Expect even bigger backups than usual this weekend on part of Interstate 95 in Virginia’s Fredericksburg area as the northbound traffic is narrowed to just one lane Saturday evening through Sunday morning.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is warning northbound drivers to avoid I-95 for miles leading up to the work zone at Exit 133 from around 4 p.m. Saturday until about 10 a.m. Sunday.
Lanes are scheduled to close one at a time until about 8:30 p.m., then reopen one at a time late Sunday morning.
“You’ll have major delays that will extend back as far as, probably, to Massaponax,” VDOT Project Engineer Robert Ridgell said.
If there are any issues with weather, the closure would be postponed to next weekend.
“Our advice would be to avoid the general Fredericksburg area on I-95 this weekend and to use alternate routes if you’re proceeding to the north,” Ridgell said.
For drivers traveling long-distance between Richmond and the D.C. area, or points beyond, one alternative is to take U.S. 301 at Exit 104. Drivers traveling shorter distances or in other directions should plan to get off before Exit 126 and could even consider taking Interstate 64 west to other northbound routes including U.S. 15 or U.S. 29.
No unusual delays are expected for southbound drivers on I-95, since the work only closes northbound lanes, but there could be significant spillover onto alternate routes like U.S. Route 1 that usually cannot handle all the extra traffic.
The construction closures are planned in order to shift traffic across temporary lanes in the median of the highway onto a new bridge over U.S. 17.
The new bridge already in place will eventually be used by southbound traffic when permanent traffic patterns are implemented, but for now, they will carry northbound drivers while the northbound bridge over U.S. 17 is being replaced.
The current northbound bridge has been struck numerous times by trucks and has other maintenance issues.
When the total project is complete, in addition to the replaced northbound bridge, there will be two new southbound bridges over U.S. 17.
“The southbound bridge that has been a problem will also be replaced later in this project,” Ridgell said.
Traffic shifts during that bridge replacement will require much less disruption since the project already includes connections for southbound traffic to use the new bridge already in place, Ridgell said.
In the end, one of the new three-lane southbound bridges will be for local traffic while the other will be for through traffic headed beyond Virginia Route 3. The new lanes setup a connection to the 95 Express Lanes extension that will end just north of Exit 133 and will use a new bridge over the Rappahannock River.
Separate construction to add a new northbound bridge and to create northbound through and local lanes over the river is on a bit of a later schedule because that project was initially canceled due to funding concerns. A construction contract could be awarded this spring.
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