Northern Virginia commuters will continue to navigate around major construction in the coming months as the Virginia Department of Transportation sticks to its aggressive completion schedule for transportation projects.
Steve Titunik, VDOT's communications director, said he was proud of what VDOT and its partners had been able to accomplish and hoped that construction on the state's many projects, including express lanes on I-95 and the Capital Beltway, would stay on schedule.
“Spring seems to have started early, which is great news for us,” he said.
The final phase of the Fairfax County Parkway project, a portion of road with interchanges connecting the Franconia-Springfield Parkway to the Fairfax County Parkway at Rolling Road, will be completed by the end of summer 2012, said Tom Fahrney, VDOT’s BRAC coordinator.
“This project will be delivered on time and under budget,” he said.
Construction on an I-95 HOV ramp connector to Fort Belvoir North is expected to begin this summer, he said.
The controversial ramp connecting the HOV lanes on I-395 to Seminary Road near Mark Center in Alexandria is currently undergoing an environmental assessment.
The Department of Defense has put up $20 million for short-term improvements to the area in preparation for the ramp. These include ramp widening and construction scheduled to begin this summer. They could be complete in 2013.
If the HOV ramp passes its environmental assessment – Fahrney said he hoped it would – then construction could begin in 2013, with an estimated completion in late 2015.
Another environmental assessment is underway for widening Route 1 between Telegraph Road and Mount Vernon Highway near Fort Belvoir.
The DoD has granted $180 million for the project, and Fahrney said he hoped to have the results of the EA in May 2012.
If no significant impact is determined, then construction could begin between the spring and summer of 2013.
I-95 Express Lanes
Construction on the 9-mile extension from Dumphries down to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County is expected to begin in 2012, Lynch said.
VDOT will also be expanding HOV facility to three lanes for 14 miles between the Prince William Parkway to Edsall Road.
The commonwealth agreed to major business terms in December. The private sector will fund $840 million in financing and construction for the project, and has agreed to $10.2 billion in operation and maintenance costs over 73 years.
The project, formerly known as the I-95 High Occupancy and Toll Lanes, will connect with the toll lanes being constructed on I-495. Commuters in single occupancy vehicles will have an option to pay a toll if they want to use the lanes. Prices will depend on the amount of traffic, according to officials.
Although no set price is in place, an "an average three-exit trip is projected to be roughly $5 to $6,” according to VDOT officials.
Woodrow Wilson Bridge/Telegraph Road Interchange
“This should be the last year we talk about the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project,” said John Lynch, VDOT's regional transportation program director. According to VDOT’s presentation, the project is roughly 90 percent complete.
VDOT hopes to have the inner loop of the project completely paved and operational by late June 2012, and the outer loop fully open a couple of months later, in late mid-August.
“We’ll have traffic impacts as we do that work on the Beltway,” he said. He hoped that the Beltway would be moving freely by the time school started at the end of the summer.
The entire project, including substantial improvements at the Telegraph Road interchange, is scheduled for completion in June 2013.
Between now and then, commuters at the interchange can expect to see the traffic that has been present in the area for the last couple of years.
495 Express Lanes Construction
The I-495 Express Lanes, formerly known as the I-495 HOT Lanes, are about 90 percent complete and scheduled to open in late 2012, Lynch said.
The road will operate through a partnership between VDOT and the Transurban-Fluor consortium. VDOT will continue to own the road, while the private sector will operate and provide periodic maintenance.
An EZ Pass is required for driving in the toll lanes. Commuters will have the option of paying a toll for single occupancy vehicles, or enjoying a toll-free ride in a vehicle with three or more people.
Customers who purchase an EZ Pass Flex can switch the device off when riding with three or more people and will not be charged a toll.
Tim Steinhilber, Transurban-Fluor’s 495 Express Lanes manager, said that like the I-95 Express Lanes, tolls will fluctuate depending on traffic and demand.
Signs advertising toll rates will be erected so that drivers can decide if they want to use them.
Toll equipment will then identify the drivers total trip distance through EZ-Pass detection and determine the total charge.
Construction on Phase I of the Dulles Metrorail project is currently 70 percent complete, Lynch said, and it’s on schedule for completion in during summer 2013.
After extensive testing of the system, service will begin in late 2013, he said.
The second phase of the project, a $2.7 billion extension from Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, is under review in both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the county’s participation in the project .
Loudoun County’s board, the majority of which was recently elected in November 2011, is expected to vote in early July.
Officials said they didn’t know what the potential delays to Phase II would be if Loudoun County opted out of the project.