Alexandria residents petition Virginia to move Express Lanes ramp

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Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley,Metro and Traffic

Alexandria residents making a stink about a new highway ramp they say will bring pollution to their neighborhood got the ear of the state's top transportation official Friday.

The Concerned Citizens of Landmark made their case to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton, as well as Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and staffers from Rep. Jim Moran's office, saying the ramp near Edsall Road that is set to be built as the endpoint for the Interstate 95 Express Lanes would be hazardous to their health.

"What we're hoping to do is to clearly state the public health hazard that this project will create for 75,000 Alexandria residents," said Mary Hasty, an area resident and spokeswoman for the group.

The residents paid for a $60,000 traffic and pollution study of the new ramp planned near Edsall Road, and paid to fly in the study's author from Colorado for the meeting on Friday. The study said the ramp would bring gridlock to the neighborhood, and the idling cars would produce enough exhaust to violate federal benchmarks.

The group also brought in a doctor to tell Connaughton and the other leaders about the health effects of the pollution.

Hasty said they hoped to convince the state to conduct a more comprehensive study on pollutants the ramp would bring to the area, or to consider moving the ramp to Springfield or Seminary Road.

But while the lawmakers listened, they made no promises.

"They seemed to hear what we said and they did throw out some options, but they said, 'Oh well, it's already so far along, and we've already got the contract,' so they had some objections as well," Hasty said.

Connaughton did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Euille said Connaughton asked local leaders what they thought should be done.

"Our response was that options should be looked at," he said. "It's the state's project. But the secretary was looking for options and being receptive to options."

The ramp is set to be the end point for the Interstate 95 Express Lanes. The lanes were originally designed to end in Crystal City, but a 2009 lawsuit from Arlington County forced the state to end the lanes in Alexandria.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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