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TRIP: Make I-95 widening a top priority

Tuesday - 2/8/2011, 6:32am  ET

I-95_375pixels (Courtesy of VDOT)
If Virginia's roads continue to deteriorate, the state's economy could deteriorate, the report says. (Courtesy of VDOT)
Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - A new study says widening Interstate 95 between D.C. and Richmond should be Virginia's top transportation priority, based primarily on the impact of economic growth and job creation.

But there's a twist.

The Road Information Program, a national transportation research group, says Metro rail to Potomac Mills -- a project first suggested more than 40 years ago -- should also be considered if the widening occurs.

Five of TRIP's top 10 priorities are in Northern Virginia:

  • Construction of the I-95/395 HOT Lanes project (No. 4).
  • Widening I-66 in Prince William and Fairfax counties (No. 7).
  • Completing the Metro extension to Dulles and into Loudoun County (No. 9).
  • Widening Route 29 and adding two lanes on the Bypass at Warrenton (No. 10).

Carolyn Bonifas, a spokeswoman for TRIP, says even with some of those projects underway, billions of dollars needed to do the work remains elusive at both the state and federal levels.

"These improvements are critically important for both state residents and the businesses, for quality of life here in Virginia," Bonfias says.

She says if Virginia's roads continue to deteriorate, the state's economy could suffer in the long term.

"It's important that it remains an attractive place to live, work and do business. Without some of these transportation improvements, that may not be the case," she says.

The report has been released as the Virginia General Assembly debates a $4 billion transportation package this week.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)