Mixing Bowl Bridge and I-66 Widening Near Manassas Nearly Done

By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 17, 2006

Changes are in store for Virginia drivers as major construction projects are set to wrap up soon in Springfield and the Manassas area.

Next month, the Virginia Department of Transportation plans to open a massive bridge linking the northbound lanes of Interstate 395 and the inner loop of the Capital Beltway.

Officials said the bridge, which should be open by mid-September, and perhaps earlier, is the last major hurdle they face as they sew up the eight-year, $700 million project to rebuild the Springfield interchange. They expect to have the entire project completed by the summer of 2007.

"This is the homestretch," said VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris.

"We still have a good deal of work to do, but it's all coming together. . . . The end is finally in sight."

The bridge will replace the section of the traffic cloverleaf that now takes motorists headed north on I-395 to I-495 north.

The bridge, officials said, is a major step toward untangling the traffic that gave the Mixing Bowl its reputation for dangerous, high-speed merges.

"In the past when you got to the Springfield interchange, [all the vehicles] made it feel like someone was stuffing 10 pounds into a five-pound bag," said project spokesman Steve Titunik. "What we've done here is to separate out local and long-distance traffic. . . . We're trying to de-mix things. We're trying to separate traffic instead of bottlenecking it."

Also expected to be completed soon is a widened 3.8-mile stretch of Interstate 66 in Prince William County, a critical improvement that has been under construction since August 2004.

By the end of October, motorists should have two new lanes in each direction on I-66 between Route 234/Sudley Road and the Route 234 bypass/Prince William Parkway. The section is being widened from two to four lanes in each direction.

The far left lanes will be reserved for vehicles carrying two or more people eastbound from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. and westbound from 3 to 7 p.m.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring to widen I-66 for 5.4 miles from the Route 234 bypass to Route 29 in the Gainesville area. When completed, that section of I-66 will have three regular lanes and one HOV lane in each direction. Construction is expected to take four years.

Additionally, University Boulevard -- a new four-lane road connecting Wellington Road to Route 29 in Prince William -- will open to traffic Aug. 28. Work began in December 2004 on the 1.3-mile link.

Transportation officials say the road will give motorists headed for Wellington Road or the Nissan Pavilion an alternate route to and from I-66 so they can avoid traffic jams in the Gainesville area.

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