Maryland’s plan to build Fairfax toll lanes is an unwelcome surprise to some Virginians

Midday traffic on the American Legion Bridge on June 14, 2022.
Midday traffic on the American Legion Bridge on June 14, 2022.(Bruce DePuyt/ Maryland Matters/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 12:14 PM EDT
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(Virginia Mercury) - Maryland’s plans to undertake major construction work along the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County aren’t sitting well with some Northern Virginia residents and elected leaders, who are questioning why another state is involved in transportation projects outside its borders.

The critics say key details of the projects have only come to light recently — and they claim they have been stymied in their efforts to get officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation and toll road operator Transurban to answer their questions in detail.

Officials from the two states held two town hall meetings last week — one at a high school in McLean, the other online. Although officials tried gamely to answer residents’ questions, many of the people who attended the sessions left feeling frustrated.

“Everybody is alarmed and everybody is pissed,” said Mei-Mei Venners, the owner of a McLean real estate firm, in an interview. “It’s got to do with expanding the [toll] lanes and trying to get this under the radar before somebody says stop.”

Transurban owns and operates more than 50 miles of variably-priced toll lanes throughout Northern Virginia and VDOT has expanded its existing contract with the firm to extend toll lanes closer to the American Legion Bridge, a project the agency calls 495NEXT.

Maryland’s proposed work in Fairfax County essentially picks up where 495Next ends, at a point south of the George Washington Memorial Parkway/I-495 interchange. If its plan is approved by the federal government, MDOT would build four variably-priced toll lanes in Virginia and it would completely re-do the Parkway/Beltway interchange — all as part of an ambitious proposal unveiled by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in 2017.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)

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