- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Your editorial “Bilking commuters on the Beltway” (Opinion, June 15) downplays the role of the public-private partnership on high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and the benefits of the project. The editorial notes the private-equity contribution to the project of nearly $350 million, but it does not acknowledge the significant construction risk and the fact that more than $1.2 billion of debt is being assumed by the private sector and, consequently, shifted away from taxpayers.

The editorial also overlooks the fact that existing Beltway bridges are nearly 50 years old and soon will need to be replaced. The Beltway HOT lane project rebuilds and improves all bridges and most interchanges along a 14-mile stretch. In addition, bicycle and pedestrian paths will be added to every new bridge crossing over the Beltway. Perhaps most importantly, when combined with the Interstate-95/Interstate 395 HOT lanes, the Beltway system will provide a seamless 50-plus-mile bus rapid-transit corridor for commuters south of Fredericksburg.

HOT lanes alone will not solve all of Northern Virginia’s congestion problems. No one claims they will. However, they do provide many tangible benefits.

BOB CHASE

Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance

McLean

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