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More Than Tolls, Bus Lanes Needed To Ease Traffic

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By Robert Thomson
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Has there ever been discussion about making one lane in each direction on the Key Bridge into a bus-only lane or making the bridge a toll bridge?

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Rosslyn and the Key Bridge are absolute disasters at rush hour. And very rarely do you see more than one person in a car.

There is little incentive to take the bus because there are no tolls on this bridge, and the buses sit in the same traffic that the cars sit in.

With the creation of a toll or a bus-only lane, there would be incentives to leave your car at home. Someone utilizing public transportation should have a means of getting through the city more quickly than those who decide to clog the roads with their cars.

Ryan Senft

Arlington

Would-be congestion-busters nationwide are talking a lot about adding tolls and transit lanes. We're seeing that in plans for the intercounty connector in Maryland and high-occupancy toll lanes in Virginia.

Those will be new lanes. Although many transportation experts also like the idea of turning existing lanes into toll lanes to reduce congestion, that is not a popular notion with the public or with local leaders.

The Rosslyn and Georgetown approaches to the Key Bridge and the bridge itself are notorious for congestion. There are too many solo drivers and too few lanes. There is little incentive to use a bus such as Metro's 38B, which connects Ballston and Farragut Square, because it gets stuck in the Key Bridge traffic.

Still, it's tough to envision a bus-only or toll lane on that relatively narrow span. Tolls would have to be collected electronically to avoid greater congestion.

We should look at a broader program, such as creating a congestion zone in the heart of Washington, where tolls would provide an incentive for thousands of commuters to carpool or take mass transit.


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