Virginia could extend Beltway express lanes from Springfield to National Harbor

Virginia is studying extending express lanes in the 11 mile stretch from the Interstate 95/I-395 interchange in Springfield along the southern part of the Beltway, across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, into Maryland, near National Harbor.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said the study will consider the environmental effects of adding one or two express lanes, along what would be the final stretch of Beltway to add the additional lanes.

Currently, 12 miles of express lanes run from Springfield to near Tysons. In the near future, construction will begin on the three-mile extension from near the Dulles Toll Road to near the American Legion Bridge and the Maryland border.

The proposed lanes, known as high occupancy toll lanes — or HOT Lanes — enable vehicles with three or more occupants to ride for free. And, solo drivers or drivers with a single passenger can choose to pay a variable toll, based on keeping traffic moving at speed.

“The express lanes are expected to provide additional travel choices, and to provide a key component to the overall transportation network in the region,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, in a statement, noting the goal of providing transit options to reaching regional activity centers.

The options include adding lanes of train or other transit in each direction across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge — the massive bridge overhaul opened to road traffic in 2008.

The new study will be marshaled by VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, with other federal, state and local agencies.

While Maryland has considered adding express lanes on the entire Beltway, the current plans are limited to from the American Legion Bridge up Interstate 270 to Gaithersburg.

A map of the area being studied is below.

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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