WASHINGTON — Commuters can weigh in this week on Virginia’s plans to extend the 95 Express Lanes 10 miles south toward Fredericksburg and add a new exit from the lanes near Quantico over the next five years.
“They’re going to be looking at a range of improvements, such as access, entry and exit points, but at this point, they are very conceptual and we’re really just seeking comment from riders, people who use the facility every day,” Virginia Department of Transportation Fredericksburg District spokesman Kelly Hannon said.
The extension of the Express Lanes from Garrisonville Road to U.S. 17 in Stafford County would connect to new Rappahannock River bridges. There would be another entrance and exit for the Express Lanes at Exit 140 for Courthouse Road.
Farther north, at Exit 148 for Russell Road near the Prince William County-Stafford County line, VDOT is planning to add a new Express Lanes entrance and exit to the existing lanes that would make it easier to access Quantico.
A letter from VDOT Northern Virginia District Administrator Helen Cuervo to the regional Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board suggests the additional exit may be key to the project.
“This enhanced access will allow vehicles accessing the proposed 10-mile extension of the I-95 Express Lanes to have better access to Marine Base Quantico. Without providing this access, vehicle trips originating in Stafford County that travel to employment centers near the base would not have a choice to access the Marine Base Quantico via the I-95 Express Lanes system,” Cuervo wrote this month.
VDOT estimates the new interchange would cost $16.5 million.
Taken together, VDOT hopes the new lanes and exits could lead more people to carpool or take the bus to get the benefits of a faster trip without the need to pay a toll, which could lead to fewer cars clogging up the regular lanes.
After the informational meetings Tuesday night at Freedom High School in Woodbridge and Wednesday night at Stafford High School, VDOT expects to further study the project over the summer before public hearings this fall.
A contract could be awarded in fall 2018, construction could start in 2019, and the extension could open by 2022.
Separate work on a shorter extension of the lanes meant to ease the bottleneck at Garrisonville Road is already well underway. The two-mile southbound extension is due to open by the end of this year, with the northbound entrance scheduled to open by summer 2018.
“This would be additional extension of Express Lanes to pick up where that project’s leaving off and then carry it farther to the south in Stafford County … much closer to the Fredericksburg area,” Hannon said.
Funding for the additional extension is expected to come from a combination of already-awarded federal grants, state transportation funds and the private company that would build and operate the extension.
At the northern end of the corridor, the 395 HOV lanes are due to be converted to an extension of the Express Lanes by 2019.
Anyone who cannot make the informational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday can submit comments until April 3 via email to I95fredex@VDOT.Virginia.Gov (put I-95 Express Lanes Fredericksburg Extension Study in the subject line), or by mailing comments to VDOT Fredericksburg District, Attention: Mr. Krishna Potturi, 87 Deacon Rd., Fredericksburg, VA 22405.
For more information, on the plan go to VDOT’s website. The meetings are:
Tuesday, March 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Freedom High School
15201 Neabsco Mills Rd.
Woodbridge, Va. 22191
Wednesday, March 22 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Stafford High School
63 Stafford Indians Lane
Fredericksburg, Va. 22405