DALE CITY, Va. – After 10 years of discussion, planning and politics, Interstate 95 commuters will soon get a whole different driving experience.
Ground was officially broken Tuesday morning on the High Occupancy Toll lane project that will eventually run 29 miles from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road on I-395 where the existing HOV lanes will remain intact.
The HOT lanes are a partnership between Flour-Transurban, a private company that is investing 75 percent of the $1 billion to build the project, and will keep most of the toll revenue.
Some site work has already started, and trees and shrubs are being removed from the median right of way.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was on hand for the groundbreaking, says he is confident that the project will eventually relieve congestion along I-95.
“People will pay a little bit extra for the improved quality of life, ” he says. “We’re doing the very best we can with the limited resources.”
The HOT lanes will connect to the Beltway Express Lanes, which are also tolled. Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton estimates the average cost for the congestion related tolls will be about $5 one way for the 29 miles. Cars with three people inside will still ride for free. Buses will not be charged to use the lanes.
During the two-year construction period there will be changes along the existing HOV lanes. This includes a narrowing and shifting of lanes as barriers are installed. Most of the work will be done at night or on weekends and the HOV lanes will remain open during morning and afternoon rush hours.
The HOV lanes will be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. on weekends.
McDonnell says the construction project will employ 12,643 people both in Virginia and elsewhere.