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McDonnell Pushes For HOT Lanes Despite Arlington Suit

Virginia’s governor wants to revive the effort to put toll lanes on Interstate 395.

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said his administration has been working to breathe life into the plan to add High Occupancy Toll lanes to the highway after it was delayed last year, following a lawsuit from Arlington County officials, according to the Washington Examiner.

The suit, which last week won a federal judge’s approval to move forward, claims that during the waning days of the Bush administration state transportation officials were improperly granted a “categorical exclusion” allowing the toll lanes to be built without conducting required environmental impact studies.

County officials say the lanes will benefit mostly white residents from Stafford and Spotsylvania counties to the detriment of Arlington residents — including a high concentration of minorities — who live along the I-395 corridor.

In addition to resulting in more pollution from auto emissions, the county argues the lanes could bring more traffic to Arlington’s neighborhood streets.

Last year, then County Board Chair Barbara Favola warned traffic would inevitably back-up where the HOT lanes would end, at Eads Street, forcing drivers to exit early.

State transportation officials have long countered that argument, saying the project would bring with it the reconstruction of local intersections and would ease traffic.

Attempts last fall to garner support from Prince William County officials — who also oppose HOT lanes — failed due to suit’s racial claims.

If built, the lanes would offer single drivers the option of paying per mile to use the express lanes by way of an electronic transponder that can be placed on car windshields, much like an EZPass.

Buses and cars with three or more occupants would still be able to use the lanes for free.

State officials haven’t said how much the 56-mile project will cost taxpayers.

Under the plan, HOV lanes on I-95 and 395 would be converted to toll lanes, and the lanes will then extended from Dumfries to Spotsylvania County.

If approved, Texas-based Fluor, Inc. and Australia-based Transurban, Inc. would operate and maintain the lanes. Those two companies will own and operate HOT lanes now being built on the Beltway, between Springfield and Tysons Corner, for the next 80 years.

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Arlington and its neighbors have become more segregated in the last 10 years while fair housing legislation at the state level faces significant roadblocks. Arlington’s fair housing enforcement, education, and commitment to equity practices in housing policy and programs are beginning to show signs of improvement but much more needs to be done. 

Join the NAACP Arlington Branch, HOME of Virginia, and Equal Rights Center for the 2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference on April 15th to discuss the threats and opportunities to advancing fair housing policy across the state and within Arlington.

The half-day, in-person event will feature speakers from fair housing advocacy organizations and government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and focus on fair housing policy trends in Virginia and Arlington County. The conference aims to advance the understanding of issues and policies related to equity and affirmatively further fair housing among local officials, advocates, and members of the public.

2nd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference

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Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!

Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, April 5th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!

A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.

Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!

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Congressional School to Host MONA Private School Fair Thursday, April 27 at 6:30 PM
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WHS Spring Festival

Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!

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