Express Lanes to End Just Outside City; Residents Concerned about Impact

The I-95 express lanes, currently under construction, will end with a ramp near Landmark Mall.

The I-95 express lanes now under construction are meant to relieve traffic congestion, similar to the idea behind the Beltway Express Lanes, but some Alexandria residents are worried traffic will get worse just southwest of the city.

The express lanes will begin in Stafford County and end just north of Edsall Road, where they will merge with I-395 in Farifax County. At that point, a ramp will be built to carry motorists from the express lanes to the regular highway.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, said VDOT's Megaprojects spokesman Steven Titunik. In a news release back in August, Gov. Bob McDonnell said the project would cost $925 million and will be completed in partnership with private companies.

In addition to the express lanes project, there will also be an auxiliary lane constructed for traffic to get on at Duke Street heading north, Titunik explained.

"Right now, that ramp that comes down at Landmark Mall ends and you have to merge into four lanes of traffic," he said. "So this new ramp will run all the way to Seminary Road, so there will be a new lane in affect that will provide a new capacity that will help during those strong morning hours."

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member Jeff McKay, who represents the affected area, said the I-95 express lanes project is "half-baked" and not as well planned as the previous Beltway express lanes project.

Some Fairfax County residents are speaking out about their concerns with the projectThe Washington Post reported. Those concerns include both congestion and environmental impact from the project.

"You can't see improvement without going through the pains of construction," McKay said, addressing Fairfax County residents' concerns. "That doesn't mean I'm head over heels about this project. I'm worried about the congestion that it will create. There are a lot of complications, and the fact that it ends in Fairfax County concerns me."

While explaining the project and expectations, Titunik said you simply can't pave the whole world. A combination of improvements and efforts — including transit options, express lanes and carpooling — will help alleviate traffic in the Northern Virginia and D.C. metro area.

More information about the I-95 lanes project is available at www.vamegaprojects.com/about-megaprojects/i-95-hov-hot-lanes and at http://www.95expresslanes.com/

Don Buch January 11, 2013 at 01:33 PM
We incessantly read and hear about the need for transit to address the ever-increasing congestion in northern Virginia. Yet our Commonwealth government seems to continually focus on road projects – widening I-395, a new I-395 HOV ramp at Seminary Road, the HOT lanes (which are SOV lanes for those prepared to pay and upon whom repayment of the $1B cost is based), widening Route 1 (leaving the median to be used for transit someday!), etc. And now a renewed effort from Richmond to build yet more roads. Many in this community continue to seek a clear, logical explanation of the value of the HOT lanes as currently being implemented. The $1B cost (plus interest, plus profit to a foreign entity) is being paid for by incenting SOV traffic (HOVs don’t pay any tolls) so, yet again, we are not focusing on transit. In fact, the project went so far as to specifically “drop plans for commuter busses.” The (north-bound) HOT lanes are now going to terminate just south of the Duke Street exit. Thus, at that point, all the SOV traffic (in the HOT lanes) will be forced to merge into the general purpose lanes of I-395 – the most congested road in one of the most congested cities in the country. What’s the logic of that?
Don Buch January 11, 2013 at 01:34 PM
The vast majority of the HOT lane vehicles will be headed for the Pentagon, Crystal City or DC. Why do the 29 miles of HOT lanes dump these vehicles 6 or 8 or 10 miles south of where they want to go - apparently because Arlington doesn’t want HOT lanes through their city? So everyone else suffers? What will be the cost in terms of wasted fuel, wasted man-hours, increased emissions, increased accidents, frayed tempers, etc. – along the entirety of I-395? Rumor is the HOV lanes are now intended to become HOT lanes 24/7. Thus those SOVs that currently wait to have the HOV restrictions lifted will no longer have any motivation to do so and, unless they want to pay the toll, they will now bring additional congestion to the general purpose lanes. This seems counter-productive. It should be noted that VDOT’s own Environmental Assessment states that “Traffic forecasts for 2035 show…the level of service will deteriorate to ‘F’ throughout most of the corridor”. So we have a 24 year plan that results in the general purpose lanes of our major transportation corridor designed (!) to operate at materially failing levels of service? Some find that acceptable? Yet again one might ask “Where’s the plan for mass transit?”


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