To Governor Bob McDonnell, the expansion of high occupancy toll lanes from Fairfax County to Stafford County on Interstate 95 in Virginia is a way to bring quality of life benefits to residents.
"It's not just traffic and congestion relief that we're here about, it's about getting small businesses to be more productive, it's about parents spending more time with their kids and tourists coming to Virginia in bigger ways," said McDonnell of the nearly $1 billion I-95 HOT lanes project.
McDonnell, with several local, federal and state leaders, officially broke ground on the Interstate 95 HOT lanes project Tuesday morning in Dale City.
"As Attorney General and Governor, I think I am maybe the largest frequent flyer up and down 95," said McDonnell. "So for those of you who have sat in traffic, I feel your pain."
"I think we've been talking about this for about eight years," said McDonnell of the project.
McDonnell said the project would add capacity and congestion relief and travel options. Buses and public transportation will be able to use the HOT lanes for free, McDonnell said.
"Think beyond asphalt," said McDonnell. "This is more than that."
Both McDonnell and Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said that they know about the issues with traffic on I-95 firsthand. The congestion problem can start at the Occoquan River and can go as far south as the Dale City rest area, both said.
McDonnell said the project will bring 2,500 jobs to Fairfax County, 2,600 jobs to Prince William County and 900 jobs to Stafford County.
The project will stretch from Edsall Road in Fairfax County to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.
Construction will begin in early August. Tuesday morning's groundbreaking signaled the ceremonial beginning of the construction process. The existing HOV lanes will be narrowed and shifted to the east and construction barriers will be installed for the workers.
Nearly 100 acres of trees will be cleared from the median of I-95 to expand the existing roadway south of Dumfries along the sides of the highway for new sound walls, said the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The work schedule is expected to be day and night shifts from Monday through Friday and most weekends.
No closures on I-95/395 general purpose lanes or high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour, VDOT said. But, during the night, expect full HOV system closures every night from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. and on most weekends, VDOT said.
The project is divided into four geographic segments along the 29-mile construction corridor. In all, the project will bring nine new bridges, three bridge widenings, new gantries, electronic tolling equipment, traffic monitoring equipment, new lanes on the I-95/395 footprint, new or updated highway drainage, 60,000 linear feet of new noise barrier and new Express Lane signage.
“We have worked diligently with the state and the private sector to help bring to light a project that provides our businesses with greater access to the Washington, DC market and our residents with greater commuting options along I-95 and I-495,” said Corey A. Stewart, Chairman, Prince William Board of County Supervisors in a release. “We have found a solution that will reduce commute times, increase slugging opportunities and minimize the cost to the taxpayers.”
"We want it delivered by 2014," McDonnell said to Fluor-Transurban—the design/builder of the 95 Express Lanes—at Tuesday's press conference.