Story by the Stafford County Sun Staff

STAFFORD, Va. —

Twenty-nine miles of express lanes on Interstate 95 from Stafford to Fairfax County are on their way.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday announced that the Virginia Department of Transportation has agreed along with a group of private-sector companies to build the express lanes, which will run from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to Edsall Road in Fairfax County, with construction beginning early next month and running through late 2014.

The project is estimated to cost $925 million, according to McDonnell’s camp.

“This is a historical day for transportation and the economy inVirginia,” the governor said in a released statement. “In partnering with the private sector, VDOT is leveraging nearly $1 billion dollars in congestion relief for the heavily traveled Northern Virginia region.Virginiais taking bold action to move more people with fewer cars by giving them more transportation choices that will save time and money, and improve the environment. The project will also support nearly 8,000 jobs over the construction period and stimulate $2 billion in economic activity.”

Existing HOV lanes from Dumfries to Edsall Road will be expanded and improved, according to the project plans. New HOV lanes will be extended from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road, which will mean 29 miles of express lanes that three or more people at a time can use free. Vehicles with fewer than three people can either pay a toll to use express lanes or stay in the general purpose lanes free, according to the plan.

VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley, in cooperation with the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships, executed a comprehensive agreement and recently reached financial close with 95 Express Lanes LLC (a joint venture between Transurban DRIVe and Fluor Enterprises, Inc.). The agreement, signed under the Public-Private Transportation Act, allows VDOT to partner with 95 Express, which will make a substantial investment in the project and share in the financial risk of construction and operations.

“The 95 Express Lanes combined with the nearly completed 495 Express Lanes will bring a transportation network that manages congestion efficiently, saving time and better connecting commuters with some of Virginia’s most important employment centers and military sites,” said Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton.

Key components of construction include:

Extending nine miles of existing HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County, which alleviate one of the region’s worst traffic back ups

Expanding existing HOV lanes from two to three lanes for 14 miles betweenPrince William Parkwayto vicinity ofEdsall Roadon I-395

Making operational improvements to the existing two HOV lanes for six miles from Route 234 toPrince William Parkway

Adding eight new or improved access points to and from HOV/HOT network at key interchanges
Expanding and adding commuter parking lots

Tolls will be collected electronically using E-ZPass, including the new E-ZPass Flex, eliminating the need for toll booths

HOV-3+, vanpools, motorcycles and buses travel free. Vehicles with one or two people will pay a toll to use the express lanes or ride the general purpose lanes for free. Tolls will vary based on real-time traffic conditions to manage the number of toll-paying customers who choose to enter the express lanes. Most customers are expected to pay to use express lanes only a couple of times a week when they need a faster trip, with a typical trip during rush hour costing between $5 and $6.

Project will fund a safety and enforcement program including crews to assist disabled vehicles, incident detection technology and more Virginia State Police. The program is expected to significantly reduce HOV violators.

Park and ride lots:

Alongside the 95 Express Lanes, VDOT is delivering new commuter lots, expanding existing lots, and improving access at a number of park and ride lots located in the I-95 corridor.
In 2012, there will be an additional 600 spaces at the Saratoga/EPG park and ride lot in Fairfax County and 700 spaces at the Telegraph Road-Old PRTC bus garage park and ride lot in Prince William County.

By end of 2014, there will be 1,000 spaces at Staffordboro Boulevard in Stafford County and 1,000 spaces in Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania County at Gordon Road. A new 1,000-space garage will be constructed along with the new Potomac Nationals Stadium at Stonebridge in Prince William County.

— From press release

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