Beltway Express Lanes are now open. The I-495 Express Lanes consist of 14 miles of new road capacity (two lanes in each direction) on I-495 between the Springfield Interchange to just north of the Dulles Toll Road. These Express lanes are free to vehicles traveling with three or more occupants. They provide, for the first time, HOV connections from the Beltway to other HOV routes including I-95, I-395, I-66 and the Dulles Toll Road. Vehicles carrying fewer than three occupants can pay a toll to ride in the Express Lanes.
Prices for the Express Lanes change according to traffic volume. All Express Lane drivers must have an EZ Pass, and HOV-3 riders must obtain a special EZ-Pass “Flex” transponder from VDOT in order to ride for free. See: http://www.ezpassva.com/EZPages/EZPassFlex.aspx. All motorists still have the option to travel for free in the regular Beltway lanes. This represents a new transportation concept for Northern Virginia. I welcome your comments about how it is working.
I-66 was resurfaced during the summer and autumn between the Beltway and Route 50 in Fairfax County. You may have noticed that in some sections of I-66, double lines now separate the HOV lane from the general purpose lanes. This aims to prevent motorists from moving in and out of the HOV lane, which can slow traffic in all lanes. You may be ticketed for crossing the double line at any time of day or night. Also, the shoulder lane has a different, clay-colored surface to call attention to the fact that it is not open at all times.
In the near future, work will begin to install new lane control signs to implement Active Traffic Management (ATM) between Gainesville and the Potomac River. ATM will allow the I-66 shoulder lanes to open when needed on a 24/7 basis between the Beltway and Route 50. In addition, ATM will provide better accident notification to avoid specific lanes should there be an incident ahead by using new lane control signals above all lanes between the Beltway and Centreville. ATM is being implemented as a result of my request to the Secretary of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board. It is already in use in other parts of the U.S.
Longer term capacity improvements for I-66, including mass transit, are under review by VDOT in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Preliminary options are expected to be available for public comment in the near future.
Widening Route 50 west of Route 28 will result in three lanes in each direction, open by the end of 2014, with final details completed in 2015. You should expect to see shifting of lanes in both directions at various times during the winter as construction continues, weather permitting. The reason this project is taking so long is due to the need to keep traffic moving during construction, which limits the ability of VDOT to close lanes.
The Fairfax Parkway bridge over Fair Lakes Parkway is now open. Construction will continue at this site for a few months as exits to Fair Lakes Parkway and the connector lanes to Monument Drive are completed.
Repaving of Fairfax Parkway was completed in early December. VDOT repaved a 24-mile section from Rolling Road in Springfield to the Fairfax/Loudoun County line north of Reston. Special quiet asphalt has been applied to road surfaces in both directions between Rugby Road and West Ox Road. Fairfax Parkway is just one of several roadways being used to test quiet pavement technology in Virginia. Quiet pavement is being implemented according to a law I authored in 2011.
Stringfellow Road work continues - Utility relocation above and below ground is now complete. Road surface construction is expected to commence in March 2013 and be completed in mid-2015, providing two lanes in each direction the full length of the road between Route 50 and I-66. VDOT will hold public outreach meetings about this in the near future.
Widening Route 606 in Loudoun County from Evergreen Mill Road to the Dulles Greenway is in the planning stages. This five mile project would build a four lane median-divided road designed to be widened further in the future. A public hearing regarding this is anticipated in early 2013.
New North-South Highway in Loudoun and Prince William Counties - A connection between I-66 in the Manassas area and Route 50 west of South Riding is in the planning stages, often referred to as the Bi-County Parkway. A highway north of Route 50 is being considered west of Dulles Airport. Information about these plans is available at the website listed at the bottom of this page.
Dulles Rail - Phase 1 of the “Silver Line” will open later in 2013 from near the West Falls Church Metro station through Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Financial decisions made several years ago by the state and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) permit the use of tolls on the Dulles Toll Road to pay for a significant part of the project’s cost. Tolls increased again this month.
Phase 2 will complete the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County. I am opposed to continuing the use of tolls to pay for Phase 2 of the project, as this will force additional toll hikes for years to come. Toll hikes reduce use of the Toll Road and increase congestion on other roads—and tolls are paid by people who are not benefitting from Metrorail because they are driving cars. Phase 2 should be paid by contributions from the federal and state governments and by the future riders of the Silver Line through their fare card fees.
Route 28 – I-66 Intersection – Construction will begin in mid-2013 on an extension of the southbound Rt. 28 left turn lanes onto eastbound I-66. VDOT is conducting a review of alternatives to improve other aspects of this congested intersection.
Braddock and Pleasant Valley Road – VDOT has funding to evaluate a possible roundabout or traffic light solution to the long backups at this intersection.
Selection of future congestion reduction projects — VDOT has started to implement the law I authored in 2012 to require that proposed transportation projects be rated using computer simulation technology to estimate the congestion reduction benefits of each project. In this way, the best rated projects can be funded on a priority basis.
Transportation websites - In response to many requests, a website has been established, http://novasnowplowing.virginia.gov/, to track to progress of snow plows. If you use this website when it snows, please send me your comments regarding its usefulness. For construction information, see: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern%20virginia/default.asp. Real time traffic information is available at: http://www.511virginia.org.
(Jim LeMunyon, Member, Virginia House of Delegates, 67th District, www.LeMunyon.com)