I-95 express lanes project gets underway

Photo: Jay Westcott

Another step toward easing congestion on the congested I-95 corridor began Tuesday, when officials broke ground on the next wave of express lanes in Northern Virginia.

The stretch of highway between Garrisonville Road in Stafford County and Edsall Road in Fairfax County has been a troublesome bottleneck for decades, but high hopes around this construction project center around breaking up some of that irritating traffic.

"It's about small businesses being more productive and families spending more time together," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said at the groundbreaking.

The plan is to widen the interstate and build express lanes by converting the existing HOV lanes into toll ones. The tolls could cost as much as $5 during peak driving hours. Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton says that contractors have mandated that speeds in the new lanes will stay at 55 mph.

The revamped lanes will start just after the mixing bowl in Springfield and run about nine miles south into Stafford County. The project initially called for the lanes to extend all the way to the District of Columbia, but Arlington County balked at participating in the project.

While many drivers welcome the potential for relief on the highway, others aren't ready to pay the new tolls.

"You feel like you're not paying for driving," commuter Bruce Goins said. "It's really just another tax."