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Will Garrisonville become the new choke point where the new southbound express lanes will end on Interstate 95?
A VDOT map of Interstate 95 shows the proposed work zones from Fredericksburg through Alexandria.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 8/29/2012
Clearing up the Dumfries choke point on southbound Interstate 95 has been one of the positives touted by proponents of the new Interstate 95 express lanes.
But what about Garrisonville, which, at least temporarily, will be the new endpoint of the southbound express lanes?
Will I-95 in that area become the new choke point, where nightmarish traffic jams sprout on a daily basis?
No, say Virginia Department of Transportation and Stafford officials.
When the new express lanes are opened, I-95 traffic certainly will move more slowly at Garrisonville--an unavoidable consequence when five lanes become three.
But unlike at Dumfries, where HOV traffic simply funnels onto I-95 from the left, the plans for Garrisonville call for a flyover that is supposed to make for a smoother merge.
"I'm sure that at high travel times it will cause a little bit more of a slowdown than we're used to," said Paul Milde, the Stafford County supervisor who represents the Aquia District. "But in general I'm happy with it."
Construction on the nearly $1 billion express-lanes project started in early August. It will add nine new miles in the median of I-95 that will connect to the already existing lanes at Dumfries. There also will be expansion of the existing HOV lanes north of that point.
The I-95 express lanes, expected to be up and running by the end of 2014, will tie in to the $1.4 billion Interstate 495 express lanes, a project expected to be complete by December or January.
The lanes will carry variable electronic tolls adjusted according to the traffic flow. Cars with at least three people, motorcycles, buses and vanpools will be able to use the lanes for free.
"Overall, commuting time is going to be reduced, and that's a good thing," Milde said. "It's a great step in the right direction."
Steven Titunik, communications director for Virginia Megaprojects, said the design at Garrisonville will help avoid the Dumfries choke-point problems.
The plans call for a flyover where the express lanes end, which drivers headed to Garrisonville and Aquia will be able to use to exit onto State Route 610.
The flyover also will allow traffic from the express lanes to merge from the right onto the main I-95 lanes.
WHAT'S NEW: The project will add nine miles of new lanes in the Interstate 95 median between Dumfries and Garrisonville and expand existing HOV lanes to the north.
HOW THEY'LL WORK: The express lanes will carry a variable electronic toll, requiring all vehicles except motorcycles to have an
TIMELINE: Construction has started, with the lanes scheduled to open by the end of 2014.