Construction on the new express lanes on I-95 has begun and residents of Northern Virginia will be affected by the project. The express lanes will begin in Stafford County and end between Edsall Road and Duke Street on I-395 in Farifax County, where a ramp will be built to carry motorists from the express lanes to the regular roads. That ramp is expected to end right outside of Alexandria.
The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, said VDOT's mega projects 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.
The project as a whole stretches 29 miles, Titunik explained. The express lanes are expected to provide more options and alleviate traffic and congestion.
"In general, it will certainly add more capacity and more options for motorists," Titunik explained. "In the southbound area, we're extending the HOV lanes or express lanes nine miles from where they end in Dumfries down to Garrisonville, so that alone will provide more through traffic that's headed south of Dumfries onto the express lanes. So that southbound heavy traffic on 95 south every evening will get some relief."
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."
Supervisor Jeff McKay, said the I-95 express lanes project is "half-baked" and not as well planned as the previous Beltway express lanes project.
McKay explained that the Beltway project emphasized carpooling and using transit, while the I-95 express lanes offers the option of paying a certain amount of money to ride in the express lanes without having three or more passengers.
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.