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Letter: Omission As a Good News

To the Editor:

The omission of additional Metrorail from I-66 planning is good news [Editorial: “HOT-Lanes and No Metro for I-66?”, Connection July 3-9, 2013]. Metro to Dulles will cost Fairfax County taxpayers plenty. Extending it beyond Vienna would be costly and the return on investment is unknown. I carpooled on I-66 for eight years. The problem is single-occupant hybrids that apparently get great mileage because they come without passenger seats. Why can’t hybrid snobs carpool and do their fair share to reduce congestion? HOV lanes are meant to reduce the number of cars, not reward those rich and smug enough to own a hybrid. There are also cars with DC and MD license plates heading east on I-66 at 6:30 a.m. These drivers live in Fairfax but retain out of state plates to avoid paying their share of Virginia’s car tax.

Ms. Kimm advocates extending Metro without saying to where, “this route could be a logical extension of the Metro Orange Line past Vienna … ” The tunnel between Rosslyn and D.C. will be at capacity when the pricey Silver Line to Dulles opens. Extending the Orange Line would complicate tunnel throughout. Extending and maintaining Metrorail on I-66 would be expensive. The rush-hour fare from L’Enfant to Vienna is $5.50. More troubling is the breezy remainder of her sentence, “and VRE is also operating in the area.” That’s akin to saying Fairfax is near Baltimore. Is she so unaware of the location of VRE tracks and stations? VRE already runs to the Manassas Regional Airport southeast of Manassas. Extending VRE only encourages more commuters from Warrenton and Culpepper. The closest point that VRE approaches I-66 is greater than 3 miles and that’s at the Bull Run boundary of Fairfax County where there’s no station. Conversely, Bus Rapid Transit offers a low cost and quick solution that will get single drivers off I-66. Ms. Kimm writes, “the 495 Express Lanes have not operated long enough to be fairly evaluated,” but she goes on to deplore HOT lanes for I-66. Then, she notes, “There are significant benefits to the 495 Express Lanes project” and lists them. If she can’t make up her mind, better to write nothing. Even more telling is her failure to comment on why the rightmost lanes of I-66 are closed outside of rush hour or why the speed limit on I-66 is only 55 east of Lee Highway; freeway speed limits are 65 in California even in areas as densely populated as Northern Virginia.

Michael Shumaker

Fairfax