Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined in a ground-breaking ceremony Aug. 9 with the Virginia Department of Transportation and private company Transurban to start construction of an
eight-mile extension of tolled Interstate 395 Express Lanes from near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. border.
"The project provides more options for faster and more reliable travel in one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the country and expands the region's network of express lanes," said the governor's announcement.
It said that project includes a long-term investment in transit for the corridor through a yearly payment of $15 million (to be escalated annually) by Transurban to support transit and multimodal initiatives that benefit the corridor.
"Anyone who travels on I-395 and I-95 today can attest that this is one of the most congested corridors in the country," said McAuliffe. "Today's groundbreaking is the first project of the commonwealth's larger Atlantic Gateway Initiative which aims to unlock the I-95 Corridor."
He added: "The Atlantic Gateway Initiative and the I-395 project demonstrate how we can work with our public and private partners to improve the quality of life for Virginians and our visitors – and keep our new Virginia economy growing."
Aubrey Layne, Virginia's secretary of transportation, said the ground-breaking "is one more step toward expanding the express lanes network in northern Virginia, and providing travelers with much-needed travel choices to reach their destinations faster. The key benefit continues to be options, and we are ready to focus on delivering this new choice on 395."
AECOM Engineering and Lane Construction are under contract to Transurban to design and build the extended I-395 Express Lanes. The new lanes are scheduled to open in the fall of 2019, and other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020.
Construction will occur largely within VDOT's right-of-way, the announcement said. Preliminary work such as geotechnical investigations and surveying began last March.
Backers say the project, which is expected to cost about $500 million and be paid for by a combination of private and public funds, will also provide specific benefits for thousands of commuters who work at or near the Pentagon plus for carpoolers or commuter bus users who transfer at the Pentagon.
The work includes reconstructing the Pentagon's south parking area, and adding new bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle commuter and "slug" lanes to improve traffic flow and safety for buses and carpools.
Other project features include adding a fourth regular lane on I-395 South between the Duke Street and Edsall Road interchanges, to help relieve congestion that now occurs when I-395 shrinks from four to three lanes in that area.
Additionally, the project includes rehabilitating several I-395 bridges, and building new sound walls to protect neighboring communities from highway noise.
Jennifer Aument, Transurban's group general manager for North America, said that "crews will begin work right away on improvements that are going to help drivers on I-395 get home faster, while also generating funds to support new transit options. As construction begins, we encourage all travelers to stay alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and keep an eye out for workers on the road."