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Will express lanes give North Stafford economy a lift?


The $1 billion Interstate 95 express lanes project that started last week is expected to have a modestly positive effect on Stafford County economic development.

The project will run from Garrisonville Road in North Stafford to Edsall Road in Fairfax County. Transurban DRIVe and Fluor Enterprises Inc. will build and oversee the 29 miles of express lanes, which will carry a variable electronic toll except for vehicles with three or more people, motorcycles, buses and vanpools.

The state will pay about $71 million for the project, while Transurban and Fluor will foot the other $854 million. The project, which aims to lessen congestion on I–95, is slated to be finished by the end of 2014.

In a ceremony marking the official start, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the project will support thousands of direct and indirect construction jobs for localities along the Interstate 95 corridor—including an estimated 900 in Stafford—and lead to about $1.5 billion in economic activity during the two years of work.

Some of North Stafford’s most prominent developers don’t expect the longer-term economic impact to be dramatic or immediate, but they do think it will be relatively positive.

“Anything to help the I–95 congestion is a positive step in the right direction,” said David Newman, a vice president for the Silver Cos. Newman is overseeing leasing efforts for Silver at the Quantico Corporate Center, which is just off I–95 about five miles north of Garrisonville.

The construction jobs should lead to a mild economic boost for the local retail sector, said Andy Garrett, whose Garrett Cos. company has developed many office properties along the Garrisonville corridor. Garrett thinks the impact on the commercial office sector will be negligible.

The project could boost Stafford’s residential market, which might eventually lead to gains in retail and office, said Doug Stewart, a Fredericksburg-area financial adviser who has real estate investments along Garrisonville Road.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405