$1 billion in Northern Va. road projects announced

WASHINGTON — The Commonwealth of Virginia and Transurban agreed Tuesday to four road projects in Northern Virginia which are expected to ease congestion in the region.

The projects, announced by Gov. Ralph Northam’s office in a statement Tuesday, include:

  • A 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes north to the American Legion Bridge. Two new Express Lanes will run in each direction of the Beltway (I-495) from the Dulles Access Road to the American Legion Bridge at the Maryland border. The governor’s office said the move would relieve “one of the worst bottlenecks in the region” and reduce neighborhood traffic in McLean from drivers cutting through. In Maryland, officials are separately considering a plan to add capacity on their side of the Beltway, including the Legion Bridge.
  • The addition of a reversible ramp connecting the existing 95 Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard, which will allow Express Lane drivers to exit onto Opitz Boulevard.
  • A southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane in Interstate 95 in Woodbridge that will connect the southbound Route 123 ramp to I-95 with the offramp at westbound Prince William Parkway.

Construction on those projects could begin next year.

The commonwealth and the company also finalized a proposal for a 10-mile extension of the I-95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg. Construction will begin later this year, with the opening set for the fall of 2022.

Northam’s office said in the statement that Transurban has committed more than $1 billion to the projects.

“My administration is committed to creating opportunity for Virginia families and businesses in every corner of the Commonwealth, and that requires having a safe, reliable transportation network,” Northam said in the statement. “I am pleased to announce these four projects that will bring significant improvements to I-495 and I-95, easing congestion, enhancing safety, and driving economic growth.”

State Sen. Jeremy McPike told WTOP that Transurban will be paying for three of the projects, while the state will pay for the Occoquan auxiliary lane from “project savings,” meaning that “the funding’s available now.”

No payment to Transurban will be required. Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine said Transurban “agreed that they would not seek compensation” for the Occoquan auxiliary lane. McPike said “we finally have a sort of truce between Transurban and the commonwealth, and we can finally proceed.”

Monica Backmon, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, said in a statement, “While all of the projects will reduce congestion, the 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes north to the American Legion Bridge and the construction of a new southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane on I-95 in Woodbridge, will directly impact two of the worst bottlenecks in the Commonwealth.

“We applaud the Governor’s office for these transportation investments which will impact Northern Virginians and businesses alike, and result in less time commuting and more time for residents to spend time with their families.”

“The Occoquan bottleneck is the worst traffic problem in Virginia and has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to represent Prince William County in 2015,” said Sen. Scott Surovell in a statement. “I am ecstatic that Governor Northam’s administration and Transurban were able to negotiate a way to expedite construction on this critical improvement. Everyone wins in this deal.”

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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