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Work near Quantico on new express lanes makes driving on Interstate 95 even more trying and unpredictable.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 1/13/2013
It doesn't take much to throw a wrench into the weekday commute on Interstate 95, a place where something as innocuous as a broken-down car can cause miles of backups.
So how about that billion-dollar behemoth express lanes project that snakes along nearly 30 miles of interstate median from Prince William County south to Garrisonville?
Some five months into the project, which will add two lanes of electronically tolled express lanes to I-95, interstate drivers can see that most of the median has been denuded of trees.
And commuters now see just how trying the next two years or so are going to be.
Their response to the construction work at this point ranges from acceptance to annoyance and anger.
Some say the work zone could be managed better.
Others say drivers just need to pay better attention.
Virginia Department of Transportation officials say the project has caused nothing more than the expected delays and headaches typical of a major project. While construction is just getting started, VDOT isn't far removed from the even bigger project--the much-more-complex express lanes on Interstate 495.
Those lanes opened in November. The new I-95 express lanes are expected to open in late 2014.
Ed Herbert, a defense contractor who has been carpooling and riding a motorcycle in the HOV lanes since 2000, said the project has caused serious damage to the pavement in those lanes.
He also said the drive is dangerous because of the work zone. Besides the rough road, he said, the temporary pavement markings cause confusion, and the loss of shoulder lanes makes the drive even more hazardous.
"It makes accidents more prone to happen," said Herbert. He figures he sees a crash a day during his commute to Washington.
Some commuters agree with Herbert. Others say it's not such a big deal and that it's a driver's responsibility to navigate the trip safely.
Sgt. Les Tyler of the Virginia State Police said authorities haven't noticed any increase in crashes or anything unexpected in the work zone. There have been crashes, he said, but none caused by the project itself.
Tyler said troopers have had to adjust to the loss of shoulder space since the jersey walls were installed along the median, but they haven't had any noticeable problems.