HOT Lanes Have Tree Lovers Singing Beltway Blues

Tree lines disappear as construction begins

Now that construction has started on the high-occupancy toll lanes on the Capital Beltway, the realization of the effect it will have on the environment has set in.

Four HOT lanes from the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road will allow drivers to get where they're going a bit faster.  But now motorists are realizing the toll it's taking on the scenic tree lines that line the Beltway -- especially since the foliage this fall was so colorful.

"We've had leaves, we've had a buffer," Norma Heck, of the North Springfield neighborhood that borders the southwestern corner of the Inner Loop between the Springfield Mixing Bowl and Braddock Road, told the Washington Post. "We've had our compromises. When they put eight lanes in, we got our sound wall and a buffer. But this is crossing a line. It's going to look terrible, and for what? So people driving in from Woodbridge and Fredericksburg can get to Tysons Corner 20 minutes faster?"

Why are the trees being cut down? The Post reported that state officials agreed to take less private property in the construction than planned.  That meant the trees, which were a buffer between the homes and the Beltway, had to go.

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