WTOP: Bottleneck buster? Express Lanes extension to Fredericksburg on I-95 in Virginia set to open Thursday

WTOP, LUKE LUKERT

One of the most congested areas in the country may start to see some relief starting on Thursday evening. An extension of the I-95 Express Lanes will extend the quicker route all the way to Fredericksburg, Virginia.

“It’s over. Now, folks, we got some we got some fast wins,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Shep Miller told the crowd about the often bottlenecked stretch at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting in Stafford County.

The 10-mile extension to the I-95 Express Lanes completes the stretch through Stafford County. It runs from where current lanes end at Route 610 to Route 17 on the edge of Fredericksburg.

Vehicles with three or more occupants can use the lanes for free with an E-ZPass Flex transponder. Others can use the lanes by paying a toll that will vary based on traffic volume.

The Express Lanes reverse directions based on the primary traffic flow, typically northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening, and run parallel to the regular lanes.

With its completion, it is now the longest reversible road in the U.S., according to Virginia authorities.

Officials tout that it will add 66% more capacity to the stretch of interstate easing congestion.

“It is estimated to reduce 35 minutes off commuting times (during rush hour),” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin at the ceremony. “Thirty-five minutes to make sure that we can show up at sporting events and ballet recitals on time — 35 minutes that is your time, your time to invest, as you see fit. This is our chance,” Youngkin said.

The project nicknamed “Fred Ex” was completed by a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban.

“This project doesn’t completely eliminate congestion, but this project does provide you a choice when you need it the most to bypass that congestion,” said VP of Virginia Market and operations, Amanda Baxter.

The $670 million project will open for southbound traffic at 10 p.m. Thursday. Northbound traffic will take over the reversible lanes the following morning.

“For the last 10 years, I leave Richmond every Monday morning, drive to D.C. come back at the end of the week on 95. Even had to camp on I-95 once,” joked Sen. Tim Kaine who was stranded for hours on the interstate during the snowstorm in January of 2021.

“I’m a minor leaguer compared to most of you,” pointing at commuters in the crowd who deal with the stretch daily.

Additional entries and exits from the Express Lanes near Marine Corps Base Quantico and Courthouse Road will open in late 2023. A new flyover ramp for cars entering the northbound Express Lanes from Route 17 will open in late 2023.

“This expansion will provide so many opportunities to the people I represent, who commute back and forth to parts of Northern Virginia,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger.

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