I-95 Express Lanes

A new study will aim to pinpoint congestion solutions for I–95.

Even with all of the work in recent years and more major projects underway on Interstate 95, it still can prove nightmarish for travelers between Fredericksburg and Washington, D.C.

Now, a study will look for ways to fix the chronically congested interstate corridor.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine announced the study at last week’s Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting.

According to a release, the CTB will conduct the study, with help from the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia State Police, in an effort “to identify priorities as well as potential revenue sources that could be dedicated to improvements.”

The study resulted from two resolutions this year sponsored by Del. Mark Cole, R–Spotsylvania, aiming to develop a strategic plan to deal with congestion along the interstate corridor.

“I–95 is one of the most complex transportation corridors in our Commonwealth,” Valentine said in the release. “This study creates an opportunity to examine the use and needs of I–95 with the goals of relieving congestion, increasing safety, and advancing Virginia’s economic competitiveness.”

More than $1 billion in projects have been approved for the corridor.

Among those projects are the Rappahannock River crossings, which will add three collector-distributor lanes on both sides of the interstate between State Route 3 and U.S. 17, and the 10-mile express lanes extension between U.S. 17 and North Stafford.

Regardless of the work completed in recent years, traffic often overwhelms the corridor, especially during the commuter rushes and on weekends in the summer.

In 2017, a stretch of I–95 in Stafford County was tabbed the worst traffic hotspot in America by INRIX Roadway Analytics, which operates a “cloud-based” traffic data platform on vehicles across the U.S. and the globe.

In a presentation to the CTB last week, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Transportation said the study would be similar to the one completed late last year on the Interstate 81 corridor.

That study resulted in a $2 billion package of projects. The study also identified methods to raise revenue for the work, including a truck tax, diesel tax and a regional fuels tax. The revenues will go toward projects on the I–81 corridor, but will also be distributed elsewhere, including to the I–95 corridor.

While the I–95 study will seek to identify funding for projects, Donohue told the CTB not to expect similar revenue streams as the I–81 study.

Donohue added that while the study will focus on the area between Spotsylvania and Washington, it also will cover the entire stretch of the interstate running through the state.

“This is probably one of our most complex corridors in the Commonwealth,” he said. “It is highway, it is rail, transit, all modes of transportation.”

Public meetings will be held to help determine the direction the study should take.

The first meeting where the study will be discussed will take place in Fredericksburg.

That May 9 meeting at James Monroe High School is one of many the CTB is hosting across the state to discuss transportation projects approved for funding.

The CTB plans to report the study’s findings to the General Assembly in December, prior to the beginning of the 2020 legislative session.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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