practical.”
The letter follows a July meeting between Montgomery and Fairfax leaders and transportation officials.
Though adding new capacity on the stretch would likely not be possible, the letter urged Maryland Department of Transportation Acting Secretary Darrell Mobley and Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton to consider “peak hour use of shoulders as exclusive bus lanes or opening the shoulder for general purpose traffic and establishing an HOV lane in the outside lane during peak periods.”
“We understand that this will be a difficult task in such a short period of time, but the urgency of implementing at least an interim solution is obvious to us,” the letter read.
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