Messy traffic ruled the morning on northbound I-95 in Virginia on Wednesday after new pavement in Prince William County failed - a nightmare commute that the Virginia Department of Transportation is apologizing for.
Emergency construction was necessary on the heavily-used artery between mile markers 156 and 160 after new pavement that crews had installed late Tuesday night failed.
A paving problem and a heavy rainstorm combined to cause the backup, which at times stretched for 15 miles as far south as Stafford County, VDOT says.
Kevin Jones stalled in the traffic jam Wednesday morning on his regular drive from Richmond to Springfield.
“Really frustrating. I was like an hour late to my first stop,” Jones said.
A VDOT spokesperson says a crew that had been working through Tuesday night to repair a 25-by-25 foot section of concrete near the Prince William Parkway exit off northbound I-95.
Heavy overnight rain caused complications to the work, causing crews to work at least 90 minutes past their original 5:30 a.m. completion time. One of the lanes had to be closed for a significant portion of the morning rush.
Driver Darrin Hemphill worried this was a harbinger of things to come if the hot lane project is approved for this commuter corridor.
“Maybe the same thing as this morning. I really hate to say that but I really do think so,” Hemphill said.
The planned high-occupancy toll lanes are to run a 30-mile stretch of I-95 from Stafford County to Alexandria. VDOT officials say construction has impacted traffic less than anticipated. They say the proposed project will be less complicated and will likely avoid back-ups like this morning's.
“VDOT's not going to let that happen. We don't want this to be any indication of what's to come if we build the 95 hotlanes,” spokesperson Joan Morris said.
VDOT is investigating why the crew was working in the rain at all. The agency says that the roadwork still has not been completed and that crews could be back out at work as early as Wednesday night.