Surrounded by elected officials, transportation engineers, and dignitaries, Governor Bob McDonnell held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday to begin construction of the I-95 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia.
The project will build 29 miles of express lanes on I-95 from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Fairfax County, and will connect the I-95 Express Lanes to the I-495 Express Lanes currently under construction to provide a seamless network of new lanes to reduce congestion, encourage carpooling, and providing public transportation options never before available.
“For the first time, commuters will have transportation choices they never had before when traveling the I-95 corridor, said Governor McDonnell. “This innovative public-private partnership will result in express lanes for carpoolers, sluggers and buses, while at the same time providing new transportation choices for all motorists to reach their destinations faster.”
Governor McDonnell was joined by Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia Congressmen Rob Wittman and Gerry Connolly, House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell, the chairs of the Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties boards of supervisors, and numerous other state and local officials.
When completed, there will be two new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-95, extending nine miles from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road. North of Dumfries, existing I-95 HOV lanes will be improved for six miles from Route 234 to Prince William County Parkway. North of the parkway, I-95 HOV lanes will be expanded from two to three lanes for 14 miles to Edsall Road as well as connect to the soon-to-be-completed 495 Express Lanes. The project also includes expanding and adding commuter parking lots. The project is expected to open to traffic in early 2015.
Free for HOV-3
Vehicles with three or more people will be able to ride the express lanes for free. Vehicles with one to two people can ride the express lanes for a variable toll or travel in the general purpose lanes for free. Tolls will be electronically collected using E-ZPass, eliminating the need for toll booths.
“I-95 Express Lanes will provide needed added capacity to help reduce traffic congestion,” said Connaughton. “The expanded HOV options include first-time HOV access in Stafford County and a direct link to the new Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and into Tysons Corner. The 495 and I-95 Express Lanes combined will create a region-wide, reliable pathway for carpoolers and buses, connecting major Virginia employment centers and military sites.”
The project is being delivered by a public-private partnership between VDOT and 95 Express Lanes LLC (a joint venture between Transurban DRIVe and Fluor Enterprises, Inc.). This allows the commonwealth to leverage private-sector resources to build the nearly $1 billion project. The private sector is providing $854 million in funding while VDOT’s contribution is $71 million. VDOT will maintain ownership of I-95 and oversee 95 Express’ activities.
The project will also have significant economic benefits, including:
- Construction will contribute $1.54 billion to the state’s economy (its Gross State product)
- New personal earnings of $464 million that will accrue to the benefit of workers residing in Virginia
- Direct and indirect spending will support more than 12,600 jobs over the construction period
- The benefits will be particularly realized in the communities along I-95, with nearly 2,500 jobs supported in Fairfax County, 2,600 jobs in Prince William County and nearly 900 in Stafford County
“With construction beginning today, VDOT urges motorists to pay extra attention as they are traveling through the I-95 corridor,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. “You will see a lot of construction activity, including traffic shifts, lane closures and tree clearing along the median. VDOT is committed to keeping the public informed of construction activity and impacts, and will do everything it can to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible during construction. When the project is finished, this region will have a top-notch transportation facility that will ease congestion and advance the use of carpooling, vanpooling and transit.”
What to expect
During construction motorists can expect:
- Existing HOV lanes will be narrowed and shifted with construction barriers installed for workers to resurface pavement, install new signage and tolling structures.
- HOV lane shoulders will be narrowed with emergency pulloffs located approximately every mile.
- Field offices and equipment staging areas will be setup along the 29-mile corridor to support construction.
- Nightly HOV lane closures are expected for the next two years.
- There will be no closures on I-95/395 general purpose lanes or HOV lanes during rush hour. In general expect 10 to 15 minutes of additional traffic delays through the construction zone during lane closures.
- Trees will be cleared from the median to expand the existing roadway south of Dumfries and along the sides of the highway to build new sound walls.
- Construction of nine new bridges will get under way, including four flyover ramps adding new and improved access to and from the 95 Express Lanes