VA’s $676M Interchange to Ease Traffic Woes

Wed January 05, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

One of the nation’s largest construction projects remains on schedule for completion in late 2007. The Springfield Interchange Project in Fairfax County, VA, which involves eight phases, got under way in March 1999. The overall cost currently is estimated at $676 million.

The interchange involves I-95, 395 and 495, where 430,000 vehicles pass through daily. During a two-year study, this area logged 179 accidents, which reportedly makes it the most dangerous spot on the 64-mi. Capital Beltway. To improve traffic flow, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) initiated a rebuild that would take eight years to complete. More than five bridges will be rebuilt, and I-95 will be widened to 24 lanes between the Beltway and Franconia Road.

VDOT noted, “The $676-million investment in the Springfield Interchange is substantial, but the increased safety the new interchange will offer is well worth the time and money. For years, the interchange has been more than just a network of bridges and pavement — it’s been a symbol of the frustrations of commuting. [It involves] too many cars trying to go in too many directions, without enough space or time to change lanes. Plus, Springfield is growing. Changes were needed to keep up with the growth.”

The new Interchange is designed to handle more than 500,000 vehicles, which experts estimate will pass through the area each day. “From the beginning,” VDOT explained “engineers have looked for ways to eliminate the dangerous weaving and merging that contribute to an average of three accidents a day in the interchange area. The result will be increased safety, and it will also mean more opportunities for economic development in the Springfield area.”

The estimated cost of the project increased as the scope changed. For example, a longer construction time was required for installing a deep sewer line in the core area where I-95/395 meet the Capital Beltway. In addition, construction of a three-stage railroad bridge on the Beltway over