Concerned Residents of Landmark--previously known as Concerned Residents of Overlook--is a grassroots community movement of residents that has quickly expanded to include over a dozen neighborhoods in the Landmark/Alexandria area. The Overlook Foundation, which represents 443 homes, has resolved to support the efforts of the Concerned Residents of Landmark, LLC, both financially and publicly as have numerous other Homeowners Associations throughout the Landmark area. We are extremely concerned about the HOT lanes (High Occupancy Toll) highway ramp that the VA Department of Transportation (VDOT) plans to build adjacent to our communities.
Because VDOT failed to fulfill its obligation to the public and to the law, we as private citizens retained the same team of traffic and air quality experts that helped win the Arlington County case to conduct studies on the impact the ramp will have to our communities.
The Issues Under the original plan, the 29-miles of HOT lanes starting in Stafford County were to end in Crystal City. Strong opposition from Arlington led VDOT to select the new endpoint to be at an as-yet unbuilt ramp--to be called Turkeycock Run--just south of the Duke Street exit on 395N. 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 Seminary Road, the Pentagon, Crystal City, or Washington, DC.
Under VDOT's revised plans, however, ALL HOT lane traffic must exit at the Turkeycock ramp next to our neighborhoods. In spite of this major design change, VDOT--intent on keeping on its building schedule that had been delayed by the Arlington County case--ignored its clear obligation to study all the potential impacts the ramp could have in selecting Turkeycock as the new terminus for the HOT lanes project.
VDOT conducted no localized analysis to determine the environmental impact specifically to the nearby communities. When confronted with this claim, VDOT points to a number of studies to justify its lack of diligence; however, each is regional in scope; not one analyzes the specific ramifications of the ramp specifically to our communities. The studies have just been completed, and the findings are frightening. If this project goes through as planned, the ramp—and the large volume of additional traffic it will bring—will result in unacceptable levels of pollution, significant risks to public health, greater traffic congestion on 395N and secondary roads, harm to the local wetlands, and reduced quality of life for thousands of local residents.
We are indignant that:
VDOT has shirked its moral and 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 failed to do ANY local analysis of the impact of the ramp on the dozens of heavily populated communities in the Landmark area near the proposed building site, as clearly required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
VDOT failed to conduct a thorough analysis of alternative sites--as required by NEPA--in order to assess the risks versus benefits of each option, thereby selecting the most appropriate site for the project.
VDOT would disregard the health of thousands of local residents in order to keep on its building schedule.
For specific details on the potential impact to public health, traffic congestion on 395N, and harm to the wetlands, please click the appropriate links above.