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VDOT plans 84 mile express lanes network

VDOT plans 84 miles express lane network (ABC7)

Today, VDOT started an environmental assessment, preparing to expand I-395 express lanes eight miles to the north from Edsall Road to Eads Street near the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, this summer, VDOT crews will also start expanding the toll lanes a couple miles to the south just beyond Garrisonville.

Drivers have long complained that traffic along the 95 corridor is notorious.

"It's a mess for four or five hours in the morning and four or five hours in the evening on that stretch," said Charles McAndrew.

But with the planned extension of the 395 and 95 express lanes to the north and south, and factoring in toll lanes planned for 66, VDOT Thursday celebrated what will become an 84-mile network of express lanes across Northern Virginia.

The Commonwealth is also seeking federal grant dollars it hopes to use to extend the 95 express lanes further south, as far as the Rappahannock River. The $1.5 billion package of projects would also include new investments in rail and other infrastructure.

"We think we have a good shot, working with our federal partners to really enhance that whole 95 corridor," Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said.

There are critics who call express lanes "Lexus lanes."

"It's just preferring people who have money who can afford it," said Dile Balay.

Omar Adams said, "VDOT's pricing going back and forth is not worth paying the extra $10 going in and out of the city."

Some drivers believe express lanes only kick traffic bottlenecks down the road.

"When you have two lanes merging, it just gets more congested," said Emir Omerhodzic.

The transportation sec acknowledges no matter how far north Virginia extends 395 express lanes, at some point, drivers will reach the bridges feeding into very dense D.C. But he said VDOT is communicating with transportation colleagues in the District and Maryland, working to find solutions to work around those bottlenecks.

"That's why it's got to multi-modal, why the Long Bridge, additional VRE sets, Amtrak sets, have got to help getting people who chose to out of their cars, if given those opportunities," Layne said.

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