Road makeovers on long-range transportation plan

February 20, 2013

A stretch of Interstate 395 could be expanded to four lanes in the coming years while several D.C. roadways could lose lanes, regional planning officials said Wednesday.

The changes to the area’s long-range transportation plan took a step forward on Wednesday at a meeting of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board.

The plan, which is updated annually, outlines every major transportation project underway or planned for the next 25 years.

The proposed change to I-395 would add an additional southbound lane between Duke Street and Edsall Road by 2018.

And by 2015, East Capitol Street could lose one lane in each direction between 40th Street NE and Southern Avenue, and South Capitol Street could shrink by one lane from Firth Sterling Avenue SE to Southern Avenue.

Not all projects revolve around drivers. The completed L Street bike lanes in Northwest Washington are listed, as are the M Street bike lanes expected to open this year. And there’s also a proposal to set aside one lane for buses during the morning and evening commutes on I Street NW between 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ron Kirby, director of transportation planning for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, said the latest updates highlight key differences between the District, with its focus on transit and bike lanes, and Virginia, with its “gung-ho” enthusiasm about roads.

“It says a lot,” Kirby said. District officials are “basically discouraging auto use downtown. That’s their policy.”

Virginia has growth and momentum, he said. The state utilized a public-private partnership to launch the Capital Beltway’s high-occupancy toll lanes last year, while the Silver Line extension is a major project that will spur further growth in the state.

Maryland didn’t submit any major changes to its projects already in the plan, Kirby said.

Major projects can only get federal funding if they’re included in this plan as well as the Transportation Improvement Plan, also overseen by the board.

The projects endorsed Wednesday will be subject to air-quality reviews and could be voted into the plan in July.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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