Skip to comments.I-95 Bottleneck: Anderson pushes plan to add shoulder lane at Occoquan
Posted on 05/26/2018 8:16:36 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Traffic backs up virtually every day on Interstate 95 southbound where it crosses the Occoquan River entering Prince William County because five lanes are decreased to three.
Prince William Supervisor Ruth Anderson, R-Occoquan, has proposed a solution: Build a reinforced shoulder lane along I-95 south from the Route 123 interchange at Occoquan to the Prince William Parkway. This will keep four lanes available.
Not only will this improve commute time, it will prevent frustration with having one of the worst bottlenecks in the nation, Anderson said.
The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is conducting an air quality analysis to see how the project will affect emissions. All projects under review must not negatively affect air quality, and Anderson hopes that the results will show reduced emissions.
The project is also under review for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, with plans to request state funding in August through Smart Scale, a process that will allow the state to prioritize funding for the project. However, Anderson acknowledges that the project will still require funding from other sources, such as federal grants or the Regional Surface Transportation Program.
Anderson has met with a number of state and local transportation officials regarding the shoulder lane and says that the proposal has won the support of Virginias Secretary of Transportation, Shannon Valentine, along with Deputy Secretary of Transportation Nick Donahue. The plan is also supported by the U.S. Department of Transportations Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, Anthony Bedell.
The Transportation Planning Board was scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the proposed project at the McCoart Administration Building.
Anderson compares the proposed shoulder lane to those on Interstate 66 that open at certain times, although she plans for this lane to be open all the time. She hopes this will alleviate what the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments considers one of the worst bottlenecks in the region.
Anderson says the proposal also should relieve traffic on Old Bridge Road in Prince William.
One of the reasons Old Bridge Road is so congested is because I-95 is congested. People use Old Bridge Road as a way to get off I-95, and as a way to bypass it, Anderson said.
The project intends to address lingering issues from construction in 2011, which widened I-95 from three to four lanes in both directions between Springfield and the Occoquan River. Drivers were left with a poorly integrated merge lane when traveling south at the interchange with state Route 123. Anderson called the worsening bottleneck an embarrassment and said it negatively affects economic opportunity.
Shortly after the widening project was completed, the state signed an agreement with Transurban, the private company that builds and manages express lanes, to convert and expand the I-95 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to toll lanes. Although the new HOT lanes give southbound drivers an alternative to the Occoquan logjam at rush hour, single-occupancy vehicles must pay tolls to use them.
We are committed to doing everything we can to continue to support VDOT in their efforts to improve travel conditions on I-95, said Michael McGurk, Transurban spokesperson.
In 2016, Anderson proposed expanding I-95 in both directions between the Occoquan River and the Prince William Parkway to relieve the bottleneck. That proposal was rejected on the grounds that it lacked vision and had an unclear cost, and that the added lanes would deter drivers from using the express lanes. The state Commonwealth Transportation Board feared that the added lane would create a compensation event, which could be a breach of contract with Transurban.
The contract that was signed for the express lanes said we couldnt add capacity to I-95, because they wanted people to use the express lanes, Anderson said, adding that the shoulder lane is a way to get around that concern.
The I-95 HOT express lanes were completed in 2014 at an estimated cost of $925 million and stretch 29 miles between Stafford and Fairfax County. As part of the project, the express lanes from Dumfries to Edsall Road were also widened.
The express lanes use variable tolling, based on traffic conditions, but vehicles with three or more passengers can use the lanes for free.
Widen it to five lanes and extend the Metro down on the center median. I spent 19 years in DC area and all they do is bandaids, never really fixing the problem. I-66 is another example. What a disaster.
Traffic in northern Virginia is among the worst in the nation, from what I’ve heard.
I have no answers, just happy that I don’t have to cope with such rush hour traffic .
Yep. I am moving out of the area. Had enough. Good riddance.
I’m in Occoquan right now. I know that bottleneck very well.
Unfortunately, by the time they get this done, there will just be more traffic and the problem will stay the same until we can finally get those one passenger drones for everybody.
With the HOT/Carpool lanes in the median of I-95 taking up so much space if the HOT lanes were eliminated I-95 could have been widened to at least 5 lanes each way.
Dwight Eisenhower would be very surprised to see how snarled the Interstate Highway system has become, especially on the Eastern Seaboard. I’m old enough to remember when Route 128 in Boston area (part of I-95) was called the “road to nowhere.” Now it is a parking lot about 8 hours a day. Same in Connecticut, especially from New Haven on south to NYC.
I-95 in the Boston area is a nightmare——they even allow the breakdown lane to be used during AM and PM rush hours-——delightful if you really NEED the breakdown lane.
Cut the number parasitic federal employees instead of building more roads.
I have a simple fix. Cut the federal government bureaucracy in half.
This should reduce the traffic load substantially making any road widening unnecessary.
In the long run, it might even return northern Virginia back to Virginia (in terms of voting).
...The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board is conducting an air quality analysis to see how the project will affect emissions. All projects under review must not negatively affect air quality, and Anderson hopes that the results will show reduced emissions....
Lets see ... total emissions produced by a car or truck spending 25 minutes, repeatedly stopping and then speeding up in a bottle necked stretch of an interstate COMPARED TO total emissions produced by that same car or truck zipping through, at continuos speed, spending only 5 or ten minutes in the same stretch of interstate. And they need a LONG time consuming and expensive air quality analysis to tell them the answer? I guess they need a reason to keep the well-paid bureaucrats and contractors on their payrolls.
It;s no wonder road construction projects take so many years and are so expensive to complete.