Drivers on Interstate 495 will likely see congestion ease up in Northern Virginia — but not before years of Express Lane construction on the three-mile stretch of the road that ends near the banks of the Potomac.
The Northern Extension from the Dulles Toll Road, or NEXT project, will add two express toll lanes in each direction from the Dulles Toll Road to the George Washington Parkway. They will also add a shared use path for pedestrians and bikes parallel to the stretch that will be separated by a sound wall.
“It has many, many goals: to reduce congestion, provide additional travel choices, improve travel reliability, enhance safety and move more people through the corridor,” said VDOT Northern Virginia’s Abraham Lerner during a public information meeting Wednesday.
The transportation agency cites rush hour traffic on the interstate between the American Legion Bridge and Tysons Corner, as well as gridlock on side streets, as the reason for the upgrade.
Other than the addition of four express lanes, the I-495 will see numerous updates, from new interchanges and bridges to sidewall improvements.
“In terms of some of the project elements, we will be improving existing interchanges. With the construction of the project, we’re going to be upgrading some of the acceleration and deceleration lanes and even some of the geometric elements of those interchanges. Because we’re widening the roadway, we will be replacing a number of bridges throughout the roadway segments,” Lerner said.
VDOT will replace the Georgetown Pike bridge over I-495, widening the bridge span and adding pedestrian and bike paths with access to the nearby Scott’s Run Nature Preserve. That bridge will also see improved entrance and exit ramps to reduce traffic.
Crews will also replace existing noise walls and add new walls as needed.
In July, the project received final approval following federal review. According to documents from VDOT, the project will cost around $500 million.