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How VDOT's latest mega project, I-395 at Seminary Road, will affect your commute

Tuesday - 8/26/2014, 11:29am  ET

The mega road projects consuming Interstates 95 and 395 do not end at Edsall Road.

A second project now underway, immediately north of where the I-95 Express Lanes end, will bring additional congestion relief to the Washington area’s busiest stretch of highway, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Interstate 395 at Seminary carries roughly 200,000 vehicles per day.

For regular commuters, the ongoing work is hard to miss.

Beginning at the Duke Street on ramp to northbound I-395, VDOT, with contractor Archer Western Construction LLC, is extending the auxiliary lane to the Seminary Road exit .8 miles to the north, eliminating the often-ugly downhill merge from Duke Street onto the highway. Clearing operations are nearly complete. The new lane is expected to open in December, at roughly the same time the Express Lanes open to the south.

In the HOV lanes, meanwhile, VDOT will construct a reversible ramp onto Seminary Road, mainly to serve the 6,400-employee Mark Center, home to the Washington Headquarters Service. Per VDOT, the new lane and ramp will ”provide easier access to the Department of Defense’s Mark Center and will help improve traffic flow along I-395 North.”

The 1.75 million-square-foot, 17-story Mark Center opened in 2011 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Virginia originally sought to extend the I-95 Express Lanes to the Pentagon to serve the building, as the Mark Center is not Metrorail accessible, but Arlington County sued and the plan was nixed. The ramp was the next best option. It cleared a key environmental hurdle in 2012, and the Archer contract was awarded in April 2013.

The $80 million project — $60 million for the ramp, $20 million for the auxiliary lane — will also include a new pedestrian bridge over I-395 at Seminary Road, a rehabilitated Seminary Bridge, a widened Sanger Bridge, new concrete sound walls, new storm drainage systems and additional lighting. Lanes on 395 will occasionally close for construction, overnight and between rush hours, and the Seminary Bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction beginning next month.

Prepare accordingly.

VDOT, which hosted a community meeting on the project Monday, is eying a September 2015 opening for the HOV ramp.

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