Sunday, June 10, 2007

ACST Remarks to Transportation Planning Board, May 16, 2007

Statement to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board
by Allen Muchnick, President, May 16, 2007
I’m Allen Muchnick with the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation (ACST). Please deny or significantly modify VDOT’s I-66 "Spot Improvements" project for its failure to honor TPB objectives, for its rejection of superior and more cost effective traffic-management alternatives, for its sham and ridiculous public process, for its grossly inadequate analyses of traffic and environmental impacts, and because it would worsen, not improve, regional traffic congestion, highway safety, incident management, emergency evacuation, transit ridership, and ridesharing.

The I-66 project involves neither "spots" nor "improvements", and changes of this nature were not even mentioned in the March 2005 final report of VDOT’s Idea-66 Feasibility Study. Rather, this project was concocted in mid-2005 as a scheme to construct major segments of a third westbound I-66 travel lane, using Frank Wolf’s federal earmarks, without considering any alternatives or any of the many adverse environmental or traffic impacts of this particular project.

Do not allow VDOT to continue misrepresenting this project as involving only operational improvements, and please require VDOT to conduct at least a proper Environmental Assessment for its proposed action. The true purpose of this unnecessary, counterproductive, and unwarranted project is to expand I-66 capacity for untolled, single-occupant vehicles. It would worsen traffic congestion on connected westbound highways, along eastbound I-66, and at nearby Arlington and Fairfax County intersections, but VDOT is purposefully evading meaningful traffic analyses. Moreover, this project would create two new westbound bottlenecks at the low-volume Glebe Road and Sycamore St exits, where three westbound lanes would drop down to two. Please at least require VDOT to report back to the TPB in early 2008 with fair and objective analyses of the impacts of this project on regional traffic and on the environmental mitigations, required under the Coleman Decision, to provide wetlands, wildlife habitat, and public open space within VDOT’s right-of-way for I-66.
Claims that "spot improvements" would facilitate emergency evacuations are bogus; the added lanes and wide outside shoulders would be mandatory exits at Glebe Rd and at Sycamore St, and their construction would fail to provide a continuous wide inside shoulder and would likely narrow the existing inside shoulder. VDOT should be required to report to the TPB on a spot improvement alternative that would simply provide a continuous 12-foot wide inside shoulder along I-66 inside the Beltway.
Please require VDOT to report back to the TPB in early 2008 on the results of its current "spot improvements" study. At that time, the TPB should revisit the issue of whether the I-66 "Spot Improvements" project should remain in the CLRP and TIP.

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