Bill could lead to I-95 improvements for some regular backups

WASHINGTON — With plans already in the works to extend the Interstate 95 Express Lanes about two miles south to ease regular congestion through Stafford, a bill in the House of Delegates would direct the Virginia Department of Transportation to consider a further extension, or other improvements, for commuters even farther south.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Mark Cole, would direct VDOT to work with regional planning groups to study improvements south of the Express Lanes toward Fredericksburg.

“I think it’s important to the region. There hasn’t been any real comprehensive study done on 95 in decades, and this is something that needs to be done,” says Cole,  R-Fredericksburg.

Originally, the bill specifically directed VDOT to negotiate the extension of the HOV or toll lanes south to Route 17. However, the latest version of the bill that instead focuses on a study of options now has VDOT’s approval.

“The point is to get VDOT to make I-95, especially the southern portion from North Stafford to Spotsylvania, a priority,” Cole tells WTOP.

A subcommittee unanimously advanced the replacement bill Thursday.

When environmental studies were done ahead of the construction of the Express Lanes, they showed potential exits all the way down to Massaponax. That construction was not included in the final deal.

The McAuliffe administration has announced plans to extend the Express Lanes about two miles south of their current end point, and to extend them north up 395 to the D.C. line.

“The extension … will help some, but it’s only a couple of miles,” Cole says.

“It needs to go all the way down into the heart of Spotsylvania in order to really deal with the issue.”

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