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I-95/395 sluggers deserve protection

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Saturday, October 16, 2010; 9:58 PM

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

High-occupancy-toll lanes on the Capital Beltway make sense. HOT lanes on the Interstate 95/395 corridor make no sense at all. Right now, there is a system in place that rewards people for carpooling or slugging. For the most part, those lanes move - an incentive!

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Do you know how much money is in Prince William, Stafford and Fairfax counties? Everyone is going to buy those transponders, and we are going to have total gridlock! Look what happened when they allowed the clean-fuel cars on with single riders.

Unlike on the Beltway, commuters on this stretch of road have many options. In Prince William alone we have VRE trains, PRTC buses, slugging and carpooling.

- Barb Fraze, Woodbridge

People like Fraze who developed the very successful slugging system on I-95/395 have a strong stake in the future of those interstate lanes. While that version of the HOT lanes project has been on hold, I hope it can be revived, along with guarantees that the sluggers will continue to use the express lanes for free.

These commuters, who have made a historic contribution to the region's transportation system, shouldn't have to pay for anything, including transponders, to use the express lanes.

Fraze, who has been commuting to Washington since 1983, is right to feel protective about the slugging system. But doing nothing to improve travel on the interstate isn't likely to aid the sluggers. Traffic will get worse, particularly with the arrival of the federal workers shifted to Fort Belvoir and the Mark Center under the base realignment program.

The unfinished HOT lanes proposal would enhance bus rapid transit, which that corridor really needs. Plus, it could end the free ride now extended to the solo drivers of hybrids, who aren't making any collective contribution to clean air or congestion relief when they travel in the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes now.

Need a new sign

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm a skeptic about how trainable drivers are. As a regular pedestrian near Gallery Place, I'm intrigued by the new "no turns" traffic pattern [at H and Seventh streets NW, by the Chinatown arch]. It worked pretty well when there were half a dozen cops directing traffic.


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