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Virginia and Transurban Sign Agreements to Invest More Than $1 Billion in Northern Virginia Transportation

Four projects reduce congestion and improve connectivity on I-495 and I-95, including the Occoquan Auxiliary Lane

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia has signed agreements with private partner Transurban to deliver critical transportation solutions along Interstate 495 and Interstate 95. Months of close collaboration and negotiation between the Commonwealth and Transurban have resulted in a deal for four transportation infrastructure projects that will create significant value for citizens and businesses throughout Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg.

“My administration is committed to creating opportunity for Virginia families and businesses in every corner of the Commonwealth, and that requires having a safe, reliable transportation network,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased to announce these four projects that will bring significant improvements to I-495 and I-95, easing congestion, enhancing safety, and driving economic growth.”

The projects are:

  • A 2.5-mile extension of the 495 Express Lanes north to the American Legion Bridge to reduce congestion. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban have signed a Project Development Agreement for the Capital Beltway Express Lanes Northern Extension (Project NEXT), which includes direct connections with the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Dulles Toll Road.  Four general purpose (GP) lanes and two new Express Lanes will run in each direction of the Capital Beltway starting from the current terminus near the Dulles Access Road and ending at the American Legion Bridge. With no public funding by the Commonwealth, the Express Lanes network will be extended to the Maryland border, helping address one of the worst bottlenecks in the region and reduce cut-through traffic in local McLean neighborhoods.
  • Addition of a new, reversible ramp connecting the existing 95 Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard to provide improved access to Potomac Mills and Sentara Virginia Medical Center. The ramp will offer Express Lane drivers the option to exit directly onto Opitz Boulevard. Transurban will be responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and all associated costs, creating greater accessibility for the residents and business community.
  • Construction of a new southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane on Interstate 95 in Woodbridge to address the traffic bottleneck at the Occoquan Bridge. The Occoquan Auxiliary Lane will connect the southbound Route 123 ramp onto I-95 with the off-ramp at westbound Prince William Parkway. The Commonwealth and Transurban have agreed the improvements will not require any compensation payment to Transurban.  

“Transurban has a long history of working with the Commonwealth to collaboratively solve major transportation challenges,” said Transurban President Jennifer Aument. “With expanded capacity and new connections to commuter routes and commercial centers, we are committed to delivering transportation solutions that keep travelers moving faster and safer throughout Northern Virginia.”

VDOT is advancing required environmental studies to support these projects, and the partners will commence extensive engagement with the community and local stakeholders as they develop more detailed design plans. While the timeline for delivery of the improvements will continue to be refined, construction could begin as early as 2020. 

  • In addition, the proposal for the Fredericksburg Extension Project (Fred Ex), a project consisting of a 10-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg, has been finalized and is on track for commercial close this spring. Since the project was initially announced in January 2018, contract negotiations, a competitive design-build procurement, and more favorable financing options have advanced the deal, enabling Transurban to deliver to the Commonwealth a payment of between $54 to 98 million to fund additional transportation improvements depending on final teams of TIFIA, a low interest federal loan. In addition to the existing three general purpose (GP) lanes, Fred Ex will provide two reversible Express Lanes of new capacity, which will be available at no charge to HOV 3+ and transit riders. The project is expected to increase capacity on this section of I-95 by 66 percent during peak periods. Construction is planned to begin later this year with the facility opening to traffic in the fall of 2022.

“These negotiations have resulted in a more than $1 billion investment in transportation infrastructure in these vital regions of Virginia,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Working collaboratively, we are delivering on our commitment to reduce congestion, improve safety, and increase reliability for those we serve.”

In total, Transurban has committed more than $1 billion over the next five years to fund enhancements to the regional transportation network. Competitive design-build procurements are being used to further ensure best value for Virginia taxpayers.

“The I-95 bottleneck at the Occoquan Bridge has been a source of personal frustration and time stuck in traffic—valuable time that could be spent with family,” said Senator Jeremy McPike. “With funding now in place, VDOT will begin the design and construction that our community has sought for years. I applaud Governor Northam and Secretary Valentine for their commitment and leadership to making improvements and identifying funding to start this project immediately.”

“The Occoquan bottleneck is the worst traffic problem in Virginia and has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to represent Prince William County in 2015,” said Senator Scott Surovell. “I am ecstatic that Governor Northam’s administration and Transurban were able to negotiate a way to expedite construction on this critical improvement. Everyone wins in this deal.”

“I am delighted that Governor Northam and his team have found a way to expand capacity on I-495, heading up to the American Legion Bridge,” said Senator Barbara Favola. “This improvement demonstrates Virginia’s commitment to easing traffic throughout the region and provides further incentives for Maryland to help address congestion on the Bridge.”

By 2022, the Commonwealth of Virginia will have in place 90 miles of connected Express Lanes network throughout Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg. Together with general purpose (GP) lanes, rail, commuter rail, transit, ferries, and trails, these multimodal travel options are creating a future of more seamless mobility for residents, commuters, and businesses.

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495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study Public Information Meeting

Learn about the Virginia Department of Transportation’s environmental study regarding plans to extend the I-495 Express Lanes by approximately three miles from the Dulles Toll Road interchange towards the Maryland line, in the vicinity of the American Legion Bridge.

JUNE 11, 2018 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.
Presentation starts at 7 p.m.
Cooper Middle School Cafeteria
977 Balls Hill Road, McLean, VA 22101

Stop by to learn more about the project and discuss your questions with VDOT staff. A short presentation will begin at 7 p.m.

In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 23 CFR Part 771, an Environmental Assessment (EA) will be prepared. VDOT is currently conducting environmental analyses and coordinating with regulatory agencies to obtain information about environmental resources in the vicinity of the project.

Review study information on the VDOT website (www.virginiadot.org/projects), at the public information meeting, or during business hours at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District Office at 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

Give your written comments at the meeting or submit them by June 25, 2018 to Susan Shaw, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030, or email meetingcomments@VDOT.virginia.gov. Please reference “I-495 Express Lanes Northern Extension Study” in the subject line.

VDOT ensures nondiscrimination and equal employment in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you need special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency, contact Susan Shaw, P.E. at 703-691-6715.

Federal: NHPP-0495(095), State: 0495-029-419, UPC: 113414

VDOT to Launch Study to Extend I-495 Express Lanes Toward American Legion Bridge and Maryland Line

Funding approved to conduct environmental analysis of project

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved funding in the amount of $6 million Wednesday for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to conduct an environmental study of a plan to extend the I-495 Express Lanes by approximately three miles from the I-495 and Dulles Toll Road interchange to the vicinity of the American Legion Bridge and Maryland line. This northern extension to the 495 Express Lanes would help relieve a traffic-choked section of I-495 by providing more capacity, new travel choices and benefits for carpoolers.

According to Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine, "This is a regional problem that requires a regional solution. We are pleased to begin our efforts to formally study bringing transportation improvements to this area, and look forward to working in partnership with Maryland, as they too work to find the best solutions for this challenging traffic area."

Virginia's I-495 Northern Express Lanes Extension study, also referred to as 495 NEXT, will be developed as an independent, stand-alone project that will be closely coordinated and compatible with plans for the I-495 Capital Beltway in Maryland. The full scope of improvements will be refined over the coming months.

The environmental study, which will be completed according to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), will evaluate site-specific conditions and potential effects the proposed improvements may have on air quality, noise, neighborhoods, parks, recreation areas, historic properties, wetlands and streams, and other resources. The study will begin this month and is expected to be completed in 2019.

The public will have their first opportunity to learn more about the proposed project and upcoming study at a public information meeting scheduled for Monday, June 11, 2018 at Cooper Middle School in McLean.