SPRINGFIELD, Va. – The summer driving season could bring new headaches for travelers along Interstate 95 in Virginia.
Construction of the Interstate 95 Express Lanes will pick up again after Memorial Day weekend. But the biggest headaches will not affect commuters during rush hour, when no construction is scheduled, but in the midday hours, at night and on weekends.
“The HOV (lanes) in Virginia from pretty much the D.C. line south are shut down at night. There are lane closures in the morning and afternoon. And then we come back in the evening and shut more down,” says Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Titunik.
Titunik says the biggest hazard to motorists will be construction vehicles entering the highway from the center median requiring drivers to keep their eyes open and to slow down.
Much of the work is done in the highway median where the new lanes are being added south of Dumfries, Va. But the project will include construction work on the existing High Occupancy Vehicle lanes where flyovers, signs and gantries are being added to convert them into toll lanes.
Some of this is already visible to motorists, and traffic backups have been growing south of Dumfries as the new lanes take shape.
Here is a more detailed look at the planned closures and changes being made over the next few months when local traffic will mix with summer vacationers along I-95:
Daytime lane closures during non-peak travel times.
Possible extended closures of existing HOV lanes, during overnight hours and on weekends.
Multiple lane closures during overnight hours, including intermittent traffic stoppages.
Complete closures on I-95 (one direction at a time) and detours of all traffic to U.S. Route 1 during overnight hours to accommodate steel girder lifts, which cannot be done with live traffic underneath.
Limited shoulder access.
Increased heavy truck traffic entering and exiting the work zones along the median of I-95.
All 29 miles of the new express lanes that will start in Stafford County and run north to Interstate 395 are slated to open by the end of 2014.
Similar to the 495 Express Lanes, the new lanes along the I-95 corridor will be tolled. High occupancy vehicles with the proper toll transponder will be able to travel the lanes for free. Tolls will change based on traffic volume.