Northern Virginia road projects get $1 billion investment
Virginia and private partner Transurban will invest over $1 billion in four transportation projects in Northern Virginia, state officials announced Tuesday. The projects are designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity on Interstates 495 and 95.
“Creating opportunity for all Virginians no matter who they are or where they live depends on having a safe, reliable transportation network,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “People need good transportation — be it road, transit or other options — to get to work and businesses need it to move goods.”
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said the projects include a 2.5-mile extension of the express lanes of I-495 north to the American Legion Bridge and the Maryland border. The Capital Beltway Express Lanes Northern Extensions, or Project NEXT, will require no public funding from the state, Valentine said.
She said the project will address one of the “worst bottlenecks in the region” and reduce cut-through traffic in nearby McLean neighborhoods.
Valentine, who oversees the Virginia Department of Transportation, said Project NEXT will connect Virginia to Maryland by creating direct access to the American Legion Bridge, the George Washington Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road.
Officials also announced a new auxiliary lane that would seek to reduce bottleneck traffic on the Occoquan Bridge.
“The I-95 bottleneck at the Occoquan Bridge has been a source of personal frustration and time stuck in traffic—valuable time that could be spent with family,” Sen. Jeremy McPike of Prince William County said in a statement. “With funding now in place, VDOT will begin the design and construction that our community has sought for years.”
The Occoquan Auxiliary Lane will connect the southbound Route 123 ramp onto I-95 with the westbound off-ramp of Prince William Parkway.
Also announced was the addition of a new reversible ramp that would improve access to Potomac Mills and Sentara Virginia Medical Center. The ramp would connect existing I-95 express lanes directly to Opitz Boulevard.
Lastly, a plan was finalized to extend the I-95 express lanes in Fredericksburg — a 10-mile extension expected to increase the highway’s capacity by 66 percent during peak hours. The Fredericksburg Extension Project, or Fred Ex, was initially announced in January 2018. Construction will begin later this year and is expected to be finished by the fall of 2022.
In a statement, Transurban President Jennifer Aument spoke about her company’s long history working with Virginia to solve “major transportation challenges.”
“With expanded capacity and new connections to commuter routes and commercial centers,” Aument said, “we are committed to delivering transportation solutions that keep travelers moving faster and safer throughout Northern Virginia.”