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Construction on I-95 Express Lanes to Begin in Early August

The project is slated to cost $925 million.

Commuters driving along I-95 between Garrisonville Road in Stafford County and Edsall Road in Fairfax County will have an Express Lane option by the end of 2014. 

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced Tuesday that the construction of 29 miles of Express Lanes will start early next month. 

In a release, McDonnell said the project would cost $925 million and will be completed in partnership with private companies. 

The stretch of Express Lanes will be for vehicles with three or more passengers. Vehicles with fewer than to use the lanes, or they can ride the general purpose lanes for free, said the governor's office. 

The project will also bring additional commuter parking lots along I-95. 

"In 2012, there will be an additional 600 spaces at the Saratoga/EPG park and ride lot in Fairfax County and 700 spaces at the Telegraph Road-Old PRTC bus garage park and ride lot in Prince William County," said the release. 

The governor's office said that by end of 2014, Staffordboro Boulevard in Stafford County and Gordon Road in Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County would each have 1,000 parking spaces. In Prince William County, a new 1,000-space garage will be constructed along with the new  at Stonebridge Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge.

Greg Whirley, VDOT commissioner, worked with the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships to secure the agreement with 95 Express Lanes LLC, a joint venture of Transurban DRIVE and Fluor Enterprises, Inc., according to a release from the governor's office. 

"The agreement, signed under the Public-Private Transportation Act, allows VDOT to partner with 95 Express, which will make a substantial investment in the project and share in the financial risk of construction and operations," said the release.

The project will be financed by $854 million from 95 Express.

"This includes an anticipated TIFIA loan of $300 million, which is expected to be available in November 2012," said the release. "VDOT will provide $71 million in public funds, a lower amount than the original estimate of $97 million, due to lower-than-expected financing costs at closing.

Construction is expected to be completed by late 2014. The lanes will expand existing HOV lanes from two to three lanes for 14 miles between Prince William Parkway to vicinity of Edsall Road on I-395. 

“This is a historical day for transportation and the economy in Virginia,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell in a release. “In partnering with the private sector, VDOT is leveraging nearly $1 billion dollars in congestion relief for the heavily traveled Northern Virginia region. Virginia is taking bold action to move more people with fewer cars by giving them more transportation choices that will save time and money, and improve the environment.  The project will also support nearly 8,000 jobs over the construction period and stimulate $2 billion in economic activity.”

The governor's office further outlined the key components of construction as:

  • Extending nine miles of existing HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County, which alleviate one of the region’s worst traffic back ups
  • Making operational improvements to the existing two HOV lanes for six miles from Route 234 to Prince William Parkway 
  • Adding eight new or improved access points to and from HOV/HOT network at key interchanges
  • Expanding and adding commuter parking lots

Financial and tolling highlights:

  • Tolls will be collected electronically using E-ZPass, including the new E-ZPass 
  • HOV-3+, vanpools, motorcycles and buses travel free. Vehicles with one or two people will pay a toll to use the express lanes or ride the general purpose lanes for free. Tolls will vary based on real-time traffic conditions to manage the number of toll-paying customers who choose to enter the express lanes. Most customers are expected to pay to use express lanes only a couple of times a week when they need a faster trip, with a typical trip during rush hour costing between $5 and $6.
  • Project will fund a safety and enforcement program including crews to assist disabled vehicles, incident detection technology and more Virginia State Police. The program is expected to significantly reduce HOV violators.   

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katherine August 01, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Will it change my ability to use the HOV lane for free after 9 am?
Lauren Jost August 01, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Katherine, Per the company that's partnering on the project (95 Express Lanes LLC): "Unlike the existing HOV lanes, the new 95 Express Lanes will be in effect at all times including weekends. High occupancy vehicles (HOV-3+), motorcycles and transit will have toll-free access at all times; drivers with fewer than three occupants can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes on occasions when they need to get somewhere on time." Source: http://95expresslanes.com/faqs
katherine August 01, 2012 at 11:51 PM
So a private company will be given control of the existing HOV lane and begin to charge me to use the road? I find that amazing and hard to believe. This is good because that private company will add a lane and extend the current lanes a bit? That seems wrong somehow.
Jimmy J. August 02, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Just brilliant! It's already going to congest the HOV lanes & now you won't have free access to the lanes on the weekend unless you enter at Edsall Road. According to their FAQs, it appears that the new HOT lanes will also collect tolls during federal holidays, as there is no mention of any day(s) that you can use the lanes without paying a toll.
George Schwartz August 03, 2012 at 05:02 PM
A little know aspect of the 95 project is that VDOT allowed reduced lane widths and reduced shoulders. Governor Kaine, his Secretary of Transportation Pierce Homer and VDOT approved an arrangement whereby Virginia taxpayers will make up the difference in money between projected toll revenue for the private partner and the actual revenue if there is a shortfall. George Schwartz

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