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A project submitted by the Arlington County government remains in contention for Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) funding, even as a number of other regional projects have been delayed for consideration due to sharp dropoffs in available funding.

As a result, the Arlington project – an HOV- and bus-only lane on Route 29 in Rosslyn during rush hour – is likely to receive the $710,000 in regional funds being sought to help with the overall project cost.

The proposal calls for carving out a designated lane for high-occupancy vehicles and buses in peak directions during rush hour. The proposal would benefit riders of the roughly 60 buses each day that use the stretch of Lee Highway (a name that, in these politically charged times, is subject to change).

The project is one of 11, totaling $17.2 million, that have been submitted by jurisdictions across the region for funding consideration as part of the NVTC’s “Commuter Choice” program, funded by tolls paid by drivers of vehicles using Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway.

But because of the sharp dropoff in roadway usage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting government-mandated economic lockdowns, funding available to support the projects has declined precipitously. In the spring, revenue was at  a mere 10 percent of anticipated levels, and while it has grown somewhat, it remains at only one-quarter of historic monthly levels.

As a result, NVTC staff have recommended that five of the proposed projects, totaling $13.7 million in funding requests, be deferred to a later round of funding because of the lack of funds to support them.

(None of those deferred projects directly impacts Arlington except for a proposed new bus service from Reston to Crystal City; Arlington officials earlier removed their request for $10 million to support a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station from the package, acknowledging that the funding simply was not available.)

The NVTC board is expected in October to ratify the staff proposal for funding the $3.5 million in projects in the first installment, including the Route 29 project as well as funding to support bus service from Haymarket to Rosslyn. The package then will be forwarded to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has the final say.

NVTC officials are accepting public comment on the projects through Sept. 21. For information, see the Website at www.novatransit.org.

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