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Posted on February 3, 2020 at 2:25 PM by Bob Lazaro
Did you know there is nearly a combined 110,000 cars traveling through the gates of Ft. Belvoir, Marine Corps Base-Quantico (MCBQ), and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) daily? Roughly 86% of the cars traveling through the gates at Ft. Belvoir and MCBQ are Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOVs)? And, that number jumps to an astounding 96% for JBM-HH? In fact, it is estimated that a quarter of the vehicles on I-95/395 every day are commuting to one of the military installations.
To the consternation of those driving on I-95/395 during rush hour, this is probably not news.Those of us who drive in this region have seen study after study telling us what we already know: Traffic here is frustrating. It frequently feels there is no end to the unrelenting traffic, no hope, no immediate or comprehensive fix, and definitely no perfect solution. INRIX, a private company focusing on traffic and transportation, named this area the sixth worst for traffic congestion for a metropolitan area in the country, only following Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Miami. To say nothing of the fact that the stretch of southbound I-95 from DC to U.S. 17 in Stafford was identified as the “worst single traffic hotspot” in the country.
Nevertheless, there is hope. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission is working alongside many other local organizations and three of the larger military installations in the NoVA region (Ft. Belvoir, MCBQ, and JBM-HH) to address this issue and reduce the number of SOVs traveling to the military bases. While these installations are some of the largest employers in their respective jurisdictions, there is an absence of transportation alternatives. Due to security and location, “transportation deserts” have been created making it difficult for those not driving to access these locations.
NVRC visits these installations weekly to provide outreach and educate commuters about alternative transportation options. We are creating a toolkit for commuters that includes: transit options such as: buses, VRE trains, and Metro; working with the tenant agencies to create “e-slugging” to arrange for carpools; using the Waze App to form car and vanpools; and encouraging walking and biking, working to get Uber and Lyft and Biking apps on base. We are working directly with the base tenant agencies to encourage and promote transportation alternatives and provide individualized information. We are presenting at town halls, appearing at new employee orientations, and making information available through social media. It is our goal to get a considerable number of people traveling in their SOVs to the various military installations down to a number that begins to alleviate the traffic along these heavily traveled corridors.
However, this process takes time and patience, in order to persuade individuals to change their habit from driving alone, the process is one-on-one contact. NVRC is educating people on the Express Lanes for carpooling and how the Federal Transit Subsidy works in order to get them out of their SOVs. For some, this will be a welcome change as driving in the National Capitol Region (NCR) can be stressful and overwhelming, thus getting out of their SOVs will be a simple decision. For others, there may be concerns about safety and comfort, so this kind of change is more gradual and may require a gradual attempt at trying options a few times per week.
We all drive the same roads, and we suffer from the same congestion. We are all highly motivated to encourage everyone to make the change to alternative transportation, making the commute for all of us a little less hopeless in the NCR.
The link for the article from INRIX:
Funding for this project is provided through a grant from the I-395/95 Commuter Choice Program to provide education and outreach to the military.