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 project, The 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/.