Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Stay in your lane


Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.
MoCo bus lanes get a yes: The Planning Board endorsed plans to dedicate lanes to BRT on Wisconsin Avenue/Rockville Pike as well as several other corridors around the county. (Gazette)

HOT lanes' cool reception: Not very many people are using the Beltway HOT lanes. Why? Transurban says it'll take time to get used to them. Stewart Schwartz says designers midjudged demand for toll lanes. Eno's Joshua Schank says you need to price all lanes, not just some, to get congestion reduction. (WAMU)

Parking cents in Bethesda: Ike Leggett proposes raising Bethesda parking rates to $2/hour on the street and making parking lot and garage rates flat rather than varying by number of hours. The Chamber of Commerce wants the county to tax businesses instead of charging more for parking. (Examiner)

Cyclists under attack: Armed men attacked 2 cyclists Tuesday night on the Custis Trail, successfully taking one's cell phone and sending him to the hospital. Police have been increasing patrols after similar attacks on pedestrians. (Post)

Alexandria's "trolley" defended: Alexandria's Transportation Commission doesn't want to cut the King Street "Trolley" bus from 15 minute to 20 minute headways. There was also a request for bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the capital plan. (Patch)

What school will go to St. E's?: DC is looking for academic institutions for a tech hub at Saint Elizabeths. The city put bidding for mixed-use development on hold until it finds the right university first. (City Paper)

5333 gets permits: Despite fierce opposition, the Cafritz apartment building proposal at 5333 Connecticut Avenue got permits to begin construction for the matter-of-right project, including an all-glass facade which was pretty universally panned. (WBJ)

Gray: I'm energetic!: Mayor Vincent Gray strongly defended his record on NewsTalk and took issue with Muriel Bowser's criticisms. Political observers saw the beginnings of a Gray re-election campaign. (City Paper, Examiner)

And...: Does Grade DC matter at all? (Post) ... NoMA and H Street get a little cheaper. ... Part of a warehouse in Truxton Circle will be designated historic. (UrbanTurf)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Two interesting things not discussed yesterday re: the rent decrease.

1) Upper NW had a larger rent decrease;

2) Even with the rent decrease, the NOMA/H St submarket has a higher average rent than the R-B Corridor.

by H St LL on Apr 5, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

Don't worry about the HOT lanes, by adding another massive HOT lane at 95 before finding out how 495 would pan out, all of transportation problems in Fairfax will be solved.

The only good that came from the project is express bus service which is helping connect south county with the silver line corridor. Instead of adding more of these debacles, they should be investing in bus only lanes for Rolling Road, Braddock, and Van Dorn which would reduce travel times for the buses by 15 minutes, and create both a cost and time savings for users

by Tysons Engineer on Apr 5, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

The HO/T lanes don't address the biggest problem on that Virginia side of the Beltway -- getting across the Potomac River between Fairfax and Montgomery counties.

by WFY on Apr 5, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

Does anyone have a total final dollar cost figure for the HOT lanes 495 project?

by Nick on Apr 5, 2013 9:35 am • linkreport

If they widen the American Legion Bridge...all the job growth will go to Tysons/Dulles Corridor. Something Maryland does not want.

There current polices are telling Maryland commuters who work in VA to move to VA or sit in traffic

by jcp on Apr 5, 2013 9:36 am • linkreport

Haven't you guys figured out that the HOT lanes were just another scheme by Republicans to transfer taxpayer money to private business interests? It was never about reducing congestion or improving the lot of the commuter, it was always about enriching the private sector via the public purse. So by those metrics, the HOT lanes have been a resounding success, which is why they will continue to be built.

by Juanita de Talmas on Apr 5, 2013 9:40 am • linkreport

@H St LL, also this:

"apartments rent for $2,513 currently versus $2,567 in the first quarter of 2012. (The rents are a weighted average of all the units in the city.)"

by charlie on Apr 5, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

Oh lord! Two dollars for an hour of parking! What's next you want me to park in the cheaper municipal garage? What about my rights!

by drumz on Apr 5, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

I'm skeptical of a lot of historic preservation these days but I like the Truxton Circle warehouse and it's story. Could use a good scrubbing, but I could see it used for a great mix of things from housing to a commercial strip to light industry/arts.

by Alan B. on Apr 5, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

1. The end of construction has meant traffic in the general lanes is better than people were used to for a few years
2. Some people still have difficulty paying a fee when they aren't certain it will save them time. But a bunch of people are using the lanes regularly, and as more people become aware of the benefit and get the passes I would expect usage will grow
3. Office space in Tysons is still growing. That alone will increase usage even if HOT lane share stays the same, and it will also mean more congestion on the general lanes (and on parallel roads) They may get business more slowly than they would like, but eventually this will be heavily used, IMO

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 9:47 am • linkreport

The other issue the HOT lanes do not account for is the fact that I think the biggest benefit to being able to use the lanes is being able to get off at the new exits in Tysons Corner (Westpark and Jones Branch), which, depending on where you are going make access to Tysons much easier. The HOT Lanes are set up such that interchanges south of Route 50 only allow you access to them going north and vice versa north of Route 50. There is no HOT Lanes Exit at Route 50, which is one of the biggest interchanges on the Virginia Beltway. So...I work in Merrifield right off 50 and if I want to shave a few minutes coming from Tysons, I would have to drive past Rt. 29, past Rt. 50 and to Gallows Road just to get off because neither of the previous roads have exits in that direction. Basically it saves no time. Likewise, no one can get on the HOT Lanes from Merrifield going north towards Tysons and Maryland from the Merrifield area, unless they drive south to Gallows Road. Merrifield/Fairview Park area is a huge employment center and residential area, much bigger than Gallows Road. I think this was a major oversight in the development of the HOT Lanes.

by xtr657 on Apr 5, 2013 9:53 am • linkreport

I can understand people initially objecting to increased parking rates...we usually object to ANY increase of ANYTHING. But it ends up being not so bad. I don't even know how much DC's parking rates are but I've used Parkmobile lately and might have spent all of 5 dollars to park near the capitol (2.5hours) as well as downtown near MetroCenter. *shrugs*

It makes sense to have DC's only public university as the St. E's anchor institution. Wonder what's up w/that.

Watching Gray made me think that it might not be a bad idea for St. Wells to sit this one out and launch a campaign after Gray's 2nd term end. He will slaughter Bowser and Wells can throw his support behind Gray to earn some good will among those whom he will need to win a city-wide election. I mean really, how does Bowser "explain" what the DC's slow progress looks like in clear microterms.

by HogWash on Apr 5, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity, after 495 was widened and construction was initially finished, traffic moved well. It was not surprising to any user who remembered that that traffic would move better after the construction was complete and not because of significant toll use.

It's good to see the Wilson Bridge project finally being completed with the Telegraph Road interchange opening.

by selxic on Apr 5, 2013 10:00 am • linkreport

Of course the HOT lanes also aren't worth using because there is no time benefit given to potential users and there is heavy enforcement.

by selxic on Apr 5, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

Hmm university innovation hub... I wonder if GWU or GU will throw in. Seems like both are getting pretty constrained in their current locations and my impression is they both have the $$ to foot the bill. They would probably need to partner with a school with a really strong tech background maybe MIT or Caltech etc. Can't really see any advantage in the location to Virginia Tech or Maryland.

by Alan B. on Apr 5, 2013 10:19 am • linkreport

And yes, the rent decrease story speaks directly to many important discussions on GGW. It may be too early now, but at some point someone may want to address whether this is confirmation of the way allowing more supply of density can address rents. I'm wondering if Yglesias will pick this up soon.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

We need multijurisdiction CCW. MD's passage of restrictive gun laws is a serious mistake. I plan to purchase an automatic weapon and large capacity clip outside the state prior to the law taking effect.

by Redline SOS on Apr 5, 2013 10:48 am • linkreport

Seriously, cops are all over the HOT lanes. I have seen improvements from the infrastructure enhancements at the Toll Road and 495 and the beltway seems to move a little better than I remember (I just started reusing it after a nearly 2 year hiatus) but I knew it would not work as envisioned because it just pushes the problem spots around such as the Legion Bridge issue.

by NikolasM on Apr 5, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

for people driving from Springfield, Burke, Annandale to Tysons how is the Legion Bridge an issue? Who thought that HOT lanes from Springfield to Tysons would materially impact people coming from Maryland?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

The biggest problem with the HOT lanes is that you have no idea what traffic is like on the beltway until you after you commit to the HOT lanes, unless you're entering at one of the endpoints. Thry need signs indicating time savings.

The other thing is that the HOT lanes were designed for a world of far more density at Tysons. That world is still a few years away.

That said, the HOT lanes are not a bad deal for taxpayers since private money paid for the bulk of construction costs.

by Falls Church on Apr 5, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

I don't think they want to be held to promises of time savings, which may not materialize as conditions change.

That said, people make route decisions all the time (including ones with differences in toll costs - do I take the NJ Tpke, or an alt, for example) without time guarantees. eventually people will on 495.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

The HOT lanes WILL get used on 95 by me. I don't even care what the cost is. If I know I can leave going south on a Friday in July, and make it from DC to exit 143 (35 miles) in 35 minutes, as opposed to the current 40-200 minutes, I would pay virtually any price, up to and including $50 one way for those 35 miles.

by Kyle-W on Apr 5, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

I support congestion pricing but it is a bit amusing to see people at Cato or Reason Foundation, Inc. continue to say that all we need to do is toll our highways and our surface transportation will be fine when the actual financial performance of these roads has fallen short. If I didn't know any better, this almost sounds like a Soviet-style transportation system.

Aid Plan for O.C. Tollway Unveiled
http://articles.latimes.com/2005/oct/14/local/me-tollway14

Greenville SC Southern Connector toller files for bankruptcy
http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/4808

San Diego County regional government to buy bankrupt toll road
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/07/san-diego-regional-government-to-purchase-bankrupt-state-route-125-toll-road.html

REFINANCING:Dulles Greenway to Restructure with Bond Offering
http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/2170

by 202_cyclist on Apr 5, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

So if you look at this list of the "Fortune 500" companies in the year 1812, and you scroll down past all the banks, what starts to turn up are turnpikes. Lots of turnpikes. For-profit roads (and bridges and canals) were some of the biggest businesses of the time. But there's a reason that changed - they all kept going bankrupt.

http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/r4_flsjut66g

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

HogWash:
"It makes sense to have DC's only public university as the St. E's anchor institution. Wonder what's up w/that."

Perhaps but I think that ship has sailed with the construction of the student center and the broader campus plan updates for the University of the District of Columbia. Ready, fire, aim approach to planning.

by 202_cyclist on Apr 5, 2013 11:39 am • linkreport

Regarding Saint Elizabeth's, the District could have sold its prime land right next to the Van Ness metro station in upper Northwest and used this to finance a new UDC campus at Saint Elizabeth's. This would have made Van Ness more vibrant and allowed more people to live next to the metro station, encouraged economic growth east of the Anacostia, and provided significant revenue to finance a new campus. Oops!

by 202_cyclist on Apr 5, 2013 11:44 am • linkreport

Re: The 495 Express Lanes.

The price is too high. I think it's clear that the operator isn't living up to the perceived deal that the lanes will be demand-tolled. There's a price floor of somewhere around $1.85 for the full length even when there's no traffic. Why would anyone pay $1.85 when the free lanes are just as fast. And during rush hour the price often jumps to >$4 even though there is spare capacity in the Express Lanes. The operator isn't living up to the bargain to price the lanes at the level that results in free-flowing traffic, rather it's a level below that.

I'm actually quite angry about the matter as I believe the public was sold on the idea as market-clearing lanes and what we got is revenue-maximizing (which isn't the same thing). Also, a recent Express Lanes advertisement in the Washington Post featured a commuter entering at the southern end at Springfield Interchange, exiting at Tysons, and paying only $0.50 during rush hour. That's an outright fraudulent advertisement. Never is the price anywhere near that low. I suspect if it was, there would be many more people using the Express Lanes and they would be at capacity.

by Joseph on Apr 5, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

The main problem with some toll roads is they over build the roadway and prices are set too high due to bond repayments

The Greenway and the ICC would be 2x2 instead of 3x3

If they want to get more throughput in the future they should decrease the lane and shoulder width.

http://www.uctc.net/access/41/access41_slowerfaster.shtml

by jcp on Apr 5, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

RE: Bankrupt toll roads

All it shows is that if you have one road that is tolled and right next to it there is a "free" (read: gov't subsidized) road that, duh, people are going to choose the free one.

It also shows that if we did toll all of our roads there would be an incentive for shorter travel and less travel, and therefore more compact use patterns and people taking transit.

I can't say it's a big surprise to me that plenty of these projects are unsuccessful; our land use patterns and resultant congestion today were completely driven by the massive overbuilding of free-to-use highway infrastructure.

by MLD on Apr 5, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

The HOT lanes are free this weekend: https://www.495expresslanes.com/

by Vinh An Nguyen on Apr 5, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

I don't know about you guys. I love the HOT lanes. I love knowing that I can get from Springfield to 66 or 267 or back with minimal disruption if needed. The fact that not a lot of other people are using them just keeps the price down which is fine by me. If I am not in a hurry I will sit in the normal lanes but under normal circumstances it is worth the $2-3 to save the time and aggravation. The HOT lanes also give me a good detour around 66 inside the Beltway which is usually a quagmire. I no longer have to leave Alexandria by 7:15 or after 9:00 to have an uncongested commute west.

For those of you who don't use the lanes, what difference does it make? It doesn't hurt anything - you are no worse off than you were before.

by movement on Apr 5, 2013 12:10 pm • linkreport

I don't think they want to be held to promises of time savings, which may not materialize as conditions change.

They could just display the time savings from a trusted third party like Google Maps.

For-profit roads (and bridges and canals) were some of the biggest businesses of the time. But there's a reason that changed - they all kept going bankrupt.

Yeah, kind of hard for private enterprise to compete when government gives away the same product for free. That said, the era of lots of new free government roads is likely coming to an end due to budget constraints and governments are actively seeking ways to make private investment in infrastructure a viable business model again.

The playing field may actually go beyond making it level to tilting it in favor of private enterprise, making these investments wildly profitable:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/us/20cncmeters.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

by Falls Church on Apr 5, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

- you are no worse off than you were before.

Didn't some tax money go into this? And did the toll road have to pay for the road? Was eminent domain used to acquire it? If so, then Virginia residents and taxpayers are worse off than before.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 12:35 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church

There is a very simple way to make private infrastructure and transit profitable. Raise the gas tax. The fact there is so little willingness to take this extremely simple step is appalling. There is certainly a tipping point where people alter decisions based on gas costs, and raising the federal tax a quarter gets us closer to that tipping point.

Regarding that Chicago example, that may be example #1 for the next 75 years of how NOT to privatize things. Chicago as a city is getting absolutely crushed by that deal, and the cash payments the city is having to make to cover street closings for parades and such are far outstripping their original expectations. That was a terrible terrible idea. At least now I know when I put $4 into a meter that DC gets the cash, and not JP Morgan.

by Kyle-W on Apr 5, 2013 12:36 pm • linkreport

I have no problem with congestion pricing and toll lanes, in fact I hope the HOT lanes are successful. The problem I have is with the outright hypocrisy of those who criticize Amtrak every opportunity they get as a Soviet Style-rail system that loses money and yet are silent when toll road after toll road goes bankrupt.

by 202_cyclist on Apr 5, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

Yeah, kind of hard for private enterprise to compete when government gives away the same product for free.

That wasn't the case in the 19th Century. The facilities - which often were granted a monopoly by the state - would go bankrupt and then be closed or allowed to fall into disrepair and so the government would have to come in and bail them out. The govt got tired of this so they started making all roads and bridges public.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

The idea of moving UDC to east of the river was floated several years ago, by Adran Fenty I believe. The blow-back was immediate and fierce. A lot of it was along the lines of "Why are you trying to push the public school out of Upper Northwest?" No matter how nice St. Elizabeths could be, it would still be seen as exile. I am sure that that is well remembered in the Mayor's office and won't be repeated; it may well be part of the reason for the expansion at Van Ness.

by DC20009 on Apr 5, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

"HOT lanes' cool reception: Not very many people are using the Beltway HOT lanes...Stewart Schwartz says designers midjudged (sic) demand for toll lanes"
-----

If the HOT lanes were crowded, there would be howls about "induced demand" from "people encouraged to drive".

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

by ceefer66 on Apr 5, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

I don't think too many Ward 3 residents would be upset (in fact I remember some opposition around the preliminary UDC campus plan meetings) if UDC relocated to another part of the city. I would also think that most of the students at UDC don't come from Ward 3 but elsewhere in the District. This would save them commuting time and costs, as well as spur development and jobs east of the river. This seems like a win-win-win proposal to me.

by 202_cyclist on Apr 5, 2013 12:49 pm • linkreport

"Didn't some tax money go into this? And did the toll road have to pay for the road? Was eminent domain used to acquire it? If so, then Virginia residents and taxpayers are worse off than before."

the tax money went to pay for improvements aside from the toll lanes - the resolution of several problematic entrance ramps, etc. Eminent domain, arguably, if its a true fair price, leaves everyone indifferent.

The main cost to va residents was the disruption to the regular lanes while the construction took place. The benefits are the consumer surplus for the HOT lane users, the reduction in congestion on the regular lanes, and the availability of the HOT lanes to express buses and car poolers. All of these categories are small now, with low utilization of the HOT lanes - but I sure hope we don't evaluate the Silver Line say, on its usage in the first few months of operation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

If the HOT lanes were crowded, there would be howls about "induced demand" from "people encouraged to drive".

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Pretty sure this is damned if you do, damned if you still do. If we pay a bunch of money to build infrastructure that generates a bunch of traffic with negative disbenefits rather than something better that is bad. Likewise, if we waste money building infrastructure nobody will use that is also bad.

by MLD on Apr 5, 2013 12:55 pm • linkreport

Who paid for the land?

Eminent domain does not leave everyone indifferent. Buying land at what one would willingly sell it does.

Virginia paid $409 million for this. If it flops then people are worse off.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

There is a very simple way to make private infrastructure and transit profitable. Raise the gas tax.

Raising the gas tax won't make *private* infrastructure investment more profitable but it will certainly create more funds for government investment in infrastructure. That said, when even the Obama administration is not proposing a significant increase in government infrastructure investment, we're a long way from that happening.

Regarding that Chicago example, that may be example #1 for the next 75 years of how NOT to privatize things.

Absolutely. Private investment in infrastructure needs to be profitable for it to happen but there's no need to make it as ridiculously profitable as Chicago made it. The level of profitability that utility companies like electricity have today would be a reasonable level of profitability for private transportation infrastructure.

The facilities - which often were granted a monopoly by the state - would go bankrupt and then be closed or allowed to fall into disrepair and so the government would have to come in and bail them out.

Why couldn't they just raise tolls to avoid going bankrupt? Lack of demand? Or were they not permitted to raise tolls? Part of what makes the Chicago parking privatization so wildly profitable is that they can raise parking rates by large amounts every year (and have done so).

by Falls Church on Apr 5, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

Why couldn't they just raise tolls to avoid going bankrupt? Lack of demand?

Lack of demand was part of it, as I recall (I'm going back to a college course I took oon this 20 years ago). If prices went up too much, a ferry would set up to compete with the bridge, or people could move by boat. So they were sensitive to price increases.

Also, I recall that crime was a real issue. The tollbooths that took in the most cash got robbed the most - creating an upper limit on how much one could make. So making roads free and putting them in the hands of the government "fixed" that.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 1:08 pm • linkreport

@David C.

Virginia mainly paid for the upgrade to the I-66/I-495 Interchange for the regular lanes and the auxiliary lane from I-66 to Route 7.

by jcp on Apr 5, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

$2 an hour is understandable in downtown DC, but kinda pricey for a suburb like Bethesda. Of course, it's been really tough to find street spaces there for some time anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.

More importantly, if they are going to close 2 lanes on Rockville Pike to car traffic, they might as well close all the lanes. Traffic already backs up even on the weekend. I'm not sure what problem this solves that increasing the number of Metro trains running wouldn't.

by Chris S. on Apr 5, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

"Who paid for the land?"

Transurban, though it may have flowed through VDOT

"Eminent domain does not leave everyone indifferent. Buying land at what one would willingly sell it does."

Thats what the property rights people go on about. Eh, sure that premium is not zero. Its not that big in this case, or youd have heard more squealing.

"Virginia paid $409 million for this. If it flops then people are worse off."

Once again, its $409 m for things like the I66 ramp which was needed anyway. Plus we got the road rebuilt, which needed to happen anyway.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

@Chris S

Downtown Bethesda is not really a suburb in the traditional sense. It is a huge destination in Montgomery County, and they have decided that the people circling are causing further congestion. Bethesda invested a ton of money in garages, and they are being underused while people circle for street spots. Street spots should be used for quick trips, while the garages should be used by dinner-goers.

When I take my wife to Bethesda, we often park on the street, but when this is implemented, we will certainly just pull into a nearby garage, and park there, leaving a street space for someone doing carryout or whatever. Seems like a positive development to me.

by Kyle-W on Apr 5, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

"Virginia paid $409 million for this. If it flops then people are worse off."

The things Virginia got (even if ridership is way below projections) are still worth well more than $409M. As other have mentioned -- rebuilt road surface, I66 ramp, upgrade for 495/66 interchange for regular lanes, reconstructed bridges over the beltway that include bike lanes, etc.

by Falls Church on Apr 5, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

The things Virginia got (even if ridership is way below projections) are still worth well more than $409M.

I'm unconvinced. Is there some independent evaluation of what these improvements are worth and what they would cost without the HOT lanes?

And didn't Virginia come up with 25% of the financing? That's a cost.

Its not that big in this case, or youd have heard more squealing.

Wasn't much of the land already owned by the state? So the squealing would've happened in the past right? And are you sure Transurban reimbursed Virginia for that land?

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

"For-profit roads (and bridges and canals) were some of the biggest businesses of the time. But there's a reason that changed - they all kept going bankrupt."

Because the railroads supplanted them. And then when airplanes (and publically funded highways) supplanted the railroads, the railroads all went bankrupt.

by Kolohe on Apr 5, 2013 2:38 pm • linkreport

Virginia's real windfall from the HOT lanes was a new Beltway. Sure, they created a PPP and are giving away some toll revenues, but the sparkling new highway from Springfield to the DTR would have easily cost +1 billion to rebuild.

The new facility should last 30-40 years; that section was rebuilt in the late 70s IIRC.

by Arrgh Street on Apr 5, 2013 2:52 pm • linkreport

"I'm unconvinced. Is there some independent evaluation of what these improvements are worth and what they would cost without the HOT lanes?"

Possibly in the EIS, I'm not sure.

BTW, FC forget to mention the new ramp going directly from the beltway to the I395 HOV lanes, which is also useful to non toll lane users.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

Because the railroads supplanted them.

In some cases that played a role, but not in many of them.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

Possibly in the EIS, I'm not sure.

And so I remain unconvinced.

by David C on Apr 5, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

Well now all the airlines are going bankrupt as well.

by drumz on Apr 5, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

they mostly went bankrupt cause they wildly overbuilt in response to farm price bubble, then couldnt make it through the panic of 1837. Happened to some early RRs as well, I think. private RRs went forward from their, but turnpikes and canals not so much, because RRs were the dominant mode.

When highways got going, we didnt make them private, A. Cause we believed they should be free to users B. Or charged only enough to pay off the debt and mtnce (most tolled facilities) or C. used the tolls to fund transit (ie ny's MTA)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 5, 2013 3:11 pm • linkreport

@Kyle-W _ "Bethesda invested a ton of money in garages, and they are being underused while people circle for street spots."

I would have to disagree strongly with this, unless you mean the one or two garages on the western edge of town where there are not so many businesses nearby.

The majority of the garages are packed during the daytime/evenings in my experience, especially the Bethesda Row garage. That place is a madhouse - only time I've seen gridlock inside a building.

by Chris S. on Apr 5, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

I wish everyone who wants to move UDC east of the river could hear Judge Pryor talk about the days when he, as an African American, was not allowed to travel west of 16th St. UDC in upper NW is a statement.

by Jabari Hinds on Apr 5, 2013 4:05 pm • linkreport

I'm unconvinced. Is there some independent evaluation of what these improvements are worth and what they would cost without the HOT lanes?

The estimate to rebuild MD's 41.7 miles of beltway is $3B which works out to $72M per mile. So, the value of just rebuilding 14 miles of beltway along the length of the HOT lanes is $1B. That's already well north of the $409M VA spent and then you have to add in the value of all the other improvements that were mentioned and the value of rebuilding all the bridges over the beltway which would need to be done eventually too.

$3B estimate for MD's portion of the beltway:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/beneath-the-surface-the-beltway-crumbles/2013/03/30/8963232a-8b51-11e2-9f54-f3fdd70acad2_story_2.html

by Falls Church on Apr 5, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

One thing that seems to have fallen off the table is the idea that anyone is carpooling in the HOT lanes. I can't find any numbers on how many are paying the toll versus how many are carpooling for free. I can't even find how many Ezpass Flex's have been sold for carpooling. You'd think that carpoolers would be the most reliable users, since they would use the HOT lanes whether or not the regular lanes were congested. I'd call it a win for the region if the new lanes led a lot more people to carpool, but that doesn't seem to be happening.

by Nova Hokie on Apr 6, 2013 4:25 am • linkreport

""It may also show that it takes only a minor intervention to remove enough cars from the main lanes to let them flow better." <-- This.

The investment should have been put into transit all along. I've been hearing about light rail between Tysons and Springfield since I was in high school (and I'm six years out of college now).

That, and fitting more cars onto a highway won't fix the traffic problems you'll still face at your destination.

by Omar on Apr 6, 2013 6:40 am • linkreport

Also I'm snickering a little bit from the other coast that Transurban didn't think to include time metrics in its signage … they do that for the free highways here in San Francisco (helps you decide whether to pull off the freeway and use BART rail instead).

Then again, I haven't seen any local bloggers talk about queue jumping lanes. BRT isn't getting built on a busy stretch of road here because—get this—there was too much congestion! That was a knee-slapper to read in the local paper. We need our own David Alpert.

by Omar on Apr 6, 2013 6:46 am • linkreport

The estimate to rebuild MD's 41.7 miles of beltway is $3B which works out to $72M per mile. So, the value of just rebuilding 14 miles of beltway along the length of the HOT lanes is $1B.

I'm confused. This project didn't rebuild the beltway did it? Or are you counting the HOT lanes themselves in the value. Virginia doesn't own those (not for like 75 years at least). I don't think we can count that in the benefits.

What is the value of all the things that VDOT would have built if there were no HOT lanes (or that improves driving without the HOT lane being involved - Maybe VDOT wouldn't have built it). And we have to discount them properly. Replacing a bridge today that would have been fine for 20 years means they destroyed a bridge with some value to replace it with one with more value. You have to subtract that lost value.

by David C on Apr 6, 2013 2:46 pm • linkreport

"I'm confused. This project didn't rebuild the beltway did it? "

Im not sure how much of the conventional lanes were rebuilt - I think the outer lanes at least are completely new. they repaved all of it. Plus they rebuilt every single bridge over the beltway - often with significant improvements (including adding sidewalks where they did not previously exist)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 6, 2013 6:57 pm • linkreport

@Nick: we won't get a final cost figure for the HOT lanes for decades. If the private company doesn't make enough money, our grandchildren have to pay them for their trouble.

by Mike on Apr 7, 2013 10:29 am • linkreport

HOT lanes were sales of public property to a private firm. Don;t use them until Transurban goes bankrupt and the property is returned to the state for ALL to use free of charge.

by Redline SOS on Apr 7, 2013 11:19 am • linkreport

@Redline SOS

Well I agree these were a bad project, oftentimes a selling of public property can be a terrific idea. See the Georgetown Heating Plant sale. This is going to be a terrific win for DC as a whole, and the Federal Government is getting 20 million as well.

by Kyle-W on Apr 8, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

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