Hey, I-66 Whiners: Join a Friggin’ Carpool!

Interstate 66 east at the Capital Beltway in Virginia. Jan. 2016. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

The Interstate 66 toll lanes opened yesterday in Northern Virginia, and dynamically priced tolls during the morning commute hit $34.50 for the 10-mile stretch from the Beltway to Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Post.

The high price for the tolls — among the highest that drivers have paid for the privilege of traveling on a state-owned highway in the United States, the Post observes — induced the usual hand wringing. Reports the Post:

“I drove onto I-66 around 8:10 this morning to Washington and my one-way toll was $17.25 — which I at first thought I’d misread,” Justin Cole said. “With tolls reportedly climbing to around a daily one-way peak of $34.50, that is going to introduce a real hardship for people on low wages or working in the nonprofit or public sector.”

Others took to social media to express their outrage, with the hashtags #I66tolls and #highwayrobbery trending.

“This is like a bad telethon, watching the number go higher and higher all morning,” tweeted commuter Cameron Gray.

“The tolls on I-66 are being increased so only the 1% can afford to use it. Time to get that private jet,” said another.

“It’s price gouging,” said Virginia Del.-elect Danica Roem (D), who won office last month on a platform that focused on traffic in her suburban Prince William County district. She said she will push to cap tolls in the coming General Assembly session.

“We are talking about $34.50 for a few miles inside the Beltway. That’s clearly price gouging,” Roem said. “Where else in the country do you pay a $34.50 toll to go somewhere?”

I have to say, a $34 toll for a 10-mile trip is extravagantly high. I would never pay it. Here’s a tip to the whiners: Don’t have to pay it either! Just drive on I-66 like you always have! There are no fewer lanes than there were before. Was traffic on I-66 this morning any worse than it was last week? No? Then get over it!

As long as you’re not the person paying them, high toll fares are good news. When the state covers its cost of setting up the HOT lane infrastructure, it will devote surplus revenue to multimodal improvements — buses, Metrorail, bicycle, pedestrian facilities — that take commuters off I-66 and make the highway a little less congested for everyone else.

As for the proposal by Del.-elect Danica Boem, D-Manassas, to cap the tolls, it’s time for an economics lesson. The tolls are driven by demand. If the toll reaches $34, that’s because people are willing to pay that much for a quicker trip. If you cap the toll at, say, $10, too many people will crowd the HOT lanes, and average driving speed could well drop below the guaranteed 45 miles per hour. That would kill the reward for ride sharing, and fewer ride shares would mean more cars on the road.

Carpools, vans and buses get to use the HOT lanes for free. If you really, really, really want to use the HOT lanes, then stop your bellyaching, relinquish your privilege as driver of a single-occupancy vehicle, and join a friggin’ carpool!

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36 responses to “Hey, I-66 Whiners: Join a Friggin’ Carpool!

  1. Gov McAuliffe was on WTOP Ask the Gov program last week.

    There were many vocal complaints about the new Tolls inside I-66, which Gov McAuliffe seemed to suggest it was not true that anybody previously using the HOV lanes would need to pay high HOT lane tolls snow (since only HOV-2 can use).

    But I thought Gov McAuliffe failed to realize/acknowledge that two cohorts of exempt HOV drivers are now facing heavy HOT tolls: (1) exempt clean fuel (hybrid/plug-in) drivers , and (2) Dulles airport traffic.

    Up until June_2011 if you lived out I-66 you could buy a hybrid and get Clean Fuel plates to ride fee on HOV. I do not have the numbers but somewhere around 8,000 drivers (not me). So some these are folks are finding their ex-burb commute strategy failing now.

    So I think we are hearing unhappiness from the exempt HOV drivers. McAuliffe clarified that 2022 it will go to from HOT-2 to HOT-3, due to federal mandate, he said.

    I would just say to the rest of Virginia, this is what we get in NoVA: An extremely expensive toll road, that zero of our tax dollars went to. Apparently our NoVA tax dollars are going elsewhere in the state, for nice non-toll roads… is that fair to say?

  2. All the fru fru over METRO, transit and land-use and all that blather… and this is where things really are at… basically all the major interstate roads around the Washington METRO area and their use by folks who want to commute daily in SOLO cars from their homes in the exurbs to their Washington MSA jobs.

    And for decades, VDOT has been trying to figure out how to build more roads to support solo driving – when raw/undeveloped land to build those roads – just no longer exists. The only way to add lanes would be to condemn development properties – and the net result of adding lanes is more folks driving solo..and who immediately fill up any new lanes.

    Same thing in Hampton. Same thing in many other urban areas in the US.

    So.. VDOT has changed it’s approach and no longer is going to build more lanes but rather put dynamic tolls on existing lanes – and provide options to people. They can still drive solo.. in the regular free lanes or they can carpool for free in the toll lanes or they can – for a price – which is determined by supply and demand – pay a toll.

    And the driving public are not happy campers… many are “outraged”.

    but it’s really a dumb-as-a-stump rage because the stock answer from those outrages is to – build more lanes… when there is no more land left to do that even if they had the money. Other say ” increase taxes and build more lanes”. Again – the idea that there is no more land available to do that – is like some kind of a mental block.

    What’s even more interesting is … how this affects :

    1. – settlement patterns
    2. – “smart growth” – wonder how Stewart Schwartz and company view this
    3. – transit
    4. – autonomous vehicles.

    Make no mistake – this is a major change in the way that VDOT thinks about congestion and building more roads as a response.

  3. It’s way too early to have an accurate picture of what impact tolling inside the Beltway will have on traffic, transit, local streets, etc. We need several months’ data.

    Having said this, I never bought the VDOT argument that the tolling will not have an adverse impact on traffic and local streets. The new plan does “capture” some non-car-pool drivers that used to go free. This includes hybrid cars, Dulles Airport users, and cheats. It was common knowledge that the odds of solo drivers being stopped on I-66 was pretty small. I’ve heard estimates of 25% and up. Now these people have to make the choice of paying high tolls, driving other streets, forming car pools or taking transit.

  4. Unless you drive the corridor, perhaps you should get off your effing, pompous high horse. Although only three rush hour cycles have been completed since the opening, a couple of things are clear and suggest this is an even bigger cluster fuck than first imagined if the trends continue. One, the lanes inside the beltway are not being used efficiently, particularly during the evening rush. Two, the toll lanes are creating a new logjam at the I-66/I-495 merge in the morning. Three, arterial traffic on the arterials is an even greater nightmare than it was previously. Four, the carpools you espouse (HOV2 is hardly a carpool) make up a minority of the trips.

    VDOT expects us to believe their numbers (they of the 460 debacle,etc.), I never believe their numbers and have rarely found them to be even close to the mark. They say a picture says a thousand words, photos of traffic last evening on I-66 and the arterials indicate VDOT is full of shit. That being said, it is their numbers that show only a third of the users are HOV2 on a road with fewer vehicles than normal. So much for social engineering being a viable option for transportation planning in the Commonwealth.

    As for the high toll fares being good news, look Nimrod, I don’t care how much VDOT spends on developing “multimodal improvements — buses, Metrorail, bicycle, pedestrian facilities — that take commuters off I-66 and make the highway a little less congested for everyone else”, they might as well simply flush it down the shitter as it will have little to no impact on the traffice, reality is a bitch isn’t it.

    Buses and Metrorail simply aren’t an option for many particularly given the limited scope of Metro, that last mile (or five miles) can be a real expensive bitch and that is aside from its operational issues. VRE is even worse. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities don’t really work for those who live outside the beltway and given the cardiovascular fitness (specifically the lack thereof) of your target commuters not only not an option but a significant risk to their remaining on the right side of the grass.

    VDOT and the Commonwealth have consistently failed to understand the reality of the NOVA workforce and commuting patterns and yes the existing settlement patterns. Although those were largely created by the morons running the local jurisdictions, you and the imbeciles in Richmond need to understand that it is a reality that is not going to change and deal with it. You can scream “smart growth” and walkable communities all you want, it is not going to change one damn thing, its too effing late and presumes that those doing the hiring would buy into it. Newsflash, most of those entities don’t care where their employees live or how long their commutes are, their principal (perhaps only) concern is how long it takes to get to and from (insert Federal Agency of your choice).

    With regard to “the proposal by Del.-elect Danica Boem, D-Manassas, to cap the tolls” and your suggestion that “it’s time for an economics lesson”, I’ve known the Delegate Elect a very, very long time and in those areas of perceived weakness, I would suggest you let the Delegate’s constituents, of which I am one, give the lessons. Yes the tolls are driven by demand and yes if the toll reaches $34, it’s because people are willing to pay that much for an artificially created quicker trip. If the toll is cap at any price and more people crowd the HOT lanes causing the average driving speed to drop below the guaranteed 45 miles per hour well boo-fucking hoo.

    There are far too many of us that can not relinquish our “privilege” as the driver of a single-occupancy vehicle as carpools, Metro and buses do not effectively cover the expanse of territory inside the beltway that we have to cover after arriving at the office so that we can do our jobs. Perhaps you would take a portion of those tolls and pay us to retire so we can free up space on I-66. Sheesh, I got through all of that without mentioning the siphoning off of NOVA taxes to pay for things like the Coalfields Expressway or the pristine roads (in comparison to NOVA) that grace the greater Richmond area.

    • @Mom – okay .. what is your solution?

      lots of bitching and complaining about VDOT… but what to do instead?

      My understanding is that there is no more – contiguous right of way unless
      you start taking developed properties.. no?

      Also – HOV is now 3 or more, right?

      Also – doesn’t this actually HELP Arlington and Alexandra in terms of surface street congestion and parking?

      VDOT has had it’s share of fails.. but you gotta give them credit -they did tolls on I-95 and the beltway and at Hampton and .. they’re probably going to stick. Isn’t 395 next?

      • HOV-2 on I-66 up to 2022 then HOV-3 (see my post above)

      • That’s the problem in dealing with reality, apart from more of the same there likely is no “solution”. I like Capt. Kirk don’t believe in the Kobayashi Maru scenario, except perhaps in this instance, particularly as existing mass transit (such that it is) is failing. See: VRE and Metro whose fiscal realities can not continue ad infinitum.

        There’s more contiguous ROW available than purported and the existing footprints could be made more efficient, the problem are the Guardians of Arlington in their Ivory, excuse me, Green Towers.

        For the moment it is HOV2, I believe it changes to HOV3 in ’22.

        Arlington street congestion through the first day and a half is worse, Alexandria is too far away to factor into the equation.

        I don’t drive the tolled section of I-95 much except when trekking down to Woodbridge to shake my fist at the PWC BOCS. That being said, I have analyzed the plans to convert I-66 outside the beltway to a similar HOT configuration. The long and short of it is that the resulting cluster fuck and diminished capacity, yes DIMINISHED, will create an environment that might well lead to armed Rebellion. See Bacon’s Rebellion circa 1676.

        • no armed or unarmed rebellion… and I’m pretty skeptical of the right-of-way issue… also.

          THe enemy is SOV and as Washington grows – if SOV continues – things get worse.

          VDOT says they are focused on moving people – not just solo vehicles.

          I don’t see how expanding roads for more solo vehicles is a solution even if you could squeeze in one more.. after that -you’re back to the same problem.

          solution? No rebellions please… that just silly talk.

          this is going on across the country in urban area after urban area -they’re going to tolled lanes… because no one has come up with a better solution despite everyone saying there is one.

    • I am with Mom here. These tolls are a abomination. They compound problems exponentially. They delay solutions until total collapse. They constitute cruel and unusual punishment on the poor and middle class while they allow the wealthy to feast off everyone else in a multitude of obscene ways, including whizzing thought obscenely expensive tolls that mean nothing of financial consequence to them (while allowing them quick easy and convenient transport that only they can afford through the mess they created) while they wreak great harm on everyone else, particularly hurting most badly the most vulnerable and hard working men and women in our society. This the rule of PIGS. It is immoral, and inexcusable. Akin to Imperial Rome or the French Sun King regimes at their most venal worst.

      I wrote what follows slightly edited as comments on this website last Feb:

      But before those tolls were imposed, I did try to learn about how those new dynamic toll regimes would work, to figure out what they were designed to do, and as best I could figure out the likely consequences they would impose on the Fairfax County, its people, and others traveling through. Based on what I read back then, and wrote at the time here, I am not at all surprised by what you say is happening there now.

      I strongly suspect that the new and expanded dynamic toll regimes have greatly acerbated gridlock throughout the county and its road net. I also suspect that the new toll regimes are now causing ever heavier traffic (and its resulting gridlock) to spread throughout the county’s road net. And also that this toll regime and how it operated deepens that traffic and its gridlock into ever more intersections and neighborhoods served by those intersections and into ever more commercial and public service areas – like schools and fire houses that serve people who live, work, shop and play in those places.

      If I am right about the consequences of these new toll regimes and how they operate, those regimes will continue to do ever more harm, in ever more ways, to ever more people in the county and region, including the children and elderly now, as these tolls keep the tolled roads open and congestion free for the wealthy as they are designed to ratchet up tolls ever higher so as to “force the tolled roads open as is needed to insure at all times the quick and convenient travel for those travelers who can afford or must out of desperation pay those ever higher tolls as they reach obscene proportions.

      So, as traffic mounts in the county, as surely it will by intentional policies behind these tolls that serve the economic interests of those few in charge of what happens in Fairfax, this mechanism will continue to ratchet up tolls in more and more locales to force ever more cars off the toll roads and onto jammed up toll free lanes and from there then onto ever more public primary and secondary and feeder roads including roads and intersections serving and inside peoples neighborhoods where people and their families live, shop, play.

      I also suspect that there is likely a compounding and cumulative effect that will locks down more and more of Fairfax County over time. One that spreads heavy traffic and its resultant gridlock throughout ever more neighborhoods as longer and denser traffic jams at closer in choke points, and it will continue to backup into long lines of traffic in all directions on what otherwise would be open pavement until the tail-end of these growing traffic monsters jams up traffic in ever more intersections that will freeze up into gridlock that will eventually last for hours before this dissipate. This will eventually force more and more people out of the homes and out of this region, given their inability to live a decent life there anyone. This forced exodus is likely the hidden agenda behind these tolls since the county does not consider these neighborhood sufficiently profitable tax wise, indeed consider families living in their homes there to impose an unnecessary tax burden on the wealthy, so those in power are intent on chasing these fellow citizens out of the county.

      So too, as gridlocks pile up one behind the other across neighborhoods, it will spread out over open country sides as commuters from ever farther away try to avoid the growing snarled mess by trying ever more short cuts though communities and ‘drive arounds’ out into the countryside.

      Of course, all of this destroys jobs, schooling, shopping, and health services, including emergency services. Quite literally, it destroys the lives of residents and commuters as well as the future northern Virginia and the region. The only winners under this scheme that I can divine are those people able, willing or desperate enough to pay ever higher tolls, a dwindling groups I suspect, until they are made up mostly by the most affluent people.

      I can’t imagine a more efficient way to choke off and devastate whole groups of people and their neighborhoods, and ultimately a whole region. It will strike hardest at most all of the suburban families except the wealthy who designed it that way to serve their conveniences and special privileges.

      I suspect too the crisis of the poor and middle class has already arrived. People are growing hopeless, so are moving out altogether. A few months back a cleaning lady who lives in Woodbridge Va. and who works near the Fairfax Courthouse, told me it takes her 2 to 4 hours to get back and forth to work every day each way using back roads. Otherwise it would cost her $60 a day in tolls to use the toll roads where the prices keep on rising. The lady’s husband is a carpenter. He spends up to six hours a day in a truck trying to get to jobs and back home. The married couple have two young children. This was what local leader and rich moguls are imposing on their citizens and others who are forced to travel thought Fairfax daily.

      HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

      A whirlwind suddenly hit Fairfax. In the early 1960s, I-495 spanned the Potomac and Dulles International Airport was completed. This abruptly opened up Fairfax County to the Washington Region for the first time in 300 years. Until then Fairfax County had been the Washington DC’s areas most isolated outpost. A rural place controlled by Virginia’s landed gentry had run the County’s uninterrupted rural past since the late 1700s. Suddenly the county, open up to the outside world, would never be the same.

      For example in the 1960s Simon arrived from New York City to start his new town Reston between the new Dulles Airport and new Capital Beltway. Here he could buy of single hunt country estate of nearly 4000 open rolling acres for his new town. In contrast the Howard County insider James Rouse spent a year assembling hundreds of parcels for his new town of Columbia in Nearby Howard County Md.

      So too like the federal government who earlier had quickly assembled nearly 10,000 acres for Dulles Airport, the outsider Simon showed the world that he could build big, quick and easy in Fairfax. This easy building would soon prove a chronic curse. For, also in the 1960s, the Federal Government for the first time allowed its federal agencies move out of Washington DC proper.

      All these forces suddenly hit rural somnolent Fairfax out of the blue with lightening speed. For the first time ever in 300 years Fairfax had plentiful open land convenient to most every place in the Washington region, and an unprepared local government at the beck and call of powerful commercial special interests. A land rush of prodigious unexpected proportions was on.

      By the 1980’s Northern Virginia’s I-95 and its related interstates were linked together into a highly confined matrix of key crossroads and geographic features that, working together, force massive amounts of the nation’s eastern seaboard north south traffic into a great funnel that had to run through Northern Virginia. At the same time, those roads in Northern Virginia had to funnel massive and growing amounts of regional and supra-regional commuter traffic that now tied commuter traffic from DC, Baltimore, N. Virginia and the Virginia Piedmont and tidelands together. Fredericksburg and Richmond too were being drawn into the daily snarl.

      Why?

      Lets look at Tyson’s Corner as a prime example that answers the question why? Its discussed in my comment to earlier article here titled Unplanned Obsolescence: Fairfax County’s Office Parks and posted on March 1, 2017. That example that happened alongside the beltway is another iteration of what happened alongside the Dulles Toll Road a couple of years later.
      In 1983 developers were building and leasing to a very large single users large low rise headquarters office building that was nestled alongside the Capital Beltway in Virginia near Tysons. The sites were difficult, wooded and rolling. They had very poor access, served by older winding under engineered two lane public road. A strong independent local government should have rejected these project as proposed. But the manta of the day was “the Capital Beltway is Fairfax County’s Main Street.” This was the critical flaw in the regions development plan. Local government did not have the power or resources to control powerful private commercial interests intent on milking the gift of the Capital Beltway for all it was worth. This is plain, given what had been built before 1982, but especially after 1983. But it is also human nature, acting in a case of first impression. So all this is an understandable abuse of a great asset, the Interstate Highway System.

      Still the locals and Fed should have known this by 1983. By then the limited access problems were already choking obvious over development inside Tysons. Gridlock was growing at a startling pace around all its major intersections, forcing cars onto the few back road options available. For example going out the back way using International drive and Springhill Road intersection to Dulles Toll Road to get by the back way to the American Legion Bridge. Despite these obvious limits naturally imposed on Tyson, its huge office boom roared on, and spread outside Tysons to secondary sites that plainly by then could also not handle the traffic loads imposed. Despite the obvious, no one could stop building. The interstate’s illusory assess was cocaine. And the bridge spanning Capital Beltway had opened Fairfax Country up to a gold rush. Isolated before, now it seemed to be convenient to everywhere. People did not realize how fragile and limited that convenience was. Powerful business interests refused to accept those limitations when they became obvious. Making money is hard to stop.

      WHAT TO DO NOW?

      For one thing we need to do what Arlington County did to rebuild its failed downtown that by 1980 had been emptied out by the land rush to the promise land out beyond the Beltway in Fairfax. Arlington first learned from all its mistakes in rebuilding Rosslyn in the 1960s and early 1970s atop an awful land use development plan that replaced trashy little strips commercial industrial uses with trashy cheap high rise buildings that later proved impossible to fully retrofit later despite Arlington’s’ best efforts.

      Instead, for the rest of their new downtown corridor out to Glebe Road, Arlington made hard decisions, and overcame great obstacles to achieve its historic recovery. This included massive commercial redevelopment, high rise buildings as well as mid rise, and low rise redevelopment with a dynamic mix of uses in an earlier failed downtown next to single residential occupied by highly educated people. The achievement was a far harder than building on the clean slate from which the first iteration of Tyson’s arose.

      Looking back now, I consider Courthouse to Ballston planning and redevelopment a modern day miracle. It reinvented the possible and did it under very difficult conditions, a model of local excellence by local government and citizenry built on past mistakes. The spectacular results are plain to see today.

      Looking back to Tysons in hindsight, that fact that it was done on that clean slate and open field politically accounted for Tyson’s quick early success and its ultimate problems that became apparent quickly. But unlike Arlington, Fairfax compounded its problems instead of learning from its mistakes.

      So what to do now?

      We have the tools, including very new ones, to build settlement patterns that co-exist and are an integrated part of contemporary transportation modes that caters to the automobile as a predominate mode, among other forms.

      And we have multiple tools now that will work to eat traffic around “Interstates. ” These tools include how to rebuild of old traffic generating neighborhoods into “Traffic Eating Communities.” We know such communities work because we’ve built them successfully before. Arlington’s new downtown from Ballston to Courthouse and adjoining neighborhoods work together today to Eat Traffic there and throughout the region. This is precisely the opposite of how Fairfax County works to spread harm. Today there is no more traffic congestion in front of the office complexes along Fairfax Drive in Ballston than there was in 1985. Yet this new downtown has many millions more square feet (office, hotel, apartment, commercial) now than when its revitalization was just getting started in 1985.

      What not to do?

      Citizens must reject ‘grandiose’ highway schemes proposed for special priority and disguised as “congestion relief” while intended to serve only the wealthy special interests. Citizens must rid northern Virginia once and for all of this chronic plague, and at long last start to solve gridlock long term in ways the serve everyone not just the rich.

      How?

      Citizens need to evolve settlement patterns that require less travel, not infrastructure that facilitates more movement while throttling the changes for sustainable and highly efficient and healthy development. Beware of false GODS – New transport infrastructure most always induces settlement patterns that cannot be provided with good mobility, regardless of the cost. In short, future sustainability in northern Virginia requires that citizens reduce the amount of commuter and transport time, and ease the energy and wasted time now required for peoples’ quality of life. See Reise.

      But I suggest here that the root problem lies not with Interstates, but with their abuse by our leaders, as manifest by their human failure at governance locally, regionally, and state wide. So now, these resultant gridlock problems are insoluble absent massive reorientation of all neighborhoods in the northern Virginia area into newly designed, altered and built to work as traffic eating units that are served by greatly expanded numbers of access points. An obvious and critical starting point for this fix is Fairfax County. Otherwise Fairfax is stuck with more of the same, continuing obsolesce of the great majority of its single use commercial buildings, and their single use development patterns that spawn and compound traffic instead of eating it.

      The tools to fix this problem are potentially many. For another example, consider a new development traffic generating surcharge for all commercial development that generates “external traffic” over a certain level per square foot, and a healthy tax credit to builders bottom line costs for his or her new development that EATs Traffic per formula. This combination might reverse chronic and long standing pernicious habits of many developers and builders who intentionally or otherwise make money by foisting off their resultant costs to build and operate their projects on the public at large.

      This traffic reduction tax credit program could be applied to new development within designated Traffic Eating Zones. This tax credit program also would include new traffic eating redevelopment zones, an incentive regime similar to the successful historic tax credit program for single buildings and also for building within a designated district, and could extend to new planned unit development meeting criteria as a Traffic Eater.

      These traffic eating tax credits would also extend to tenants and owners who chose to lease and/or buy space to occupy within such designated zones or stand alone buildings. What are the constituent parts of these new traffic eating development and redevelopment zones? Here most likely a mix of custom tailored solutions woven into base fundamentals, like Arlington’s new downtown, plus modern elements such as suggested by Dan Slone, combined with modern technologies, such as driver-less cars, and drones.

      Importantly within these examples there are nearly endless subsets of iterations and moving parts that can be mixed and matched to meet the individual needs of a wide array of site and market circumstances to creatively achieve an array of beneficial results, including those that eat traffic. Thus Traffic Eating Development today includes the dynamic and synergistic mix and placement of traditional uses amid a synergistic mix of new transport and life support modes, PLUS new opportunities to weave an expanding array of technologies deep within earlier proven traffic eating fabrics of communities.

      • Mom and TMT –

        My earlier version of the toll problem was a bagged assed monster. To sharpen the monster’s focus, I have shrunk and refocused the issue below. You two guys live there, so maybe you could correct and expand this prose. Here goes:

        Before these tolls were imposed, I tried to learn how those new dynamic toll regimes worked, what they were designed to do, and what their likely consequences would be on the Fairfax, its people, and others traveling through. Based on what I read back then, I am not surprised by what is happening there now.

        I strongly suspect that the new and expanded dynamic toll regimes have greatly acerbated gridlock throughout the county on its road net and beyond. That the new toll regimes are now causing ever heavier traffic (and its resulting gridlock) to spread and deepen throughout the county, including on ever more primary, secondary, and feeder roads serving commercial, residential and public service areas – schools, fire houses, strip centers, and neighborhoods that serve people who live, work, shop and play there.

        If I am right, these new toll regimes and how they operate will continue to do ever more harm in ever more ways to ever more people in the county and region. These tolls use monetary penalties to force those who cannot afford the obscenely costly tolls off those roads that have been designed by the wealthy elite to assure their own quick and convenient travel for themselves or for others desperate enough to pay tolls they cannot afford.

        Meanwhile, for those who have been forced off the toll roads, they must battle traffic jams on the toll free lanes they are able to use and on all of the other free access roads of all kinds ( primary, secondary and feeder roads) including their intersections, that then become choke points for lower income commuters, instead of serving their neighborhoods where they and their families live, shop, play.

        All this has been designed by and for the benefit of the rich who have forced this regime on their less affluent neighbors, or on those commuters passing through the county from outlying areas to earn a living. This spreading gridlock that now confronts most people who are now forced to drive non-tolled roads will also have a compounding and cumulative effect. One that locks down over time more and more of Fairfax County and outlying areas as the obscene tolls divert ever more traffic there that engulfs more and more choke points over an ever increasing area. This creates gridlock on what otherwise would be open pavement until the traffic monsters growing across the landscape bring most all traffic outside the tolls roads (serving the wealthy) to an eventual halt, stranding lower income travelers for hours until the gridlock dissipates.

        Of course, all of this dysfunction destroys the quality of jobs, schools, shopping and health services, and the quality of life of residents and commuters generally, along with the future of northern Virginia and the region. But it strikes hardest most all of the suburban families in the county, except for the wealthy few who designed it that way to serve their conveniences and special privileges, at everyone else’s expense.

        Hence, these area wide traffic nightmares are now also forcing more and more people out of their homes and jobs in their county, and region, given their inability to afford to live a decent life there anymore. It’s a forced exodus, one perhaps driven by decision makers who do not consider some residential neighborhoods sufficiently profitable tax wise, or consider them an unnecessary drain on the county’s tax base.

        I suspect too the crisis of the poor and middle class has already arrived. People are growing hopeless, so are moving out altogether. A few months back a cleaning lady who lives in Woodbridge Va. and who works near the Fairfax Courthouse, told me it takes her 2 to 4 hours to get back and forth to work every day each way using back roads. Otherwise it would cost her $60 a day in tolls to use the toll roads where the prices keep on rising. The lady’s husband is a carpenter. He spends up to six hours a day in a truck trying to get to jobs and back home. The married couple have two young children. This was what local leader and rich moguls are imposing on their citizens and others who are forced to travel thought Fairfax daily.

        • Some reactions. I have always been skeptical of converting existing general purpose lanes to tolled Express Lanes. I’m not troubled when additional lanes are added to a highway and become tolled lanes. Then like the Beltway and I-95 South, people have a choice. Tolled lanes also permit reliable express bus service on those lanes. The Beltway Express Lanes have allowed reliable express bus service to Tysons for the first time.

          I am not convinced that, even with the addition of a new E-bound lane from the DTR to Ballston, there won’t be more traffic on nearby roads, including neighborhood streets. But a few days’ data is simply not enough information to draw any conclusions.

          VDOT claimed tolling would actually allow more even use of I-66 based on data showing that, under the old system, there were periods when road capacity was underutilized, even as some periods were over-utilized. I want to see the data.

          I see three other big problems. One is the MWCOG plan to push as much growth into Activity Centers as possible. Setting aside my concerns about coercion, there are many Activity Centers that have no access to rail or BRT. For example, McLean and Annandale in Fairfax County. More people; more jobs equals more traffic.

          Two is the failure of Fairfax County to amend its zoning laws to require a measureable and enforceable TDM plan for all up-planning and up-zoning applications (probably denser than townhouses). Walk your talk.

          Three is the laughable nature of TDM enforcement. It’s self-measured generally every two years. And the penalties are pretty minor. I’ve suggested to the BoS that it direct its board auditor to audit TDM compliance in Fairfax County. The existing system is not unlike a student who goes to his/her teacher at the end of the school year and says “I learned everything you taught me this year. Give me an ‘A.'”

          The proper response is: “Hold it. Not so fast. I need to give you a test to see how much you did learn this year.” Developers make millions and millions with added density but also promise to cut SOV trips substantially as condition of gaining the rezoning. I don’t begrudge them a dime, but they damn well better prove they’ve made the trip reductions and on a consistent basis.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            TMT – Thanks for your highly pertinent comments.

            Regarding VOT data on real time traffic impacts of toll regimes locally and regionally – can citizens access this data in intelligible form? And can citizens rely on that data’s pertinence and accuracy?

            Regarding your listed three }big” problems.

            1/ “the MWCOG plan to push traffic into Activity Centers,” as you suggest holds the potential to do far more harm than good absent competence, will and integrity of government yet to be deployed in N. Va.

            2/ “the failure of Fairfax County to amend its zoning laws to require a measureable and enforceable TDM plan for all up-planning and up-zoning applications (probably denser than townhouses). This suggests that todays traffic likely will only get far worse, and particularly if Fairfax can successfully attract more development without concurrent traffic infrastructure to handle that future traffic, plus reduce today’s.

            3/ Three is the laughable nature of TDM enforcement. It’s self-measured generally every two years. And the penalties are pretty minor …” This suggests that Fairfax intends to continue the irresponsible policies that have caused todays gridlock.

            What remedies are available to citizens here?

            It is remarkable that our environmental laws that protect citizens are so developed and refined, and so actively enforced in so many different areas of abuse, while traffic abuse, including abuse of Federal Interstates, but reason of grossly irresponsible land development that destroy interstate commerce and regional health and prosperity are so feeble. Wonder how that might be changed?

    • Wow, Mom, I’m glad you got that off your chest!

      Interesting point about the new choke points. That may be due to the novelty of the tolls at those locations, and hopefully the choke points will diminish as people get more accustomed to the new traffic patterns. If they don’t… if VDOT failed to anticipate the problem… then you’ve got a legitimate beef, and someone at VDOT ought to be strung up by the thumbs.

      But on a larger point — the necessity of the transportation system evolving to more shared ridership arrangements — I don’t have a lot of sympathy. Shared ridership doesn’t have to be commuter rail, or even buses. It can be vans and carpooling. And even if such arrangements are not right for you, perhaps they are right for others. That’s pretty much the story for every major metropolitan region in the country. There’s no getting around it. Railing at VDOT (and bloggers) for acknowledging that reality is mis-spent fury.

      • Only time will tell with respect to the new choke point but if it remains, it is simply a repeat of their past errors when they redesigned the interchange to incorporate the 495 Hot Lanes. Stringing them up by their thumbs is too kind by far.

        As to the rest of your argument, it underscores the principal problem, the DC Metro area is unlike any other metropolitan area. The lack of effective and efficient existing public transit like that in NYC and the lack of defined commercial core within the beltway make your solutions unworkable for most. Its simply a matter of geography and decades of poor planning that has resulted in a distributed workforce with a mobility requirement. What works in large cities like NYC or Philly, or smaller cities like Wilmington and Richmond, simply will not work here. Repeating your tired mantra will not change the reality and it is the reality that needs to be addressed with realistic solutions and not pipe dreams. The Commonwealth has paid for and is currently paying for too many unrealistic pipe dreams as it is.

        • So, we agree that Northern Virginians did a terrible job planning. (We can say that even while acknowledging that the planners’ job was especially difficult, given the division of the metro area into Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.)

          I’m not sure what “tired mantra” you are referring to. The foundational problem in Northern Virginia is dysfunctional land use patterns — unbalanced, scattered, disconnected, autocentric growth. Arlington has done a good job of reshaping its land use patterns, but almost everyone else is getting the message 30 to 40 years later. But once you’ve built your major transportation arteries and locked them into place by permitting sprawl all around them, there’s not enough money in the world to purchase the ROW you need to build more lanes near the urban core. There’s not enough money in the world to maintain the heavy rail system we’ve got — $15 billion in backlogged maintenance and $2 billion in unfunded liabilities — much less expand it. What options does that leave? Essentially only two.

          (1) Begin the long, painful process of zoning and planning for denser, mixed-use communities along the transportation corridors that hold out the hope of supporting mass transit in a fiscally sustainable manner. Two drawbacks to this idea. First, it will take decades to implement. Second, given the realities of politics — see MWATA — mass transit will never become fiscally sustainable.

          The other option is to move to more shared ridership in buses, vans and carpools. That is the ONLY way to squeeze more capacity out of the roads and highways we’ve got. HOT lanes reward people for making the switch.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            “Arlington has done a good job of reshaping its land use patterns, but almost everyone else is getting the message 30 to 40 years later.”

            No, Jim, they got the message 30+ years ago. I know. I was there. Problem was there was too much land, too few rules, and a lot of people making a great deal of money, and those making the most could get most of whatever they wanted to keep playing the game loose and free. And they did. Its looks to be still going on. Will the voters rise up? From the outside, that looks increasingly unlikely, despite the efforts of few. Its a very cynical time we live in.

            Be interesting to know TMT’s opinions on that.

          • To expand on Reed’s comment, Arlington did a good job of reshaping its land use pattern but only in the Ballston corridor. The rest of Arlington is the same sort of mess (and in some cases worse) than the rest of NOVA.

            I did disagree with respect to the voters however, I do see the potential for a voters’ revolt if not full on jihad. We are already seeing the beginnings of it in PWC as the tried and true strategies of our favorite land use attorneys are failing evidendced by each new, poorly crafted, same old same old, development package wrapped in new “smart growth” paper getting summarily shot down in flames. Will it continue, hard to tell but the natives are restless and increasingly hostile.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Mom –

            That is wonderful news regarding a voter uprising. This is a very corrupt system which has been screwing voters for far too long. The time to clean of this swamp is long overdue.

          • re: ” The foundational problem in Northern Virginia is dysfunctional land use patterns — unbalanced, scattered, disconnected, autocentric growth”

            I think you MUST include and address the issue of long distance solo commuting from the exurbs. Is THAT a LAND-USE problem?

            if it is – how would you address it? This is not just NoVa. … it’s the predominant issue in virtually every urbanized area in the US – not only the mega urban regions – but smaller ones – any ones that have peak hour commuting form the exurbs that overwhelms infrastructure that at other times is no where near peak capacity.

            No matter what is done about settlement patterns in the urbanized areas – the 600lb gorilla is the exurban solo commuting.. cars from outside the region – just overwhelming the infrastructure in the region.

            Mom and others seem to think this is a NoVa issue and that VDOT and NoVa have somehow screwed up and not done the right thing.

            I keep asking – what the right thing is but all I get back is vitriol towards public officials who have done the “wrong” thing.

            so come on guys – if this is the wrong thing – what is the right thing?

  5. In terms of people shifting off of the tolled lanes onto surface streets… you’d think that map apps would show the time penalty folly of doing that. Besides my understanding is that non-tolled lanes are still available anyhow.
    Getting off of the limited-access road for a surface street – isn’t going to make any kind of sense at all for most folks.

    At that point -it’s no longer about saving time or the time penalty incurred from congestion – it’s all about avoiding the toll and yes there are folks like that…. but…

    That’s not really logical or sane behavior that one presume such folks would actually have to use in performing their real job work once they get there.

    And I don’t think that argument really affects VDOT decision-making anyhow, because they’re dealing with a much bigger issue – which is how to move the much greater majority of people who do think logically and sanely not the toll “deniers”.

    This is the problem with any Govt level entity trying to accomplish their core mission but in a human environment where behaviors that are more herd-like than intelligent or thoughtful are in play.

    You have to develop things that “work” as a system – it’s just not acceptable to choose to have system-wide gridlock because other solutions caused some folks to divert to surface streets. It’s the tyranny of the majority, eh?

    • At present, the “time penalty” is not terribly significant. The tolled lanes appear to increase that penalty and may force some to pay the state to offset the increased penalty. Its a wonderful place we live in isn’t it.

  6. WTOP news today max toll was $40. they say to discourage certain choke-point routes.

    Actually 4 cohorts are hurt hard by the hefty new tolls:
    1. Clean fuels exemption loss (hybrids/plug-ins)
    2. IAD airport traffic exemption loss
    3. HOV hours are expanded, so prior off-hours users (big one)
    4. Cheaters

  7. i have a lot to say here, but i’m recovering from a dental appointment so i’ll keep this brief.
    @mom – dude i feel your pain but talking shit will not help this. actually, i’ve gone that route entirely, but it only ended up ostracizing me from the people who actually were behind me. i do think jim’s response is…lacking, but he also doesn’t live in nova/know the day to day struggle that is getting into dc.
    @larrytheg – there are zero non-tolled lanes on 66 during rush hour. pay up or don’t enter. i am intrigued by your hampton comment…i’m assuming you are from hpt…what are you saying exactly? that the hov isn’t used in hpt? hpt and the lanes around the coliseum do not compare to anything in nova. moreover, now that they are actually charging for them, equates to double literal highway robbery. there is no need for hot lanes in hrva, and it is a giant scam to siphon away money.
    It is also pointless to even consider the logic behind anyone’s decisions. Mostly because you won’t understand them as you are coming from a different point of view, but more importantly because your understanding is meaningless in this arena.
    Not you personally, and to be clear, I am not attacking, but lets dive into this.

    I will never give EZPass my money voluntarily; I will go out of my way 10x over to avoid it. I have driven 35+ minutes each way from norfolk to chesapeake and back to avoid the ridiculous downtown toll. and as long as infrastructure permits it, i will continue doing so.
    Plus its so odd hearing points of view about transportation vs. points of view about groceries, and not because of the context
    Because we expect to have options. and we will go out of our way to find the best ones for us. However, transportation doesn’t give us options (typically), its one way or no way.

    I could elaborate in depth about how horribly ezpass was initially set up, but don’t want to go into an eight paragraph diatribe and deflect from my points.
    it still is poorly instituted, and how its sole existence is to extract my money and place it into another (extremely undeserving and ungrateful) team’s hands. My point about not elaborating has many levels, but at the top is that you can point out x, y, and z of facts and they may very well but truthful and empower/enable me….and I won’t care.
    Its like last year’s election….I do not give a fuck.
    Sorry for cursing, actually I’m not, but people get upset about it, so I’ll throw that out there. My point is, EZPass could come forward today with free routes and a cure for cancer, and I’d tell them to go fuck themselves.
    You can’t treat people horribly and expect them to rebound when you do. Or rather, its not on people to accept you after acting horrible; its on you to act better, and to pray that eventually they will accept you.
    This is much longer then I wanted it to be, but clearly I’m worked up on it/motivated by this. I will be back for comments when I’m sober.
    Jim, this isn’t whining. This is highway robbery. You would not pay $30 to go from your home to shockoe. Suggesting that simply getting in a carpool is a solution is just going to to add gas to the fire. At least people who operate like me’s fire.

    VDOT and the commonwealth have sold us out to the highest bidder. You can talk about financial flows/woes til the cows come home, but at the end of the day, if you live anywhere in virginia with any kind of population, you are paying to get from a to b.
    And that affects everyone’s bottom line.

    • Point taken, however, I am much too close to this and have lived it for well more than a quarter century. I agree wholeheartedly with you on E-Z Pass and Bacon’s rather vapid commentary. Perhaps I have become too jaded over time or more likely tired of “solutions” offered or imposed by those that truly don’t understand the underlying problem, particularly when those “solutions” seem to do little more than exacerbate the existing problems while lining others pockets with my money.

    • OK, I was flippant. I didn’t feel peoples’ pain. I should have been more empathetic. But I was still right.

      • I really disagree with you here, Jim. As you know I consider all this an outrage. But am constantly surprised when voters put up with it.

      • I see you haven’t dismounted yet. Unless you have become more intimately familiar with the circumstances in the past two days than those of us who have lived them for years, you have no reasonable basis to presumet that your position is correct.

        For what its worth, my commutes in the past two days has been 10-15 minutes longer than those of last week and the commutes home 20 minutes longer on average. If the trend continues, I think we can put to rest VDOT’s BS about no impact on arterial traffic.

  8. again – no solutions here.. just ire..

    re: ” @larrytheg – there are zero non-tolled lanes on 66 during rush hour. pay up or don’t enter.”

    interesting …

    ” i am intrigued by your hampton comment…i’m assuming you are from hpt…what are you saying exactly? that the hov isn’t used in hpt? hpt and the lanes around the coliseum do not compare to anything in nova. moreover, now that they are actually charging for them, equates to double literal highway robbery. there is no need for hot lanes in hrva, and it is a giant scam to siphon away money.”

    that’s not what the existing traffic stats were showing in that area… prior to the tolling… not from there by the way but been there when things were congested.

    “It is also pointless to even consider the logic behind anyone’s decisions. Mostly because you won’t understand them as you are coming from a different point of view, but more importantly because your understanding is meaningless in this arena.”

    carpooled to work for 34 years.. been through 40 or more congested urban areas in the US – at peak rush and have an EZ-pass and more than happy to use it when it gives me value for the money – and it does.

    you gotta be honest here.. you just don’t like tolls…

    but from a realistic point of view – what do you do with peak hour congestion that threatens real gridlock – other that either building more capacity or discouraging more SOV traffic?

    this is not something isolated to NoVa or to VDOT. This evolution to tolls and HOT Lanes is going on – in most major metro areas in this country.

    folks are looking at this at how it affects them personally – and they’re taking it personally -but they really have no real solutions other than they just don’t like it. VDOT and other DOTS would be irresponsible – negligent to not take actions that they can take and again -I’ve yet to see any suggestions on how to fix this other than tolls..

    blaming VDOT won’t fix it.

    blaming Virginia govt won’t fix it.

    I’m pretty sure if there were some genius ideas – they would get “traction”.

    so far.. just a lot of silly

    • You want a solution, fine, I’ll give you the only solution. Stop electing egotistical, arrogant morons to state and local elected office (See: “I’m Marty Effing Nohe NOVA Transportation Czar and Principal Chucklehead). So long as you put the same imbeciles whose only concerns are self-aggrandisement and ensuring their campaign coffers are full, the Commonwealth will continue to follow their lead and those of their appointees on boards like the CTB, Gary Garczynski being the best/worse example.

      Transportation planning in the their hands is quite literally the equivalent of the fox guarding the hen house and will ensure that the Commonwealth will continue to waste money on pet projects and developer roads (Bi-County Parkway) that not only exacerbate existing problems but eliminate funding for projects that might actually make some substantive difference, a circumstance exacerbated by “professional” staffs whose only goal is to please their masters and thus ensure their continued employment.

      Ahh, but therein lies the rub. In order to replace those imbeciles, you have to find qualified replacements. There are two problems with that. First, anyone qualified to rationally examine the issues and potential solutions is generally quickly frustrated by having to repeatedly bang their head against the brick wall of stupidity erected by their elected colleagues. Second, civic pride and sense of duty aside, elected office simply doesn’t put the meat on the table or pay college tuitions except for those reprobates who abuse their offices.

  9. so far… no solutions guys.

    different/better settlement patterns ? Tell me where that has been done ?

    we’re talking about 50 or more metro areas in the US… here … and the “problems” are pretty similar to each other and to NoVa.

    If we have imbeciles in charge – then what would their replacements do – as a “solution”?

    I just don’t see any and it’s not like VDOT has not asked over and over (like they needed to)…

    The basic response that I’ve heard is more asphalt and no tolls…

    that’s what people want but is it really realistic ?

    The tolls are explicit actions to directly challenge SOV driving which is the root of the problem. People want to drive their own cars from home to work – and the more the Metro area grows – the more of them there are – and we’re simply out of room to add more capacity on the major interstates that people want to use to SOV commute.

    It’s like people cannot help themselves and they want what they want – no matter the realities.

    Riding with other people everyday to/from work can suck… no question about it.. heard way more than my share of Howard Stern in the morning!

    But we simply do not have the money nor the land to keep expanding capacity. It’s just not a reality and in my mind no more a reality that the settlement pattern folks expecting people to live near their work – so they can walk or bike or similar… that’s not reality either.

    When we built the interstate beltways around the urban areas – we changed forever how urban areas evolve and develop. The beltways were originally intended to let out of region travelers get around the cities but those same beltways became the way that companies would locate and grow and their workers commute to them.

    At some point -you do run out of right-of-way – that’s a reality. Adding more lanes does not fix the problem – it’s just what you do until you do run out of right-of-way – and then … what do you do?

    Well.. you then try to “manage” the lanes so you can move more people on the same lanes that can no longer be expanded.

    That’s a reality that basically means people will have to choose how they’re going to commute and none of the choices are ones most of us want but they are the choices.

    If you do not do dynamic tools -you are looking at gridlock… literally.

    So what should VDOT be doing instead?

  10. The big complaint seems to be the high price of the tolls. Apparently people do not understand how the tolls “work”.

    These are not traditional tolls. They are not really just setting an arbitrary price and raking in the money.

    The tolls are set by computer according to how many more people can enter the tolls lanes – without causing slow downs.

    The toll guarantees a free-flow trip at a minimum speed.

    The more people who want to get that – the higher the price.

    This is really no different than if you want an airline ticket or a seat in a stadium or even gasoline at the pumps.

    The price varies according to the demand.

    If the toll was lowered – then the toll lanes would gridlock and no one would be getting any less congested trip for their money – and the toll lanes would then probably not be used by people anymore if it did not offer a quicker trip but instead no different than the free lanes.

    I’m not sure if this has to be explained because people really do not understand it or that people DO understand it but they are vociferously opposed to it – to the concept itself of dynamic congestion tolling.

    Let’s pretend that VDOT gets told to do away with congestion tolling… what happens next?

    I don’t see any solutions… The General Assembly is not going to raise the gas tax on all of Virginia to pay for more roads in NoVa… just not going to happen – but even IF it DID happen – there is really no way to expand capacity on the road network as a whole.

    You could expand some roads in some places perhaps – but adding contiguous new lanes for any distance is just not reality.

    Think about how many interchanges and overpasses would have to be rebuilt and in doing so – developed properties condemned and bulldozed.

    That’s what they did with I-95 south when they added HOT Lanes. They rebuilt about 15 interchanges and overpasses – at a cost in excess of a billion dollars -and there is really no way to add more lanes anymore unless you’re going to go back and tear down those interchanges and rebuild them – again.

    I hear the anger and the complaints but I just don’t see how this gets fixed without billions of dollars… that the rest of Virginia is not about to pay for.

  11. Here’s the RPV :

    ON 5 DECEMBER 2017 IN UNCATEGORIZED, VA GOP NEWS
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    COMMENTS OFF ON MCAULIFFE’S SKY-HIGH I-66 TOLLS FINALLY ARRIVE
    MCAULIFFE’S SKY-HIGH I-66 TOLLS FINALLY ARRIVE
    — Today’s $40 fee makes the $17 Republicans warned about seem quaint —

    RPV Chairman John Whitbeck issued the following statement:

    “In 2015, Virginia Republicans sounded the alarm: Terry McAuliffe’s plan to toll I-66 inside the beltway would come with sky-high tolls and no new lanes to show for it. The Governor called Republicans liars.”

    “Unfortunately, not only were we right to warn about tolls, our worst fears missed on the low side. This morning some drivers paid $40 to use Interstate 66 inside the beltway.”

    “A less cynical person might think it’s a coincidence that these tolls took effect in Northern Virginia after voters had gone to the polls. Having worked around Terry McAuliffe and his team for four years now – and with $40 tolls now a reality – I don’t think I’ve been cynical enough. Governor McAuliffe owes Republicans an apology for his rhetoric in 2015, and Governor-elect Northam needs to immediately tell Northern Virginia how he intends to clean up McAuliffe’s mess.”

    so my question is – how will the GOP “fix” this? Will they pass legislation capping the tolls or perhaps just doing away with the tolls altogether and if they do this – will people then want them to intervene and make changes to other tolled roads?

    So then we’ll have the GOP and General Assembly deciding tolling in Va?

    it’ll be interesting…

  12. This is so much fun! I’M RETIRED! I don’t have to drive I-66 or even I-95 any longer. But based on NoVa’s experience with the latter, finding a way to get a single rider into your car is hardly a big deal. Good God, did you never hear of a slug line?? This will sort itself out. I am 101% in favor of cracking down on single occupancy use of these roads and I’m highly resistant to paying the taxes necessary to whisk every SOV at public expense between downtown and that farmette west of Gainesville at 70 mph.

    Meanwhile, Jim, the rollout has been badly handled. Not only has no VDOT or local government effort been made to accommodate ad hoc ride sharing, but also the surge of SOV traffic evading the tolls through the back roads of inner Fairfax, Falls Church and Arlington has been — notable. Next steps the neighbors around here are contemplating: glass bottles and boxes of roofing nails added to the morning streetscape.

    In short — Mom is right. People are mad. But the reason the reaction this time is so virulent is that so many folks to the west who used to do their SOV trips just before or after the long-established HOV times — stressful enough but they’ve adjusted — now find themselves caught in the expanded hours and either have to leave home much earlier/return much later or pay these extreme tolls. That can be tough on a young family in the ‘ burbs. VDOT could have eased into those expanded hours, but no, everything has hit at once — except HOV-3, deferred for 4 years.

    • I don’t think the slug lines have developed yet for I-66, so that is not a current option. Slugging never took off on I-66, interesting to see if that happens now.

  13. re: ” Meanwhile, Jim, the rollout has been badly handled. Not only has no VDOT or local government effort been made to accommodate ad hoc ride sharing, but also the surge of SOV traffic evading the tolls through the back roads of inner Fairfax, Falls Church and Arlington has been — notable. Next steps the neighbors around here are contemplating: glass bottles and boxes of roofing nails added to the morning streetscape.”

    Perhaps room for improvement… but part of this is that people are going to be mad no matter what – because this basically impacts their solo commutes and that’s their preferred method of getting there and back and riding with “others” is less desirable and for some, there’s the “tinge” of being shoved into a lower class of folks who have to use “public” transit -perhaps.

    I suspect if local officials actually did take steps to make use of surface streets harder for those trying to evade the tolls.. would not be viewed as a “better” thing but actually more collaboration with the “enemy” from those affected by the tolls.

    People who are affected by “cut-through” traffic – need to put intense pressure on their elected – and VDOT – to implement traffic calming measures of which they are many different kinds and are very effective at stopping cut-through traffic.

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