Commuters might see less congestion on the Capital Beltway in Virginia — if they can wait a few more years.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said Tuesday it has formally inked a deal with toll road developer and operator Transurban to move forward with the expansion of Interstate 495.
Transurban has selected Connecticut-based Lane Construction to design and build the extension of the I-495 Express toll lanes up to the American Legion Bridge — a contract worth $441 million.
The contractor’s work on the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension, also referred to as 495 NEXT, will start in 2022 and finish in 2025, according to a Lane Construction news release.
The 495 NEXT project will extend existing I-495 Express Lanes by 2.5 miles, starting at Old Dominion Drive and running north to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, adding two high-occupancy travel lanes in each direction.
“The project, when completed, will help provide more consistent, reliable, and predictable travel times for commuters and freight movement in and around the region,” Lane Construction said in a statement.
Transurban previously worked with Lane Construction on the 395 Express Lanes project.
In July, the 495 NEXT project passed a federal review after being described as a timesaver for drivers.
Last week, VDOT hosted an informational meeting on the expansion and other changes coming to I-495 that range from new bridges to sidewall improvements.
The changes are being coordinated with other improvements to the region’s roadways such as Maryland’s future express lanes on I-495, “as part of a larger effort to enhance planned multimodal mobility and connectivity in the area,” Lane Construction said.
VDOT put the price tag of the project at $600 million. The agency said it is projected to cut travel times for express lane users by 24 minutes, reduce crashes by 20% and generate an estimated 6,300 jobs and $880 million in economic impact.
Besides extending lanes, VDOT said the 495 NEXT project includes the following improvements:
- Funding the new American Legion Bridge bus service that connects Virginia and Maryland, which is “projected to move more than 170,000 riders each year and remove 4.7 million passenger miles from the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,650 metric tons each year.”
- Adding four miles of bike and pedestrian connections to expand access to areas like the Potomac River.
- Making seven bridges more pedestrian-friendly with sidewalks, bike lanes and crossings.
- Replacing nine noise walls and constructing a new one near the George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange.
- Building stormwater management facilities to limit the road’s environmental impact.
More information on the project is available online.