Sen. Warner Asks DDOT, Capitol Crossing Development for I 395 Traffic Impact...

Sen. Warner Asks DDOT, Capitol Crossing Development for I 395 Traffic Impact Analysis

~ Warner: Lack of collaboration “significant disservice and disruption” to Virginia commuters ~

WASHINGTON – December 23, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today asked the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the developer of the planned Capitol Crossing project to provide information on the impacts of planned highway and ramp restrictions on the 90,000 vehicles using the Third Street Tunnel along Interstate 395 each day. District officials and the Federal Highway Administration recently rejected the builder’s proposal to completely close a section of the interstate for up to 18 months during the construction of Capitol Crossing, and current plans call for restrictions on 395 traffic flows during overnight and weekend hours.

In letters today to DDOT and developer Property Group Partners, Sen. Warner expressed concerns about proposed ramp and lane closures required to facilitate construction, questioned the lack of coordination with regional and Virginia transportation agencies, and requested details and a briefing on the traffic impact analysis conducted in support of the planned overnight and weekend closures impacting I395.

“The developer’s failure to contact any Virginia transportation planners, and its last-minute decision to brief Virginia elected officials less three weeks before construction is scheduled to begin, defies this region’s efforts to work in a collaborative way,” Sen. Warner said. “I want those who are leading this project to demonstrate they conducted appropriate due diligence on every possible alternative to disruption of one of the most highly-traveled and easily congested corridors in the region.”

The texts of the two letters are below:

December 22, 2014

Matthew Brown

Director

District Department of Transportation

55 M Street SE, Suite 400

Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Brown:

Recent news reports have drawn attention to your proposal to fully close portions of Interstate 395 (I-395) in order to speed construction of the $1.5 billion Capitol Crossing project in downtown Washington, D.C. I applaud the decision to withdraw the proposal, given the massive congestion problems it would have created for the estimated 90,000 daily users of I-395. However, what has received less attention is that current construction plans, scheduled to begin less than three weeks from now, could also have significant traffic implications for the region. I write to express my concerns about the lack of cooperation and coordination with regional partners on this project, and to request specific data related to delays the project will create for Virginia commuters who rely on this critical corridor.

In recent correspondence with you, the Property Group Partners development team notes that current construction plans could result in traffic delays with half mile back-ups and the potential for an increase in accidents. As you know, a half mile back-up in the I-395 Tunnel could have significant repercussions across the region, potentially snarling traffic all the way into Virginia. Studies also indicate roughly 75 percent of travelers using this corridor are traveling to or from Virginia and Maryland rather than traveling within D.C. Taken as a whole, these assertions indicate we should expect significant traffic disruptions as a result of the project, and that Virginia and Maryland commuters will bear the brunt of those construction delays.

I respectfully request that you provide information on the following subjects to my office as soon as possible:

All traffic analysis and modeling indicating the impact on I-395 traffic from construction-related delays, particularly how any construction-related delays will impact travel to and from Virginia.
The extent and nature of project sponsors’ outreach to regional partners to coordinate a collaborative response to potential traffic problems, including the Washington Council of Governments, Maryland DOT, VDOT, and elected officials representing the National Capital Region.
Beyond your stated goal of limiting construction activity to nights and weekends, please provide information on any additional measures that may be considered to minimize construction and congestion delays during peak travel hours on I-395, including any additional measures not currently included in your plans.

As a general matter, I support efforts where the public and private sectors can work together on economic revitalization projects and I believe Capitol Crossing has the potential to be such a project. The purpose of this letter is to ensure that all affected parties are provided necessary information about the project’s potential impacts and to receive assurances that every effort has been made to minimize traffic delays during construction. Those of us who have the privilege of representing the National Capitol Region bear a special responsibility to collaborate and coordinate across jurisdictional boundaries. I would appreciate that you respond as soon as possible so that we can work together as a region to better address our transportation challenges.

Sincerely,

MARK R. WARNER

United States Senate

December 22, 2014

Robert Braunohler

Property Group Partners

1101 New York Avenue NW, Suite 909

Washington, DC 20005-4213

Dear Mr. Braunohler:

Recent news reports have drawn attention to your proposal to fully close portions of Interstate 395 (I-395) in order to speed construction of the $1.5 billion Capitol Crossing project in downtown Washington, D.C. I applaud the decision to withdraw the proposal, given the massive congestion problems it would have created for the estimated 90,000 daily users of I-395. However, what has received less attention is that your current construction plans, scheduled to begin less than three weeks from now, could also have significant traffic implications for the region. I write to express my concerns about your lack of cooperation and coordination with regional partners on this project, and to request specific data related to delays the project will create for Virginia commuters who rely on this critical corridor.

In recent correspondence with the D.C. Department of Transportation, you note that current construction plans could result in traffic delays with half mile back-ups and the potential for an increase in accidents. As you may know, a half mile back-up in the I-395 Tunnel could have significant repercussions across the region, potentially snarling traffic all the way into Virginia. You also note that your own studies indicate roughly 75 percent of travelers using this corridor are traveling to or from Virginia and Maryland rather than traveling within D.C. Taken as a whole, your assertions indicate we should expect significant traffic disruptions as a result of the project, and that Virginia and Maryland commuters will bear the brunt of those construction delays.

The National Capital Region has more than its share of traffic problems, and we attempt to address those problems as a region, with cooperation from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. It is my understanding that as early as May of this year, you were encouraged by District Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton to reach out to Virginia and Maryland congressional representatives to provide background on the project. Your failure to contact any Virginia officials – including the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) as far as we can determine – during this process runs counter to our collaborative regional approach, and is a significant disservice to the thousands of Virginians whose daily commutes will be disrupted by the construction.

I respectfully request that you provide information on the following subjects to my office as soon as possible:

All traffic analysis and modeling indicating the impact on I-395 traffic from construction-related delays, particularly how any construction-related delays will impact travel to and from Virginia. Your recent statements and correspondence indicate that this impact could be “significant,” yet, to date, you have not provided supporting data upon request.
The extent and nature of your outreach to regional partners to coordinate a collaborative response to potential traffic problems, including the Washington Council of Governments, Maryland DOT, VDOT, and elected officials representing the National Capital Region.
Beyond your stated goal of limiting construction activity to nights and weekends, please provide information on any additional measures that may be considered to minimize construction and congestion delays during peak travel hours on I-395, including any additional measures not currently included in your plans.

As a general matter, I support efforts where the public and private sectors can work together on economic revitalization projects and I believe Capitol Crossing has the potential to be such a project. The purpose of this letter is to ensure that all affected parties are provided necessary information about the project’s potential impacts and to receive assurances that every effort has been made to minimize traffic delays during construction. Those of us who have the privilege of representing the National Capitol Region bear a special responsibility to collaborate and coordinate across jurisdictional boundaries. I would appreciate that you respond as soon as possible so that we can work together as a region to better address our transportation challenges.

Sincerely,

MARK R. WARNER

United States Senate

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