The Virginia Department of Transportation will build an auxiliary lane on Interstate 95 to address the bottleneck heading south at Va. 123 near Occoquan.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced the deal for the new lane as one of several agreements signed with Transurban, the private partner that operates the 95 Express Lane.
Another project highlighted Tuesday will add a reversible ramp for the Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard, providing better access to Potomac Mills and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. Northam also announced new agreements related to the completion of the northern extension of express lanes on Interstate 495 in McLean and the southern extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Exit 133 in Fredericksburg.
The bottleneck at the Occoquan exit has been a top priority for local officials, but any road project to improve traffic in the main lanes of I-95 requires a significant payment to Transurban for potential revenue losses on the toll lanes.
Northam said Transurban will not require a payment for the auxiliary lane, which is expected to run from Va. 123 to the Prince William Parkway. In fact, the state plans to use payments from the deal with Transurban for the toll lane extensions in McLean and Fredericksburg to help fund the auxiliary lane.
“Since taking office, from day one, I have been fighting for families in the Prince William area, and traffic congestion has been a major source of frustration for commuters,” said Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th District.
Calling the bottleneck the worst traffic problem in the state, Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th District, said it has been a top priority in Prince William County over several years.
“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," he said.
Residents have been calling for a fix at the Occoquan exit for years, noted Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan.
“I’m elated because we have been engaged,” she said. “This particular project, our board was very supportive and our county transportation [department] did a great job coming up with a project. I couldn’t be more happy at this very moment.”
The new ramp at Opitz will be funded, designed and constructed by Transurban with access directly onto the busy road that also includes access to Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.
The final agreement for the 10-mile extension of the 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg is expected to include a payment of $54 million to $98 million to the state, depending on the final terms of a federal loan for the project.
"Fred Ex" will provide two reversible express lanes of new capacity. It is expected to increase capacity on this section of I-95 by 66 percent during peak periods, Northam said. Construction is planned to begin later this year with the new lanes opening to traffic in the fall of 2022.
Monica Backmon, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, said the extension of the 495 Express Lanes and the construction of a new southbound Occoquan auxiliary lane on I-95 will directly impact two of the worst bottlenecks in the state.
"We applaud the governor’s office for these transportation investments which will impact Northern Virginians and businesses alike, and result in less time commuting and more time for residents to spend time with their families," Backmon said.