PRESS RELEASE: Bias in VDOT 495 Southside Study

Coalition for Smarter Growth
For Immediate Release: Oct 5, 2023
Contact: Stewart Schwartz, 703-599-6437

VDOT 495 Southside Study is Inherently Flawed by Bias and Failure to Include a Comprehensive Metrorail/Land Use/Demand Mgmt Alternative

VDOT is studying 495 from the Springfield Interchange and across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to MD210. “VDOT’s study is inherently biased because they determine their own conclusion even before doing detailed study. By defining the Purpose to be “extend the express toll lanes,” they are intentionally foreclosing other options,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth’s (CSG) detailed comment letter can be found here.

The City of Alexandria has filed a letter with strong concerns similar to those raised by CSG (attached) and Prince George’s County is reportedly very concerned about the increased traffic being dumped into their county and the failure to include Metrorail as long promised. VDOT has extended their public comment period until 5 pm on Tuesday, Oct 10th.

“VDOT is also refusing to advance study of a comprehensive, integrated Metrorail/transit-oriented development/demand management alternative. Even if they did, their biased Purpose statement is designed to reject any alternative other than express toll lanes,” continued Schwartz.

“Metrorail was promised to the region when the final agreement was reached on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the bridge was designed to handle the weight of Metrorail. Moreover, WMATA is currently studying the option of a Blue Line loop across the bridge, but VDOT is not proposing to advance this alternative,” said Schwartz. 

“VDOT is also not recognizing the impact of induced demand — the increase in driving from the additional capacity, and particularly the increased traffic the toll lanes will generate on connecting roads like Route 1, Telegraph, and Van Dorn,” said Bill Pugh, CSG’s Senior Policy Fellow.

“We are calling on VDOT to go back to the drawing board and restart its study with a more objective purpose such as — ‘to move more people through the corridor and provide alternatives to sitting in congestion,’ and to fairly include comprehensive, integrated transit, transit-oriented development, and demand management alternatives including Metrorail,” concluded Schwartz.


The Coalition for Smarter Growth’s mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.