WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

Alexandria Neighborhood: VDOT Ramp Will 'Ruin' Quality Of Life

Play associated audio
Mary Hasty, left, and Sue Okubo near the I-395 highway in their Overlook neighborhood. The two women are leading a charge against a planned ramp from the new I-95 express lanes. 
Martin Di Caro
Mary Hasty, left, and Sue Okubo near the I-395 highway in their Overlook neighborhood. The two women are leading a charge against a planned ramp from the new I-95 express lanes. 

Residents of a northern Virginia neighborhood say they now have more ammunition to fight the Virginia Department of Transportation as it builds a controversial highway ramp near their homes.

Members of Concerned Residents of Overlook, an upscale community adjacent to Interstate-395 in Alexandria, pleaded with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night to support their request that VDOT suspend construction of the ramp, which is the planned northern end of the future Interstate-95 Express Lanes. 

Two Overlook neighbors, Sue Okubo and Mary Hasty, hired traffic and environmental analysts to conduct studies that they says show the construction of a highway ramp near their homes will ruin their quality of life.

"VDOT has usurped its responsibility. It has provided only a regional analysis of the impact of pollutants and traffic congestion," Okubo told the board Tuesday. The Overlook group claims VDOT failed to adequately study noise and air quality impacts that will result when traffic exits the new express lanes and backs up before merging onto I-395 or local roads. 

"That’s going to cause a concentration of pollutants that well exceeds EPA standards for safety for humans," Hasty said. Concerned Residents of Overlook has hired Shrader & Associates, a national law firm that has litigated cases involving plaintiffs who claimed they were harmed by toxic chemicals and dangerous products.

The I-95 Express lanes are 30 miles of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes extending from the Edsall Road area in Fairfax County to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County. The $1 billion public-private project is scheduled for completion in December 2014. VDOT has denied it failed to adequately study the environmental impacts on the 95 Express Lanes project.

"We went through the federal requirements and developed an environmental assessment which includes analysis for both noise and air quality," said said John Lynch, VDOT's regional transportation director for Virginia mega projects. "The bottom line is those studies met all the federal requirements and it was reviewed by both the Federal Highway Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. We wouldn't have gotten approval to move forward with this project if it didn't meet those requirements."

Added Lynch: "It would be very difficult to make a change at this point having gone through a lot of the studies and approvals at the state, regional, and federal levels."

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

GOP Debate: Scalia's Vacancy; Trump Puts Jeb On The Defense

Republicans let loose on each other in last night's South Carolina debate. Rachel Martin asks NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson about it.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.