State and local officials celebrated the start of construction June 5 on the Fed Ex, a $565 million, 10-mile extension of the I-95 Express Lanes from just south of Garrisonville Road to U.S. 17 near the Rappahannock River.
“This is a big day for Fredericksburg, for Stafford and the surrounding communities,” Gov. Ralph Northam said.
Calling it one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the history of the commonwealth, Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine noted that, when completed in fall 2022, there will be 50 miles of uninterrupted express lane travel along one of the most congested corridors in the United States.
The project will provide additional options for quicker and more reliable travel by extending the HOV/toll express lanes, adding two new reversible express lanes along the median. The new lanes will be available at no cost to E-ZPass “HOV 3+” drivers.
Avoiding the use of any taxpayer dollars, the project will be financed by Transurban, the private partner that helped develop the HOV toll lanes from D.C. to Stafford, as well as the 495 Express Lanes.
Transurban is also paying Virginia $277 million to advance transportation projects along the I-95 corridor.
Those projects include the Northbound Rappahannock River Crossing, said Transurban North America President Jennifer Aument. That work will help add local lanes for I-95 traffic through Fredericksburg.
“We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the commonwealth to deliver the transformational transportation networks Virginians deserve,” she said.
For Aument, the success of the project is personal. She’s driven that stretch of I-95 herself for more than a decade.
“There’s about 140,000 of us out on this stretch of road every day,” she said. “It’s not uncommon to sit in a 10-mile queue in the summertime for two hours.”.
The project is also designed to give drivers some of that time back, Aument said.
“That, as you know, is the greatest gift,” she said. “The outcome is personal to all of us. Today, we go to work.”
In addition to time, the project will also put additional money into the local economy, said Northam. The project will create 9,100 new jobs and have an impact of $1.1 billion on the economy.
“It’s about the economy,” Northam said “It’s about jobs. We want to be business-friendly.”
The project will also create new express lane access points near Marine Corps Base Quantico, as well as a reversible ramp connection at Old Courthouse Road. Seven bridge structures will be renovated, including the replacement of two existing bridges over I-95 at American Legion Road and Truslow Road.
At the announcement, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, called it an exciting day for the Fredericksburg area.
“This is really about our region and making sure we have the infrastructure necessary to support a thriving economy, to make sure we improve the quality of people’s lives in the region,” he said. “Transportation issues transcend political boundaries and political parties. It’s about doing what’s right for our communities and commonwealth.”