WASHINGTON — When drivers in Northern Virginia decide to use the I-95 Express Lanes, most are willing to pay a toll in exchange for a smooth trip and free-flowing traffic. But some of these drivers have encountered the opposite — bumper-to-bumper traffic that some say is much worse than in the regular lanes.
With the warmer weather in recent weeks, the volume of traffic on I-95 has been steadily increasing. Friday afternoons are the busiest travel period on the interstate. To the dismay of late-week drivers in the Express Lanes, a long delay has formed over the past several Friday afternoons in Quantico. The backup leads to the southern end of the Express Lanes, where an elevated ramp deposits traffic into the main lanes of I-95 before the highway’s interchange at Route 610.
Last Friday, this queue was over seven miles long by midafternoon, beginning near Dumfries, Virginia. Some who drove the lanes said they waited for more than an hour in an exit-less stretch through the Quantico Marine Base just for an opportunity to escape. Most agreed that the drivers in the main lanes were making better time.
One driver put it this way: “I feel ripped off.” Liz commutes from Fredericksburg to Reston using the Express Lanes on I-95 and I-495 every day. She was quick to express her frustration as she inched through the recurring Friday afternoon traffic jam several weeks ago.
“I’m paying the highest price right now, probably, because of the amount of volume … and I’m going a fraction of the pace of the mainline. I bowl in a bowling league and I thought I’d be home by seven o’clock, but now I probably won’t be home until eight at the earliest.”
Mike McGurk, with TransUrban, the developer and operator of the 95 Express Lanes, says he is aware of the delay: “It’s the Friday getaway traffic that’s compounding it.” – WTOP Sprawl and Crawl
Is this the future of I-66 as well? What does the new I-95 Express Lanes experience tell us about what I-66 might be like approaching the Beltway? Unlike I-95, the proposed I-66 transformation will remove a free lane at peak hours, which is now open with a green arrow.