Virginia officials are considering a proposal that would reduce car pool restrictions from four to three persons per car on Shirley Highway during rush hours and add a third lane to the expressway.

The additional lane would be created by strengthening the shoulders of I-395 between the Capital Beltway and the Potomac River and repainting traffic lanes, transportation officials said yesterday.

If the plan is approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, officials plan to ask Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.) to secure funding for the project, which would cost $15 million.

Mark Strand, an assistant to Parris, called the plan a "very positive development," and said Parris could obtain federal funding for the project.

"I'm sure that between the state's share and what we can get on the federal level, the funds will be {found}," Strand said.

Strand urged that new car pool rules take effect right away.

"We think we should go ahead with HOV-3 right away and then we'll work on the funding as we go along," he said.

The proposal stands as a solution to an ongoing debate between Parris and the state over car pool restrictions in Parris' 8th Congressional District, which includes Alexandria and the southern half of Fairfax County.

Parris sponsored legislation passed by Congress last year that cut restricted car pool time by 30 minutes. Parris threatened to do the same this year unless restrictions were changed to permit cars with only three people aboard to ride in rush-hour express lanes.

The proposal is scheduled to be discussed today by the state transportation board.