Drivers in the Occoquan area are familiar with commuting nightmares linked to three intersections around the community.
That should change soon with two projects ready to begin and a third on the ballot in November.
In January, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced plans to build an auxiliary lane on I-95 from Va. 123 to Prince William Parkway in order to help alleviate traffic at the bottleneck at that exit as the interstate narrows from four to three lanes.
The idea was thought doomed by a contract with TransUrban, the company that operates the I-95 Express Lanes. The state cannot make changes to the main lanes that would impact the revenue agreement with TransUrban.
In larger contract negotiations for a new Fredericksburg extension to the Express Lanes, the state was able to not only get the required approval from the company, but also secure revenue from the extension deal that will be used to fund the project.
Construction for the I-95 auxiliary lane could start as early as next year, said Occouan District Supervisor Ruth Anderson. The idea for expanding I-95 came from residents who attended town halls, she said, adding the county’s transportation department worked on the initial design for the I-95 auxiliary lane.
“It’s not a total fix, everyone knows that, but it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.
“The credit goes to residents who came to meetings and helped us decide the highest priorities.”
Anderson said she also is advocating for an additional I-95 northbound lane in the same area as the auxiliary lane.
In May, Prince William County was awarded $11.85 million through VDOT’s Smart Scale program, which weighs projects based on factors such as safety, congestion mitigation and economic development. The funding will realign Old Bridge Road at the intersection with Occoquan Road to improve safety and sight distance, particularly as drivers head south on Old Bridge Road.
Officials are set to replace the traffic signal and will construct an additional right-turn lane as drivers heading south out of Occoquan on Occoquan Road try to head west onto Old Bridge Road, according to county officials. Sidewalks will also be a part of the project.
Construction for this project may start as early as 2024, Anderson said. “In the meantime, there will probably be design work,” she said.
Anderson said improving this intersection will be important, because of the intersection’s proximity to Occoquan Elementary School on Occoquan Road. The elementary school is set to be replaced by September 2025 with a new building on the site, according to the county’s capital improvement plan approved earlier this year.
The third road project will be decided by voters countywide on the ballot Nov. 5. The county is asking for approval to spend $355 million on a handful of transportation projects, including $15 million to improve the intersection of Va. Route 123, or Gordon Boulevard, and Old Bridge Road.
If approved, the project would make it easier for traffic exiting I-95 and coming from U.S. Route 1 and Woodbridge to make a safer turn onto Old Bridge Road, according to county transportation officials. That could possibly include a new flyover, but final designs have not been determined.
The project would take 3-5 years to complete. County transportation officials noted the county would need to acquire right of way to complete the project if they went with a flyover.
If the transportation bond is approved, the county would conduct more work on how to best improve the intersection, Anderson said.