Weekend warning: I-95 South overnight shutdowns in Northern Virginia


Near Garrisonville Road, the 95 Express Lanes are under construction in the median of I-95. (Trevor Wrayton/VDOT)

[This post has been updated.]

For summertime commuters and people launching vacation getaways, no road work zone deserves as much monitoring as the 29-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia where the 95 Express Lanes are under construction.

The project got underway in August 2012 and won’t be done till the end of 2014, but this summer and fall represent the peak of construction activity. About 1,500 people are on the job, which stretches from Garrisonville Road near Quantico to just inside the Capital Beltway.

On Sunday’s Commuter page in the Post Metro section, I plan to give you an overview of what to expect from this drive during the summer. But since many of you are planning your weekend now, here’s an alert about the overnight shutdowns on I-95 South scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights:

Starting at 9:30 each night., the Virginia Department of Transportation plans to close lanes on I-95 South from Dumfries Road (Exit 152) to Joplin Road (Exit 150). The initial single lane closing will progress to a full shutdown of the southbound lanes. The full closing is scheduled to last from 1 to 4 a.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 a.m. Sunday.

During the closings, crews will place steel beams for a new bridge that will carry traffic from the future express lanes in the median to the right side of I-95 South near Joplin Road.

Detour

Southbound traffic will be directed off I-95 at Exit 152A onto Dumfries Road (Route 234), then onto Route 1 South to Joplin Road (Route 619) and back to I-95 South. One lane on Route 1 South also will be closed before Dumfries Road to accommodate detour traffic.

VDOT estimates the traffic delays at up to 20 minutes from 9:30 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m., Sunday. That includes the time for workers to set up and take down the lane closings.

When we talk about summer getaways, my standard advice to drivers is to leave early or late. But here’s a case when I need to refine that recommendation. This is a complex project that includes nightly lane closings Mondays through Saturdays and during the day on Saturdays throughout the summer. A similar detour will be in place the weekend of July 19 for steel placement at Telegraph Road in Quantico. During those events, drivers may encounter the most congestion during the early parts, when the lanes are being closed in sequence and traffic is squeezing down. Once the full shutdown and the detour are in effect, drivers may find the traffic eases up.

One way to stay in touch with the latest road work plans is to sign up for electronic alerts about the 95 Express Lanes project by following this link. I-95 commuters can get information about making alternative travel plans on Virginia’s GetAroundVA Web page.

[12:30 p.m. update.]
In addition to the southbound shutdown of the regular lanes, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced another weekend closing of the HOV lanes as part of this project. From 11 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday, and again from 11 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday the HOV lanes on I-395/95 are scheduled to close from the D.C. line to their end at Dumfries Road (Route 234).

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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