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VIDEO: Ground Broken on I-95 HOT Lanes Project

The public-private project will start in early August.

To Governor Bob McDonnell, the expansion of high occupancy toll lanes from Fairfax County to Stafford County on Interstate 95 in Virginia is a way to bring quality of life benefits to residents. 

"It's not just traffic and congestion relief that we're here about, it's about getting small businesses to be more productive, it's about  parents spending more time with their kids and tourists coming to Virginia in bigger ways," said McDonnell of the nearly $1 billion I-95 HOT lanes project. 

McDonnell, with several local, federal and state leaders, officially broke ground on the Interstate 95 HOT lanes project Tuesday morning in Dale City. 

"As Attorney General and Governor, I think I am maybe the largest frequent flyer up and down 95," said McDonnell. "So for those of you who have sat in traffic, I feel your pain." 

"I think we've been talking about this for about eight years," said McDonnell of the project.

McDonnell said the project would add capacity and congestion relief and travel options. Buses and public transportation will be able to use the HOT lanes for free, McDonnell said.

"Think beyond asphalt," said McDonnell. "This is more than that."

Both McDonnell and Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said that they know about the issues with traffic on I-95 firsthand. The congestion problem can start at the Occoquan River and can go as far south as the Dale City rest area, both said. 

McDonnell said the project will bring 2,500 jobs to Fairfax County, 2,600 jobs to Prince William County and 900 jobs to Stafford County.

The project will stretch from Edsall Road in Fairfax County to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.

Construction will begin in early August. Tuesday morning's groundbreaking signaled the ceremonial beginning of the construction process. The existing HOV lanes will be narrowed and shifted to the east and construction barriers will be installed for the workers.

Nearly 100 acres of trees will be cleared from the median of I-95 to expand the existing roadway south of Dumfries along the sides of the highway for new sound walls, said the Virginia Department of Transportation. 

The work schedule is expected to be day and night shifts from Monday through Friday and most weekends. 

No closures on I-95/395 general purpose lanes or high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour, VDOT said. But, during the night, expect full HOV system closures every night from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. and on most weekends, VDOT said.

The project is divided into four geographic segments along the 29-mile construction corridor. In all, the project will bring nine new bridges, three bridge widenings, new gantries, electronic tolling equipment, traffic monitoring equipment, new lanes on the I-95/395 footprint, new or updated highway drainage, 60,000 linear feet of new noise barrier and new Express Lane signage. 

“We have worked diligently with the state and the private sector to help bring to light a project that provides our businesses with greater access to the Washington, DC market and our residents with greater commuting options along I-95 and I-495,” said Corey A. Stewart, Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors in a release. “We have found a solution that will reduce commute times, increase slugging opportunities and minimize the cost to the taxpayers.” 

"We want it delivered by 2014," McDonnell said to Fluor-Transurban—the design/builder of the 95 Express Lanes—at Tuesday's press conference. 

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Jason Atkinson August 09, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I think you are missing the point that a major factor in promoting carpooling (especially as it relates to politics) is improving the impact on the environment (ie - fuel consumption). Hybrids achieve this at least as effective, likely more effectively, than carpooling does. It is not all about traffic reduction, even if that is the most important part to most of us, to politicians they are probably almost equally important as they provide 2 feathers in their caps for future campaigning.
Marcia Wheatley August 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I'm not missing the point at all. There are thousands of hybrid owners now who can not use the HOV system since the car was bought after 2007 so if they really wanted to make an impact than change the exemption or do away with it. BTW, I own an hybrid but I continue to pick up riders because I believe it is a car pool lane.
Debra August 14, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I totally agree w/Marcia W. I also believe that Jason A. is not getting the point! Again, I ask . . . . . where do the "So called Hot Lane" drivers go once they have gotten to the Edsall road vicinity ?? do they merge in with the "Original HOV-3" drivers, causing congestion and a night mere on HOV-3 lanes, or do they merge in with the the regular/non HOV traffic and cause a nightmere for those drivers?? Pretty soon, HOV lanes will be identical to the regular lanes! And it won't be called HOV or HOT Lanes it will be referred to as a "Hot Mess"!
Jason Atkinson August 14, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Debra, the HOT and the HOV are the same lanes...there is no merging of the HOT lanes into the HOV, there are one and the same for their entire length. Now merging them into the regular travel lanes might be a nightmare, but then, that is anyway. I do agree with Marcia on the point that the restrictions on which hybrids can use the lanes is senseless. Either a hybrid qualifies, or it doesn't (based on specs, not model year). That part seems to be more useless legislation.
Shannon September 14, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Our politicians and these HOT lanes are a joke. Once again here goes our government trying to fix something that really is not broken. As an ex-HOV-3 driver, and someone who has lived in this area for more than 15 years, the HOT lanes is the worst idea I have ever seen. If Virginia and Maryland had gotten their act together years ago and built the outer beltway that was supposed to be built - the traffic on 95 would not be such an issue. Now here we are, and all the travelers and local drivers who were able to use HOV on the weekends, at least going one direction, will have to pay to use the now "HOT" lanes 24/7. So providing drivers almost six (6) lanes in one direction that were open and free on weekends, and after 9 AM and 6 PM on weekdays, is completely gone. By the way, unless they changed the plans recently, the new HOT lanes will still only head in one direction at different times of the day - South during certain times and North at others. If the plan was to create two HOT lanes going South and two HOT lanes going North - I believe there would be less anger about this whole fiasco.

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