A stretch of southbound Interstate 95 is set to double in size this week as crews wrap up three years’ work on the first phase of the Rappahannock River crossing projects.
Three new lanes and a new bridge over the Rappahannock River are scheduled to open to traffic on Wednesday at 2 p.m., local Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Darragh Frye said in a news release. A new overpass at U.S. 17 in Stafford County also will be opened that day.
The opening will create a drastic change to the traffic pattern, dividing southbound I–95 traffic in Stafford, with three lanes for through-traffic and three lanes for local traffic.
VDOT created a video simulation of how traffic will flow through the new zone.
The southbound traffic will be divided just south of Centreport Parkway in Stafford. At that point, intestate traffic heading through the Fredericksburg area will stay in the left three lanes. Traffic heading to the U.S. 17 interchange, the rest area and Virginia Welcome Center, or the State Route 3 interchange in Fredericksburg will stay in right lane.
The separated interstate lanes will merge south of Route 3 in Spotsylvania County.
Before the new lanes and bridge open, there will be closures on the interstate that will cause significant delays Tuesday night and Wednesday, Frye said in the news release.
Lane closures between Centreport and Route 3 are scheduled to be in place during a 19-hour stretch, from 7 p.m. Tuesday through 2 p.m. Wednesday. During that time, crews will be milling and paving the roadway and uncovering overhead signs that will guide traffic through the new zone.
When the new zone opens, work will continue on some of the new lanes and exit ramps.
The exit to U.S. 17 will remain a single lane, with the loop ramps remaining closed until the end of the year. Temporary traffic signals on U.S. 17 will manage exiting traffic. When the work is complete, the exit lanes to U.S. 17 will be expanded to two lanes and the ramp to southbound I–95 will widened to two lanes.
Local I–95 traffic not exiting at U.S. 17 will continue south where the lanes will expand to three prior to reaching the bridge over the Rappahannock River. That traffic will be able to exit at the rest area, onto Route 3, or continue to the merge with the mainline lanes.
That new stretch of I–95 for local traffic will not be fully opened immediately. For an estimated three to four weeks, crews will continue work at the Route 3 interchange, which will keep some of the local I–95 lanes closed beyond Cowan Boulevard.
When that work is complete, all three local I–95 lanes will be open, running south to the merge with the mainline interstate lanes.
The $132 million crossing project started on the southbound side of I–95 in August 2018. If the project is fully completed by December, it will be five months ahead of schedule, VDOT said.
Work on the northbound crossing project started in the summer of 2020. The three new lanes on that side of I–95 are slated to open in early 2024.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436