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I-95 construction ratcheting up

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Work on the Interstate 95 express lanes project from Garrisonville to the Capital Beltway is about to ratchet up.

And that means more lane closures.

And that means more delays.

But there is some silver lining here—the project has just about reached the halfway point and some of the work will improve the rough pavement in the interstate work zone.

Much of the major work is indeed in the rearview mirror. But Steven Titunik with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Megaprojects said there is a lot left to do.

One indication of a coming increase in work is the planned extension of weekend HOV lane closures.

Beginning tonight and running through October, the existing HOV lanes will be closed on weekends from Dumfries to the Edsall Road exit just north of the beltway. The exceptions will be Columbus Day, Oct. 11, and when the Redskins play home games.

During the weekend HOV closures, the lanes from the Washington, D.C., line to just north of the beltway will remain open.

During the rest of this month, the lanes will close on Friday nights and will stay shut down until Sunday afternoons.

In October, the lanes will continue to be shut down on Friday nights, but will remain closed until 4 a.m. on Mondays.

So, will the lanes be open before the Monday commuter rush?

“I can’t imagine us not being out of the road” before rush hour, Titunik said.

He said the closures are needed because crews will be doing a lot of paving, some of which is aimed at improving I–95 lanes that have been roughed up by the project. As part of that work, crews will also add new lane markings and guardrails.

The closures also will be needed so crews can:

Install sign structure foundations and stormwater management drainage

Pour concrete barriers.

Titunik said they hope to take advantage of what should be better weather in the fall.

The nearly $1 billion express lanes project will add 29 miles of HOV and tolled lanes in the median of I–95, from Garrisonville to the Capital Beltway. Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

 

BUS SERVICE, APP AIMED AT HELPING DRIVERS

A new, free bus service will help some weekend travelers navigate the express lanes construction area along Interstate 95.

Starting Saturday, those headed to the Metro at the Franconia/Springfield station will be able to catch a MetroDirect bus to get there.

You’ll have to drive to Potomac Mills mall or the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Transit Center in Dale City to catch the buses, but that could beat having to drive in traffic to the closest Metro station.

The bus service will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays from Sept. 14 through Dec. 28.

Also, some commuters have a way to make their weekday drives easier.

WeGoMil, a ride-sharing program sponsored by federal, state and local funding, takes a different approach to slugging.

There is a free smartphone app offered as part of the program, geared to make ride-sharing more flexible for Department of Defense employees, many of whose commutes were changed because of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment.

The app allows commuters to find “ride matches,” which are supposed to make finding car- and vanpools easier. The program uses an electronic payment system through which riders pay a fee to defray drivers’ costs.

As part of World Car Free Day observance, WeGoMil is offering $20 gift certificates next week for those who take their first ride using the program. Also, anyone who uses the service next week will have a chance to win an iPad.

—Scott Shenk

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