Concerned Residents of Landmark (CROL) is a grassroots movement that includes members from over a dozen neighborhoods in the Landmark/Alexandria area. Numerous Homeowners Associations and private residents throughout the Landmark area and beyond have resolved to support the efforts of the Concerned Residents of Landmark financially and/or publicly.
We are extremely concerned about the spike in air pollution that will be caused by the I-95/I-395 Express Lanes ramp being built next to our communities. Professional, independent analysis reveals that this ramp--which will be the terminus (endpoint) of the I-95/395 express lanes--will cause massive traffic congestion and consequently unacceptable levels of pollution.
What We Want Our original request was merely that the VA Department of Transportation (VDOT) delay the ramp until it completed comprehensive analysis of the impact its project will have on local communities. The requirement for such analysis is unambiguously delineated in numerous federal laws designed to protect public health. Because VDOT refused to fulfill its legal requirement to ensure the project caused no harm to the public, CROL privately funded an air quality impact analysis that revealed that this project will adversely affect the health of 40,000-50,000 area residents. CROL has met with senior VDOT officials as well as VA Secretary of Transportation Connaughton regarding our scientifically backed concerns. VDOT's response was to ignore our science, dismiss our request, and speed up construction of the terminus ramp.
In the face of VDOT's intransigence, CROL has recently changed tact. We are now working with State legislators to designate funding for air quality monitoring once the ramp is opened to traffic. We believe such monitoring will reveal unacceptable levels of pollution that will demand mitigation in order to protect public health.
Background on the Issues Under the original plan, the 29-miles of express lanes starting in Stafford County were to end in Crystal City. Strong opposition from Arlington led VDOT to select the new endpoint to be ramp at Turkeycock Run, a highly populated area on 395N just south of the Duke Street. The location is directly next to an expansive network of neighborhoods, federally protected wetlands, businesses, and a wide range of playgrounds, walking paths, and other outdoor recreational facilities.
Although the Turkeycock ramp had always been part of the project's design, it was originally to be an auxiliary ramp with very light projected usage since the vast majority of northbound morning rush hour traffic would not exit there but rather continue to the Pentagon, Crystal City, or Washington, DC.
Under VDOT's revised plans, however, ALL express lane traffic must exit at the Turkeycock ramp next to our neighborhoods. In spite of this major design change, VDOT--intent on keeping to its building schedule that had been delayed by the Arlington County case--ignored its legal obligation to study all the potential impacts the ramp could have in selecting Turkeycock as the new terminus for the express lanes project.
VDOT failed to conduct the legally required localized analysis to determine the environmental impact specifically on the nearby communities. When confronted with this claim, VDOT points to a number of studies to justify its lack of diligence; however, all of these studies are regional in scope; not one analyzes the ramifications of the ramp specifically to our communities as is required by numerous federal laws and regulations.
In response to VDOT's negligence, CROL commissioned an independent air quality study that was completed December 2012, and the findings are frightening. The study, conducted by a nationally recognized firm, revealed that the ramp—and the large volume of additional traffic it will bring—will result in unacceptable levels of pollution, significant impact on public health, greater traffic congestion on 395N and secondary roads, and a reduced quality of life for tens of thousands of local residents.
We are indignant that:
VDOT has shirked its clear legal duty to ensure its planned actions cause no harm to surrounding environment.
In its rush to build, VDOT arbitrarily and without careful analysis selected the Turkeycock Run location, not because it was the best site, but because it was convenient and VDOT wanted to make up for time lost fighting the Arlington case.
Despite misleading statements to the contrary, VDOT ignored federal law and failed to conduct ANY local analysis of the impact the ramp would have on residents of the most heavily populated area along the entire 29-mile project.
VDOT failed to conduct a thorough analysis of alternative sites--as required by federal law--in order to assess the risks versus benefits of each option, thereby selecting the most appropriate site for the project.
VDOT has disregarded the health of 80,000 or more local residents in order to keep to its construction schedule.
For specific details on the potential impact to public health and to traffic congestion on 395N, please click the appropriate links above.