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Lane adjustments could ease Virginia traffic congestion

In this file photo, traffic heads south in the HOV lanes on Interstate 395 in Arlington County. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — Virginia transportation officials have outlined plans to extend express lanes on interstate highways throughout northern Virginia, highlighting north-south extensions of high-occupancy toll lanes on Interstate 95 and Interstate 395.

On I-395, the current HOV lanes will be converted to HOT E-ZPass lanes between Duke Street and the Pentagon. Several public hearings will be held over the coming months. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring and will include adding a third express lane.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said most of the work will take place in the existing right of way. The project is scheduled for completion by summer 2019.

Concurrent with the extension of the express lanes, improvements are also in the works for the outdated Duke Street clover leaves and the southbound mainline highway between Duke Street and Edsall Road, a notorious bottleneck where four lanes drop to three.

“With this project, we’re really trying to take care of several things that have been choke points along this corridor, Eads Street being one,” VDOT commissioner Charles Kilpatrick said.

Near Eads Street, Kilpatrick said the future geometry of the express lane highway is still being sorted out, including at the facility’s northern end where the HOV highway becomes a dual highway near the Pentagon.

“Part of what we’re working to do is create some logic in terms of how you’d transition from the reversible facility to those independent lanes,” Kilpatrick said.

Looking to address congestion at the southern end of the 95 Express Lanes, VDOT — along with TransUrban, the operator of the facility — plans to extend the lanes 2.2 miles south beyond Route 610 in Stafford County by summer 2018.

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