RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the new Interstate 395 Express Lanes will open on Sunday, November 17. The project extends the Express Lanes by eight miles for seamless connectivity between Fairfax County and Washington, D.C. The expansion gives drivers new options for faster and more predictable travel along one of the region’s most congested corridors and will save drivers an estimated 30 minutes during morning rush hour.
The opening comes just five days after Governor Northam joined Maryland’s Governor to announce the “Capital Beltway Accord,” which will finally replace the aging American Legion Bridge, after years of delay.
“This corridor is the economic backbone of Virginia, and this project will significantly reduce congestion in it,” said Governor Northam. “Sitting in traffic hurts our economy, and it keeps people away from the ones they love. This is about giving commuters new options to get to work and back home faster. This is good for everyone who commutes in Northern Virginia.”
The $475 million project broke ground in August 2017 and is being delivered on time and on budget. It is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Transurban, the current operators of the 95 and 495 Express Lanes. Construction of the project was led by Lane Construction.
“This is the latest example of Virginia’s commitment to provide transportation solutions that work for everyone,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “We have forged partnerships and designed projects that can deliver options for commuters. Virginia carpoolers and buses get the free-flowing travel they deserve, a single commuter can choose to pay for a more reliable trip, and the communities along the 395 Corridor will see consistent, year-over-year investment in transit paid for by toll revenue.”
Transurban has also committed $15 million annually to fund transit improvements across the corridor over the term of the operating contract, with the first payment to be made before tolling begins. Expenditure of these funds will be administered through the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) Commuter Choice Program.
“NVTC, through its Commuter Choice program, will be good stewards of the annual transit payment from Transurban and the I-395 Express Lanes, selecting the best transit projects to move people efficiently and reliably through the corridor now and in the future,” said Kate Mattice, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission Executive Director.
Benefits of the 395 Express Lanes project include:
- Funding $15 million per year from toll revenues for transit investments along the 95/395 corridor;
- Adding another lane to give drivers three free-flowing, reversible lanes that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
- Providing a new travel choice for Express Lane customers and easing congestion on the adjacent free lanes;
- Delivering a new bus and a new “slugger” commuter lane at the Pentagon’s South Parking lot to enhance traffic flow, which opened in June 2019;
- Improving access to the Pentagon and Crystal City through interchange improvements at Eads Street;
- Rehabilitating 14 bridges in the 395 corridor; and
- Widening southbound 395 with a new regular lane between Duke Street and Edsall Road, to be completed in summer 2020.
“Transurban is proud of the historic collaboration that came together to deliver the 395 Express Lanes,” said Jennifer Aument, President of Transurban North America. “This project would not have been possible without the enduring vision of the Commonwealth and the countless advocates and stakeholders across Northern Virginia. We’ve joined forces to provide the region with a dynamic, integrated network of travel choices that will ensure Virginia is on the move and we are working minute-to-minute to ensure a safe and seamless trip for our new customers on the 395 Express Lanes.”
Once the 395 Express Lanes are open for customers, construction will continue to finish drainage improvements north of Eads Street, rehabilitate bridges at Seminary Road and Shirlington Circle, continue construction of the Duke Street to Edsall Road widening, and complete sound wall construction. Construction impacts will include lane closures during weekends and non-peak travel times.
The 395 Express Lanes will operate similarly as the 95 and 495 Express Lanes and join an expanding network that will include an additional 10 miles of Express Lanes now under construction on 95 to Fredericksburg. With ongoing construction in the corridor and new traffic patterns resulting from completed work, project partners remind drivers to be safe, put phones down, and learn about changes that may impact travel while acclimating to the improved corridor.