95 Express Lanes, a Preview

95 Express Lanes, a Preview

All signs point to getting an EZ Pass.

Banners and signs announce the opening of the 95 express lanes along I-95 and Route 1.

Banners and signs announce the opening of the 95 express lanes along I-95 and Route 1. Photos by Abigail Constantino/The Connection

Like a long-awaited summer blockbuster, signs on billboards along Route 1 and banners hanging on bridges that cross I-95, tease commuters about the coming of the nine-mile extension of the 95 express lanes.

The exact opening date has not been released but it will be in December. Preparations for a smooth opening of the lanes, which extend the express lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville, are still ongoing, but the most important thing consumers can do to get ready to use the lanes is to get an EZ Pass, said Mike McGurk of Transurban, the company that manages the tolling system on the express lanes. The second thing commuters should do is to learn the rules--how to use the EZ Pass, how much it will cost, where the entry and exit points are and how the lanes can ease the commute.

McGurk said that they expect some initial confusion when the lanes finally open. “Email or call us if you accidentally get on the the express lanes without an EZ Pass,” he said, and Transurban will work with drivers to resolve the issue. “Don’t panic. Continue driving and exit safely. Call and email us after.”

The $1 billion nine-mile extension was a decade in the making, starting in 2004 with ideas to improve I-95 as part of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act. The project broke ground in August 2012. It will connect Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties. Prince William and Stafford counties are two of the top 10 places from where workers commute, according to the Virginia Community Profile.

In addition to the extension from Dumfries to Garrisonville, construction added a third lane on the section of the express lane between Edsall Road in Alexandria and Prince William Parkway in Dumfries. Fluor, the company which oversaw the project’s construction, also built about one million square feet of new sound walls, nine bridges, and several light poles which contain the tolling and traffic management, said Jamie Breme, community and public affairs manager.

To learn more about the 95 express lanes, go to http://www.95expresslanes.com/.