The last access points along the 95 Express Lanes Fredericksburg Extension are scheduled to open early next month, according to Transurban North America, which operates the express lanes.
The access points are expected to open at 10 p.m. Dec. 7 and will be ready for use during the northbound rush hour Dec. 8, the company said in a news release.
Drivers will be able to get to the 95 Express Lanes using a reversible ramp that can be accessed from Courthouse Road in Stafford County. They’ll also be accessible using a northbound exit from and southbound entrance to the I-95 general purpose lanes near Marine Corps Base Quantico.
For northbound traffic entering from Route 17 and Route 3, access will also be available at the southern terminus, according to Transurban.
“With these new access points opening at Courthouse Road and Russell Road up near Quantico, we’re expecting even more of that Express Lanes benefit to come to the people in Fredericksburg and Stafford County,” said Jacqueline Woodbridge, Transurban’s corporate communications manager.
With the direct access to Russell Road near the base, Woodbridge said, “we’re providing those 20,000 workers a way to get in in the morning and out in the afternoon, smoothly and easily directly onto those Express Lanes.”
The 10-mile extension of the Express Lanes opened for end-to-end travel Aug. 17, and Woodbridge said they’ve enabled 750,000 trips as of Nov. 1. More than 16% of those are people who are riding for free by capitalizing on the HOV-3+ toll exemption.
In their first months, the Express Lanes have also helped commuters save time, Woodbridge said. Drivers save an average of about 35 minutes by using the lanes to commute from D.C. to Fredericksburg, and the Express option has eased traffic on the general purpose lanes, too. Drivers who use those lanes are saving about 20 minutes on the same trip, she said.
“We’re already seeing, with the 10-mile extension, a great travel-time impact that people can get home to their families, spend time with their loved ones at the end of the day,” Woodbridge said.
It may take some time for drivers to get used to the new traffic patterns, Woodbridge said.
“We all need to pay extra attention when something is new,” she said.
Drivers who are preparing to use the Express Lanes should have an E-ZPass transponder in their cars, she said, and it should be changed to flex mode so the trip is free if taking advantage of the HOV-3+ benefit.
Feedback on the long-awaited project has been positive, Woodbridge said.
“We’ve really received some overwhelmingly positive feedback just in terms of time savings,” Woodbridge said. “People are using it to commute, but they’re also using it to go see friends and family, and run errands and make sure that they can get places on time.”
The project, a $670 million public-private partnership, had been in the works since 2018, The Associated Press reported.