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Preliminary site work underway on 495 NEXT, with no impact expected from GW Parkway rehab

The groundwork is being laid for construction to begin next year on the Capital Beltway Express Lanes’ expansion into McLean.

A surveyor told Tysons Reporter yesterday (Tuesday) that a site boring crew has started collecting soil samples for the I-495 Extension (495 NEXT) project, which will add toll lanes on the interstate from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons to just south of the American Legion Bridge.

The Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed that some preliminary activities have commenced, though the project’s design and construction contract are still in the process of being finalized.

“Early works are approved to proceed and are currently underway along the 495 NEXT project corridor,” VDOT spokesperson Michelle Holland said by email. “These activities include survey work, conducting a tree inventory (which involves marking trees), identifying utility locations, and doing geotechnical borings.”

GW Parkway Rehabilitation Announced

VDOT says it does not expect 495 NEXT to be affected by the National Park Service’s recently unveiled plans to revamp the George Washington Memorial Parkway, even though the projects literally intersect.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, which includes the park service, announced on Dec. 7 that it has awarded a $161 million contract to rehabilitate the parkway’s northern section from Sprout Run in Arlington to the I-495 interchange in McLean.

While the GW Parkway’s southern section has been upgraded in parts over the past three decades, this will be the first major rehabilitation of the eight-mile north section since it opened in 1962. It has been in the works since 1999, per an environmental assessment from March 2008.

After putting the project on hold “due to public and agency concerns,” the NPS restarted the planning process in 2016 and got a revised environmental assessment approved in September 2018, according to project documents.

The GW Parkway rehabilitation will involve:

  • Asphalt pavement reconstruction
  • New concrete curbs
  • Stormwater and drainage work
  • Safety improvements, such as “crash-worthy” roadside barriers
  • Potential reconfiguration of the Route 123 interchange in McLean

The NPS says the design process is expected to take approximately 12 months and will have “minimal impact” on drivers or park visitors.

“Construction, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2025, will impact drivers,” GW Parkway Chief of Staff Aaron LaRocca said. “The NPS is committed to informing the public about those impacts as we get closer to the start of construction.”

No Impacts on 495 NEXT Anticipated

VDOT says its 495 NEXT team has been coordinating with the GW Parkway rehabilitation team for several months, providing input around traffic management and coordination for the two projects.

The parkway team also has representatives on a VDOT technical working group for 495 NEXT that will mitigate traffic congestion during construction, improve safety, and communicate with affected residents, businesses, travelers, and local governments.

“Coordination between the VDOT and NPS teams will continue throughout the duration of both of their respective projects,” VDOT Megaprojects said in a statement emailed to Tysons Reporter. “Generally, we do not anticipate any impacts to our 495 NEXT project from the GW Parkway Rehabilitation project; however, the close coordination between our teams will help us identify and address early-on any potential issues between the two projects.”

The 495 NEXT design is set to be finalized next year, followed by the start of right-of-way acquisitions and construction. The new express lanes are scheduled to open in 2025, though plans to extend the lanes across a rebuilt American Legion Bridge into Maryland remains years behind.

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