The wintry weather may reinforce the calendar's declaration of February, but Steve Titunik's mind is set firmly on July.
Titunik, a Virginia Department of Transportation employee serving as the information director for the Springfield Interchange project, has been overseeing completion of the roadway for the past seven years. But as time begins to wind down on the $676 million road improvement work, it’s a matter of tying up loose ends.
Last weekend’s work on I-395 Northbound was one of the last large inconveniences for local drivers, Titunik said, as drivers were shifted to the left of the normal lane alignment to allow for work on two overpass bridges on the highway.
“We hope to open a new ramp for I-495 Eastbound to 395 North within the next week or two,” Titunik said. Aided by a warm winter, work on what Titunik calls the “finishing touches” has continued over the past few months, meaning the project will be finished by the time the July deadline comes around.
“Next week, we’ll be hanging signs for the new overpasses,” he said. “We have to wait until we have a few 50 degree days in a row to do the lane painting or the paint will freeze.”
The new ramp to 395 North from the Mixing Bowl will be on the right side of the highway, Titunik said, and the existing left-side exit will close.
“Traffic for 395 South is much straighter now and we hope to do the same for drivers heading north,” he said.
Other remaining work includes:
* Construction of the ramp from Commerce Street to the Inner Loop of I-495 toward Tysons Corner. A ramp joining eastbound drivers to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge was completed late last year.
* A ramp connecting Springfield drivers on Franconia Road to I-395 will open this summer. The ramp will be built north of the Beltway, which should make for easier merging onto the main road.
* A ramp to Franconia and Old Keene Mill Roads from eastbound 495 will re-open this summer. Local drivers will be able to use the right-side exit that was closed when the fly-over ramp to I-95 South opened last year once the lanes have been re-paved and repainted.
Once the Mixing Bowl is completed, work may begin on the installation of High Occupancy Toll lanes around the Beltway, Titunik said. Negotiations are still in process between VDOT and Transurban Fleur, a company which has installed toll lanes on major highways in New York and California, along with the Pocahontas Parkway around Richmond. Once an agreement is reached, the HOT lanes proposal will have to go through the standard public hearing process before work can begin, Titunik said.