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Arlington Will Withdraw HOT Lanes Suit

by ARLnow.com | February 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm | 938 views | 16 Comments

Arlington County announced tonight that it will be withdrawing its controversial lawsuit against the proposed High Occupancy Toll lane project on I-395. VDOT revealed last week that it’s no longer pursuing HOT lanes on the Arlington and Alexandria portions of I-395, at least partially due to Arlington’s suit.

The county issued the following press release about its decision to halt legal action against the HOT lanes plan.

The Arlington County Board today announced that it will withdraw its lawsuit on the proposed I-95/395 High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes project. The County Board has directed the County Attorney to seek a suspension of court proceedings so that necessary filings to dismiss the case can be prepared.

“With the announcement last week by Secretary Connaughton, it is clear that the County’s objectives have been achieved and the lawsuit can be terminated,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Christopher Zimmerman.

On February 3, the state proposed a new I-95 HOT lanes project that will undergo required environmental review, and will preserve I-395 as a transit and HOV corridor.  “Arlington County filed suit because we saw the potential for irreparable harm to residents of Arlington and others throughout Northern Virginia, and because the issuance of a ‘Categorical Exclusion’ by the Federal Highway Administration left us with no alternative but filing suit,” commented Zimmerman.

The new I-95 project effectively nullifies the Categorical Exclusion that was the basis for the County’s legal challenge. The Commonwealth has stated that it will conduct a thorough Environmental Assessment (EA) of impacts to the environment, public health, and transportation, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Such an assessment will provide to the I-95 project the level of analysis that Arlington sought for the I-95/395 project, and will allow for greater opportunities for public participation.

In addition, the specific aspects of the initially proposed project that would have adversely impacted transportation in Arlington directly – notably in the Pentagon-Pentagon City-Crystal City area, and at Shirlington – have been eliminated from the new project.

Critical transportation corridor

Arlington continues to work with our regional counterparts to improve transportation options throughout region.  Mobility in Northern Virginia is vitally dependent on the existing HOV lanes, which currently moves far more people per lane-hour than any other roadway in the region.  It is important that the new I-95 HOT lanes project be carefully designed to ensure that there is no degradation of transit capacity in the corridor.

“We applaud the Commonwealth for agreeing to do an Environmental Assessment on the new project, said Chairman Zimmerman  “It is crucial that the impacts of the implementation details of this new I-95 project be carefully evaluated and appropriately mitigated before turning the facility over to a private company for decades. ”

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  • FedUp

    Good. And while they’re at it, they should settle with the business that has the dog mural on the side of the building in South Arlington. That way, they can save some more of our tax dollars. County Board: take down that blue tarp!

  • CrankyMom

    School board just announced that they are lawyering up to defend themselves in the Williamsburg mess, so I wouldn’t worry that any lawyers are going to be out of work or anything…

  • http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com/ TGEoA

    “VDOT revealed last week that it’s no longer pursuing HOT lanes on the Arlington and Alexandria portions of I-395, at least partially due to Arlington’s suit”

    Hogwash. The project was dropped because the funding dried up. Richmond was chomping at the bit to get the racial aspect into a courtroom.

    • Thes

      Chomping at the bit? So Richmond was just hoping their legal expenses would continue just in order to score political points? Sounds about right. To bad they made Arlington spend so much to protect our community — they should have announced this much earlier. What a bunch of bullies they are!

      How much of my tax money did Richmond spend on defense lawyers while they knew this project was already dead?

      • BoredHouseWife

        +1

      • Jack

        Richmond used on state attorneys, unlike Arlington who hired outside counsel.

  • NorthAdams

    glad to have this over. for now.

  • MC

    Lots in this press release that is unsubstantiated: There is a claim that State “will preserve I-395 as a transit and HOV corridor” but in fact no one has made any guarantee that fee-paying car drivers will not get to use HOT lanes on 395 in the future. There is also a statement that the I-95 HOT lanes project “effectively nullifies” the exclusion granted the HOT lanes project earlier, but I see nothing citing what court or law makes that a fact.

    $1.5 million dollars spent, but nothing official saying that HOT lanes won’t reappear in another couple of years. Maybe an optical victory, but no evidence of a legal one here.

    • BoredHouseWife

      I just do not understand why we don’t have more bridges.

      • meateater

        The last bridge we build (replacement Wilson Bridge) cost 2.5 BILLION dollars. Other crossings might cost less, but overall it’s not cheap. That may be why.

  • Lou

    A NEPA analysis was always planned for phase II of the project (the part from the Beltway, going south). I don’t know why they keep claiming credit for “forcing” that. Oh wait, I probably do know why.

  • No hotlanes

    glad that’s over for now. hopefully the politicos in richmond won’t bring it back. making roads wider is not the answer to our transportation problems, in the long run it would only invite more peple to move way out and communte in adding even more congestion.

    • Greg

      Hopefully, although Arlington may have done some damage to itself in the long term with the tactics it used here. Particularly if the State republicans are as vindictive as the appear to be. The County could have had the same result and not be left with egg on its face if it would have left individuals and claims of intentional discrimination out of the suit.

  • Need more Cars on the road

    Oh yeah, HOT lanes will fix everything. Look at the toll road. Pay to sit in traffic during rush(slow) hour(s). Let’s turn 395 into the same HOT mess that 495 has turned into. Try something different not more of the same. Build a train system down the HOV lanes down 395/95 south. They already have the shuttle parking lots built. Adding more cars to the roads does not help commuters. It only helps the construction companies in business.

    • madisonmanor

      Your plan only works if every single car comes up I-95/395 into the district and is convenient to public transportation. This might have been true at one time, but not anymore. The federal government continues to spread out to cheaper real estate – I know because I spend my time going between multiple offices in McLean, Vienna and Chantilly. Heck, even our county government in its infinite wisdom is spread out, with multiple offices nowhere near metro. Until the governments are part of the solution and not the problem, public transportation isn’t going to help all that much.

  • BigSpender

    So Arlington spent $1.5 million on a bluff? Oh wait, thats right, nobody respects Arlington County boards needs. It was actually a $1.5 million “here’s something to think about lawsuit, but we’re not serious just want you to work with us” message. And now its the “oh we weren’t serious, please give us some of that $1 billion dollars you want to spend on infrastructure to us now” we’re dropping the lawsuit cause. What a slippery slope we are on, thanks County Board, now we don’t have anything! No state money for 395 improvements, Fairfax and Prince William out-developing us, and we are getting cut off (most recently the hotel taxes ~$1 million a year).

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