I-95 Express Lane Construction Progresses in Virginia

📅   Wed April 12, 2017 - National Edition
Brenda Ruggiero


In Stafford County, Va., construction is under way to extend the Interstate 95 Express Lanes about 2 mi. (3.2 km) beyond the flyover ramp where the current 95 Express Lanes currently end, north of Garrisonville Road (Exit 143).
In Stafford County, Va., construction is under way to extend the Interstate 95 Express Lanes about 2 mi. (3.2 km) beyond the flyover ramp where the current 95 Express Lanes currently end, north of Garrisonville Road (Exit 143).
In Stafford County, Va., construction is under way to extend the Interstate 95 Express Lanes about 2 mi. (3.2 km) beyond the flyover ramp where the current 95 Express Lanes currently end, north of Garrisonville Road (Exit 143). The project aims to reduce delays for northbound general lanes during the morning peak, reduce delays for southbound express lanes during the evening peak, improve safety by reducing vehicles weaving to enter and exit the lanes and increase capacity within the existing right-of-way. Extensive tree clearing and grading is being performed in the median of Interstate 95.

In Stafford County, Va., construction is under way to extend the Interstate 95 Express Lanes about 2 mi. (3.2 km) beyond the flyover ramp where the current 95 Express Lanes currently end, north of Garrisonville Road (Exit 143).

The project reportedly aims to reduce delays for northbound general lanes during the morning peak, reduce delays for southbound express lanes during the evening peak, improve safety by reducing vehicles weaving to enter and exit the lanes and increase capacity within the existing right-of-way.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the project in December 2015.

“These are significant transportation improvements that will move more people and commerce through an interstate corridor, and a critical jobs corridor,” McAuliffe said in a news release. “In working with our private sector partner Transurban and local governments, we will fix the bottleneck on the southern end in Stafford County, and travelers will have the choice of taking an express trip from south of Garrisonville Road all the way up to the D.C. line.”

Construction began in July 2016, and the entire project is on track to be complete in the summer of 2018. The project's new southbound exit ramp is anticipated to open in late 2017/early 2018, with the new northbound entrance opening in summer 2018.

The private partners who built the 95 Express Lanes facility, 95 Express Lanes LLC, made a $25 million contribution for the 95 Express Lanes Southern Terminus Extension project in Stafford County. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will pay the remaining project costs beyond $25 million.

According to Kelly Hannon, communications manager of VDOT's Fredericksburg District, the Southern Terminus Extension was estimated to cost a total of $50 million. “However, the project was awarded to Branch Highways Inc. for $31.1 million,” she explained.

“Although a project's final cost is not precisely determined until it is complete, and all bills are submitted, it is anticipated the total cost for the Southern Terminus Extension will be less than $50 million based on the construction award amount.”

The project was awarded to Branch Highways Inc. of Roanoke, Va. Its design partner is Whitman, Requardt & Associates.

VDOT's project manager is Paul Nishimoto, and Branch Highway's general superintendent is Steve Morris.

According to Hannon, this project will extend 95 Express Lanes in Stafford County by an additional 2.2 mi. (3.5 km) to the south, with an additional 0.7 mi. (1.1 km) of restriping. A reversible single lane is being built in the median of I-95, splitting into northbound and southbound merge ramps.

“When the project is complete, northbound traffic in the main lanes will be able to enter the express lanes earlier at a new left entrance south of the Garrisonville Road [Route 610] overpass,” Hannon said. “The existing left-entrance north of Garrisonville Road will remain. Southbound Express Lanes traffic heading to Fredericksburg and south will be able to continue past Garrisonville and merge about one mile south of Garrisonville Road.”

Hannon noted that a dynamic pricing structure will be used, where toll prices are adjusted based on traffic demand.

The project will enhance safety by limiting merging and weaving to enter and exit 95 Express Lanes near the Interstate 95 interchange at Exit 143/Garrisonville Road.

Extensive tree clearing and grading is being performed in the median of Interstate 95. The installation of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) also is a part of the project. They are reportedly needed to operate Express Lanes, which uses a dynamic tolling model.

The project involves 200,000 cu. yds. (152,911 cu m) of earth moved; 40,000 tons (36,287 t) of asphalt; 94,000 ft. (28,651 m) of ITS conduit; and 41,000 ft. (12,497 m) of striping.

An estimated 120 people will be working on the construction site at various points between the project start and completion. The project is working with approximately 20 subcontractors, plus suppliers.

Primary subcontractors include Chesapeake Electrical for ITS; Superior Paving for asphalt; Long Fence for guardrail; Whitman, Requardt & Associates for the design; Terra Site Contractors for the sound wall; and A-annandale for striping.

Major equipment used on the job includes a Caterpillar 336 excavator; a Hitachi 350 excavator; a Caterpillar D-6 dozer; a Volvo A25D truck; and K-Tec pans.—CEG