The Bulletin

Fredericksburg I-95 extension set to open to drivers Thursday

By: - August 17, 2023 12:03 am

Construction on the I-95 Fredericksburg extension project. (Transurban)

Ten more miles of express lanes on Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia will open to traffic Thursday night, making the roughly 50-mile stretch between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers the nation’s longest reversible road, according to transportation officials. 

“This 10-mile segment is known to be among the most congested in the nation,” said Mike Discenza, acting president of express lane operator Transurban North America, during a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday.  With over 150,000 vehicles traveling the corridor on average daily, morning rush hour speeds often fall to under 20 miles per hour, he said.


Designed to combat that congestion, Virginia’s I-95 express lanes require drivers to pay tolls linked to current traffic loads, which are assessed every 10 minutes. When traffic is light, tolls are low, with costs rising as congestion increases. Traffic loads also dictate the direction of the road, which can be reversed depending on whether northbound or southbound flows are more sluggish.

“We can actually change directions and make sure that we are customizing to the flow of traffic,” said Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 

Not subject to the fees: buses, carpoolers and motorcycles.

The Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, which have been working on the $670 million project since 2019 through a public-private partnership, have estimated the extension will add 66% more traffic capacity to Interstate 95 during peak periods and could save drivers up to 35 minutes in travel time.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller called the extension “the biggest investment … in I-95 in the region since the interstate was widened from three lanes in the 1980s.” 

The work is a little less than a year behind schedule and above its initial cost estimate of $565 million. Originally intended to be done by October 2022, a dispute over soil conditions between Transurban and contractors Branch Civil and Flatiron Construction, delayed completion. 

Transurban has a long history in Virginia, where it began operating toll lanes along Interstates 95 and 495 more than a decade ago. The Fredericksburg extension was negotiated as part of a $1 billion deal between the company and Virginia in 2019.


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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.