Va. Commuters Need to Sound Off

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, March 15, 2009; Page C02

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I frequently carpool to and from the District on Interstate 66. It often takes an hour or more to go eight miles, and I share other commuters' frustration with the traffic congestion. However, I oppose the spot widening projects for the simple reason that they won't meaningfully relieve the problem.

At one of the public I-66 meetings I attended, VDOT representatives admitted that the I-66 spot widening would simply shift the choke points from their current locations to new positions.

Moreover, there are no federal funds to widen the I-66 Rosslyn tunnel. Without that, the spot improvements are of equivocal value.

We must begin thinking about how to move people, not cars, more efficiently. Many transportation experts agree that road expansion simply isn't the best or smartest use of available resources.

Unfortunately, Metro has its own bottleneck at its Potomac River crossing between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom. Unless tunnel expansion coincides with the Silver Line's debut, the system will be unable to handle the additional riders.

If any money is to be spent, it should go first toward solving the Metro crossing problem. The Silver Line will take cars off I-66 and provide more effective congestion reduction than shifting the choke points around on the road.

A short-term congestion relief option exists: bus rapid transit.

-- Suzanne Smith Sundburg, North Arlington


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