Would toll lanes improve commutes on south side of Capital Beltway?

Virginia is considering extending the Express Lanes by 11 miles, from where they currently end in Springfield, through Alexandria, over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, to the Route 210 interchange in Maryland.

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s I-495 Southside Express Lanes Study, which began last year, is contemplating a variety of options to deal with typically heavy weekday traffic. According to VDOT, the heaviest traveled segment is between U.S. Route 1 in Alexandria and Interstate 295 at the Wilson Bridge.

When the Wilson Bridge was rebuilt in the early 2000s, space was preserved on the bridge decks for future projects.

Among the study’s potential configurations across the bridge are two express lanes in each direction or one lane for rapid bus or Metrorail if the system were extended to the National Harbor area.

Two public meetings are being held this week: Tuesday, a virtual public meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with details on how to attend available on VDOT’s website.

Wednesday, an in-person meeting will be held at Oxon Hill High School from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Since the Beltway also travels through Maryland, VDOT is coordinating the study with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, as well as the Federal Highway Administration.

According to VDOT’s timeline, a decision on whether or not to build the lanes will come in late 2024.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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