The Washington Post

Meeting tonight on Mark Center HOV ramp

At a public information meeting Wednesday night, travelers can review plans for the I-395 HOV/transit ramp for Alexandria’s Mark Center, a key feature in plans to ease the impact of the federal base realignment.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Rd., Alexandria. The school is just east of I-395 and the Mark Center.

Virginia is putting $80 million into constructing this one-lane, reversible ramp to serve High Occupancy Vehicles and buses. The idea is to create a way to get a lot of people in and out of the Mark Center, which is not a spot well located for transit access.

The project will include an HOV turn lane onto Seminary Road and a turn lane for traffic coming from the regular lanes on I-395 to eastbound Seminary Road.

Other work includes widening of the Seminary Road Bridge over I-395, installation of a traffic signal where the HOV ramp joins the widened bridge, a shift in the northbound I-395 lanes to provide space for the HOV ramp and an upgrade for the pedestrian bridges on Seminary Road, so they meet standards for use by people with disabilities.

One key concern among both planners and commuters is that the schedule calls for ramp construction to begin in the spring of 2013 and be completed in late 2015. Meanwhile, 6,400 federal workers will have moved into the Mark Center.

The ramp construction will need to occur while those commuters and many others are using the existing roadways to get to and from work. That's a lot of traffic management before the benefits are seen.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.


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