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Live Blog: Ask the Traffic Experts

Thursday - 12/15/2011, 12:56pm  ET

Adam Tuss Bob Marbourg and Dr Gridlock (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)
From the unveiling of the ICC, to the BRAC move, to the continuing construction of the HOT lanes, it was a big year in traffic projects around the D.C. area. (WTOP)
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Ask The Traffic Experts

WTOP's Bob Marbourg and Adam Tuss, along with The Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock


WASHINGTON - From the unveiling of the ICC, to the BRAC move, to the continuing construction of the HOT lanes, it was a big year in traffic projects around the D.C. area.

Thursday, WTOP will host "Ask the Traffic Experts," with veteran WTOP Traffic Reporter Bob Marbourg, WTOP Sprawl and Crawl Reporter Adam Tuss and Robert Thomson, the Washington Post's Dr. Gridlock.

The show will address the region's major transportation and commuting issues, including HOT Lanes, the controversy over the Mark Center in Northern Virginia, and the Inter County Connector in Maryland.

How growing traffic congestion effects everyone

Bob Marbourg : People always tell me about how 'This is the worst traffic ever.' For each person, the transportation experience, it's very very personal."

Adam Tuss: The dirty little secret about congestion is that, in some respects its good. To have congestion means that people are going to jobs, that the economy is moving along.

D.C. has been ranked as the worst congestion in country, and it's for a reason. It's for a reason, there are a lot of jobs here, and a lot of people are going to be moving here. When you look at the big picture, we're going to have traffic for a long time."

Dr. Gridlock: Many of my readers say we should live closer to where we work. Other says "I have the ability to change jobs, do I have to move every time I change my job?"

BM: Even if you don't change jobs, your workplace has changed. It all may make economic sense, from a personal standpoint, it can be terribly disruptive.

10:11 a.m.: Why HOV lanes on 395 can't be like HOV lanes on I-66

BM: The whole idea of HOV lanes is to maximize the amount of people you can move. Unless you finesse the volume just right, then you will lose the ability to move individuals to where you need to go. When can look ahead to the HOT lanes and see how if it's too successful with carpools, how it may not be a money maker.

What happens when HOT lanes open?

BM: I think the people who are not in the HOT lanes are going to look across that jersey wall with a certain layer of resentment.

AT: Here's the encouraging thing, nothing is being taken away, lanes are being added. There's two new lanes that will be added between Springfield and just north of the Dulles Toll Road. IN effect, you are going to have what you had before plus two new lanes in each direction. If you have three or more people, you can use those lanes for free. The people have said people have to keep a minimum speed, and that's done by raising or lowering the toll.

DG: I think the HOT lanes folks figure they are not going to add or subtract from the overall amount of congest once the Beltway is in its new configuration. What they're telling you is that you will be able to get a more consistent ride.

You will not use these not lanes every day, you will use them when you have to get to that daycare appointment, when you have to get to the 9 am appointment at Tyson's.

10:23 a.m.: When will the HOT lanes open?

DG: Around the end of next year for the lanes to be open. However, we will be able to see some improvements in the lanes before that.

A new flyover ramp is going to open between eastbound I-66 and the Inner Loop of the Beltway. Drivers won't have to use that left hand exit, which is so problematic.

For example, If you are going to the Route 7 exit from the Beltway, this new flyover ramp is for you. That opens this weekend.

AT: Another interesting thing about this debate, these roads are the wave of the future everywhere. Toll roads are going to drive how we get around in the future. It's just the way things are going to be done.

DG: It's not just about the building of the roads, this is about managing the traffic as well. I think we will get to a point where we start to talk about doing that in existing lanes, not just new lanes.

10:28 p.m.: On parking issues in the District

BM: The parking restrictions in the District of Columbia are really outdated by about 20 or 30 years. The rush hours in no way correspond to the times during which parking in restricted on the major arteries.

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