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I–95’s problems won’t go away
Ongoing projects such as the Springfield Interchange and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge will not solve all the traffic challenges on Interstate 95.


Date published: 12/13/2004

LET’S BE CLEAR.

Interstate 95 will never again be the free-flowing highway it was in 1964.

Massive projects, like the $676-million overhaul of the Springfield Interchange, will probably improve sections of the road.

But the good old days, when congestion was unheard of, are gone forever.

Web extras
• Interactive time line.
• Photo slide show
• Discuss this series

Interstate 95 in the Fredericksburg area opened Dec. 18, 1964. Today begins a three-day series about the highway and the changes it brought to the region.

SUNDAY: Those who were there at the beginning recall the building and opening of the interstate and the impact it had on them.

MONDAY: The new highway produced new business growth but doomed many stores along the road.

Also, find out about life at the exits.

TUESDAY: I–95 is now clogged much of the time. Are there solutions to this?

Forty years after the highway opened its on-ramps to Fredericksburg residents, the goal of most of the projects along I–95 is to “slow the rate of pain,” as Transportation Commissioner Philip Shucet put it.

“I–95 is going to continue to be stressed as a transportation facility. I think there are a variety of things we can do to help,” he said. “What I don’t believe is we’re going to magically wave a wand and return the level of service on 95 to what it was 40 years ago.”

For one thing, treating the highway’s ills has become more complicated over the years.

When I–95 became overcrowded in the late ’70s, the state widened it to six lanes.

But talk of widening the road to eight lanes has pretty much died down owing to excessive development—and the outrageous cost of right of way—along the highway’s edges.

Nowadays, work along I–95 tends to be more palliative in nature—less about curing the interstate than just making it more comfortable.

So what does the future hold for I–95?

The prescription over the next few years includes a dose of each of the following:

A wider Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

This $2.4 billion construction project, shared by Virginia and Maryland, will widen the existing 43-year-old bridge from six lanes to 12.


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