The new HOV-3 ramp set to open today Jan 12, 2015 is guaranteed to save time for the Mark Center commuters. HOV traffic exiting to the Pentagon also may get some relief as this new ramp may take some of the traffic that exits at the Pentagon and circle back to the Mark Center.

I-395 HOV ramp to Mark Center

I-395 is the first reversible High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes build in 1969, it was initially built for buses and then evolved into HOV-4 and then to HOV-3. I-395 is one of the best investments that the federal government made, it moves 14% more people in 2 HOV lanes compared to the 4 general purpose lanes.

In 2005 the BRAC realignment approved by the congress mandated the move of many DoD offices from leased office space to secure sites that could meet DoD’s security standards. As a part of BRAC initiative, the Mark Center was built in 2012 by the federal government to house about 7000 staff with about 2800 parking spaces.

To elevate the peak hour traffic caused by the new Mark Center, DoD invested $20 Million to construct short-term improvements along Seminary Road and enhanced public bus transportation. VDoT invested additional $76 Million to build 0.8 miles of reversible HOV-3 ramp from I-395 HOV lanes to seminary road, an auxiliary lane on I-395 north, bike trail and other developments along Seminary road. Construction of the HOV ramp began in March 2014 and is set to open on January 12, 2015. These lanes are expected to carry over 500 high occupancy vehicles during peak hours alone. This includes the Mark Center traffic as well as other regional traffic.

Today there are about 300 commuters slugging into the Mark Center from Woodbridge, Stafford and Fredericksburg, mostly coordinated by email groups restricted for Mark Center staff. There is also a designated staging area for slugging along the north parking garage entrance on Mark Center Dr.  Eventually, slugging is expected to grow as drivers possibly drop of slugs at the Mark Center and take off to nearby destinations like they do at the Pentagon. Unlike the Pentagon where Metro rail and buses are available, the Mark Center is served by limited public bus service that can take slugs to nearby work locations.