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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Despite opposition, VDOT begins work on Interstate 95 ramp

The ramp would be parallel to Stevenson Avenue.
Despite the efforts of nearby residents to stop construction of a ramp on Interstate I-95 north of the Edsall Road exit, the Virginia Department of Transportation has begun work on the project.

The ramp will be at the terminus of the I-95 express lanes and would be used by drivers heading toward Washington, D.C., who must transfer from the express lanes to the regular lanes or to the Duke Street exit.

A group residents who live near the ramp in Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria formed a group called Concerned Residents of Landmark to urge VDOT to stop, or at least delay, the ramp project. An environmental study they commissioned determined that traffic backups on I-95 as drivers try to exit the express leans will lead to dangerously high levels of air pollution.

According to the Transportation Nation blog, the City of Alexandria is joining the residents’ opposition to the ramp. It quotes Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg as saying: “Science is convincing, and they had an outside firm that’s very prestigious do this research, and it is very convincing. We are certainly going to make the case from an environmental and health perspective.”

Mary Hasty, one of the founders of Concerned Residents of Landmark, says VDOT accelerated its construction in light of the mounting opposition, but it’s not too late to halt the project. “Even if they’ve driven the piles, when the public health issue comes to light, they can stop,” she told Transportation Nation.

VDOT crews are working 8.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday driving concrete pile foundations in the median area for the new ramp. This part of the project should take three or four weeks. According to VDOT, no lanes will be closed, and the work is not expected to affect traffic.

Once the foundation of the flyover ramp is finished, construction will progress to the right side of I-395 north off the roadway. Work in this area is expected to continue into late spring.

Meanwhile, VDOT reports, the I-95/395 high-occupancy vehicle lanes will remain closed every night, 8 p.m.-5 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and Fridays, 11 p.m.-9 a.m. During daytime construction hours, there will continue to be single lane closures on I-95 southbound lanes 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and northbound 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

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