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VDOT advances new HOV/HOT lane project

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The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has advanced plans for a project to relieve traffic congestion along I-95 and the Capital Beltway.

It will cost an estimated $1 billon and will create 29 miles of HOV/HOT lanes on I-95 from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road on I-395 in Fairfax County. It will also include:

• Constructing two reversible HOV/HOT lanes for nine miles from Route 610/Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Route 234 in Dumfires, where the existing HOV lanes begin.

• Widening the existing HOV lanes from two lanes to three lanes for 14 miles from the Prince William Parkway to approximately two miles north of the Springfield Interchange near Edsall Road.

• Making improvements to the existing two HOV lanes for six miles from Route 234 to Prince William Parkway.

• Adding new access points in the areas of Garrisonville Road, Joplin Road, Prince William Parkway, Fairfax County Parkway, Fronconia-Springfield Parkway, and I-495 near Edsall Road.

The goal is to link the I-95 HOV lanes to new HOV/HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway, creating a network that spans 40 miles and provides direct HOV and transit services to major Virginia-based employment centers including Tysons Corner, Merrifield, Fort Belvoir and Quantico, VDOT representatives said in a statement.

The project will not include the six miles of HOV/HOT lanes on I-395 in Alexandria or Arlington County or upgrades at Shirlington and Eads Street in Arlington County that were initially proposed because of a lawsuit filed by Arlington County.

The suit alleges that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the commonwealth failed to meet necessary requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Air Act before FHWA approved a Categorical Exclusion for the project. The Categorical Exclusion would have allowed the HOT lanes project to move forward without the full environmental and public health analysis and public review required by federal law.


“In essence, it determined that the project’s impacts are not enough to warrant a full environmental and public health assessment,” Arlington County representatives said in a statement.

The project is expected to receive a majority of its funding and financing from the private section. The HOV/HOT lanes will keep traffic moving by using dynamic tolling that will adjust tolls based on real-time traffic conditions, video technology to identify accidents, a series of electronic signs to communicate with drivers and state troopers to ensure enforcement.

“Typical trip during rush will be $5-6,” Joan Morris, public affairs manager for VDOT said. “Most HOT lanes customers likely only use hot lanes a couple of times a week when they need a faster or more predictable trip and really need to be somewhere on time.”

Construction is expected to support more than 8,000 local jobs and could begin as early as 2012. It is projected to take three years to complete. Construction of the 14-mile project on I-495 that started in July 2008 is more than 50 percent complete and will open to traffic by 2013.

Summary: The Virginia Department of Transportation has advanced plans for a $1 billon project that hopes to relieve traffic congestion along I-95 and the Capital Beltway.


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