Tysons, VA

With a public hearing next month, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is hosting a pair of meetings to discuss a plan to extend the I-495 Express Lanes.

The change would extend the existing express lanes from the interchange of I-495 and the Dulles Toll Road up to the American Legion Bridge, already a notorious regional bottleneck for traffic.

The express lanes have tolls that range from 20 cents per mile to $1.25 per mile during rush hour with no official cap. Cars with three or more people do not have to pay the toll.

The goal of the project is to add capacity to the roads and reduce congestion on the Virginia side of the bridge, as well as reducing cut-through traffic

VDOT is hosting meetings from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, and on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Each meeting is designed as a Q&A with staff following a presentation about the upcoming plans.

The meetings precede a presentation of findings from the environmental assessment and preliminary design plans in a virtual public hearing on Monday, Oct. 5 from 7-9:30 p.m. and an in-person (by appointment) hearing at the McLean Community Center on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 4-8 p.m.

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Late night drivers around Tysons may experience some detours this weekend and next week if they travel around the interchange connecting I-66 and I-495 near Merrifield.

“Overnight lane closures and traffic stoppages are planned on I-66 West approaching Gallows Road during overnight hours Friday, September 11; Saturday, September 12; and Monday, September 14, through Wednesday, September 16, as bridge beam installation continues for the new Gallows Road Bridge over I-66,” VDOT said in a press release. “Bridge beam lifts over I-66 West will require nightly traffic stoppages of up to 20 minutes on I-66 West. Work is part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.”

Gallows Road over I-66 will also be reduced to a single lane in each direction overnight Friday-Tuesday.

The Gallows Road bridge is being lengthened, widened, raised, and shifted to the east to accommodate the new express lanes and provide room for future improvements along Gallows Road, according to VDOT.

“Drivers should expect delays if traveling in this area and are encouraged to use alternate routes,” VDOT said.

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Updated 11:15 a.m. — The VDOT in-person meeting will be held on Oct. 8, not Oct.7. 

As traffic congestion increases on I-495, the McLean Citizens Association approved a resolution at last night’s meeting in support of a project to add express lanes.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is considering the express lanes as part of an expansion along the highway in McLean leading up to the American Legion Bridge

The changes, as they stand, would extend the I-495 Express Lanes north from the I-495 and Dulles Access Road interchange up to the American Legion Bridge and add two new tolled express lanes in each direction.

Discussion during MCA’s meeting last night on the express lanes focused on environmental concerns and the Maryland Department of Transporation’s plans to update its side of the bridge.

When it comes to environmental factors, the proposed changes would destroy 118 acres of trees and interfere with Scott Run’s Nature Preserve along with the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, according to the proposal.

Yet another concern with the removal of trees would be the elimination of sound and visual barriers for some McLean residents, a board member said.

To minimize harm to the trees, MCA requested in the resolution that VDOT conduct a study to determine the species of trees that will be removed and that VDOT tries to minimize harm to healthy and established foliage, like having a replanting program.

Additionally, the project currently does not have a stormwater management plan, despite evidence that watersheds and drainage ponds would be interrupted.

The MCA indicated conditional support for the project as long as VDOT address these issues and make amends for potential damage.

“[The] greatest impact of the project will fall on the Scott’s Run Nature Preserve and GW Parkway. And every effort should be made to minimize the footprint of the facility and avoid temporary use of parkland during construction,” an MCA board member said at the meeting. 

In terms of MDOT’s involvement with the project, many board members expressed concern about misalignment with the state’s timelines.

For example, the VDOT 495 NEXT project is expected to be completed years before MDOT improves the American Legion Bridge and the portion of I-495 between the GW Parkway and I-270, according to the resolution.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said earlier this year that timeline misalignment would be a “huge” mistake.

Still, VDOT predicts that Virginia’s part of the work will reduce cut-thru traffic on local roads, increase I-495’s capacity and improve travel time on I-495 — even if Maryland doesn’t do anything, the resolution said.

Despite barriers and concerns, MCA Transportation Committee Chair David Wuehrmann suggested at the meeting that other board members vote in support of the resolution.

“If you’re not inclined to vote for this, you need to think about what will replace it,” he said, noting the importance of congestion relief on I-495.

Inevitably, the resolution passed last night by a 25-5 vote from the MCA board members.

Going forward, VDOT is scheduled to have an online public hearing on Oct. 5 and an in-person meeting on Oct. 8, according to an MCA board member.

Wuehrmann said that the MCA now has three goals when it comes to the 495 NEXT project — to reaffirm support for the project, encourage VDOT to commit to environmental relief and work toward congestion relief at the American Legion Bridge and connecting roads.

Image via Google Maps

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A multi-vehicle crash along eastbound I-66 right before I-495 is causing major traffic for several miles.

“The East left lane, center lane and right lane are closed,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Drivers can expect delays for two miles, according to a Fairfax County alert sent out at 4 p.m.

Image via VDOT, map via Google Maps

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meeting in McLean on the plans to extend the 495 Express Lanes is being rescheduled to a date in April, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

The meeting was originally set for tonight (Thursday) at Langley High School.

VDOT announced the meeting’s postponement this morning, after saying yesterday that it would be live streamed and filmed.

Several residents raised concerns about the meeting earlier this week, worrying that it could increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

VDOT is planning to present the results of the 495 NEXT environmental study and traffic analysis, along with hearing feedback and questions from the public.

Currently, the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension project — a.k.a. 495 NEXT — would extend the 495 Express Lanes north from the I-495 and Dulles Access Road interchange up to the American Legion Bridge and add two new tolled express lanes in each direction.

“The meeting will be rescheduled for April,” VDOT said. “Details will be provided next week.”

People can submit comments either online, by email, by mail or at the future meeting.

Image via Google Maps

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Updated 3/12/2020 — VDOT announced that the meeting will be postponed to a date in April.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. — A Dranesville District Supervisor email this evening says that the meeting will be live streamed. 

Earlier: For people avoiding meetings to prevent the coronavirus, an upcoming meeting on the plans to extend the 495 Express Lanes will be filmed.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is set to present the results of the I-495 NEXT environmental study and traffic analysis on Thursday, March 12.

The meeting is scheduled to last from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike). People will have a chance to provide comments and ask questions after the presentation at 7 p.m.

VDOT said in an email today (Wednesday) that the video of the meeting will be available online starting Monday (March 16).

Currently, the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension project — a.k.a. 495 NEXT — would extend the 495 Express Lanes north from the I-495 and Dulles Access Road interchange up to the American Legion Bridge and add two new tolled express lanes in each direction.

People will have through April 15 to submit comments either online, at the public hearing, by email or by mail.

“Questions or requests for more information can be emailed to [email protected] virginia.gov, and a project representative will respond,” VDOT said.

VDOT said that the meeting would be rescheduled if Fairfax County Public Schools close. If inclement weather happens, the meeting would get moved to next Wednesday, March 18.

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Commuters can expect delays today at the I-495 and I-66 interchange following a tractor-trailer crash early this morning.

The tractor-trailer overturned on I-66, spilling metal debris onto the ramp from northbound I-495 to I-66, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. The debris punctured another truck, causing a hazmat situation and closures around 4 a.m., VDOT said.

While the ramp from northbound I-495 to I-66 has reopened, VDOT said that commuters this morning will be impacted.

As of 9:10 a.m., drivers can expect delays eastbound on I-66 and two-mile-long backups near I-495, according to VDOT.

“The ramp from I-66 East to I-495 North is partially blocked,” VDOT said. “The ramp from I-495 North to I-66 West is partially blocked.”

Meanwhile, drivers heading north on I-495 can expect traffic congestion and backups stretching about two miles.

Map via Google Maps

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Commuters can expect delays today on I-495 south of Leesburg Pike (Route 7) while truck fire clean-up is underway.

As of 9:43 a.m., the south right outside lane and right shoulder are closed, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

VDOT said that drivers can expect delays. As of 10 a.m., traffic is heavy on I-495 between Leesburg Pike and I-66.

Lauren DeMarco, a Fox 5 reporter, tweeted a video of the traffic back-up and firefighters and medics on the scene around 10:30 p.m. on Monday.

The video captured firefighters working to extinguish the truck fire.

WTOP reported this morning that clean-up is underway.

https://twitter.com/WTOPtraffic/status/1237369269752680448?s=20

Map via Google Maps

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Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said he’s supportive of plans to extend the express lanes on I-495, but has major concerns about the timing of the project with Maryland’s piece.

The I-495 Northern Extension Project would expand express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, replace overpasses and noise walls and add a shared-use path. The project could save drivers up to 25 minutes during peak-hour commute times, according to the presentation given at the meeting.

Toll revenues are expected to support the cost of the project, according to the presentation.

Maryland is currently evaluating its options to rebuild and widen the American Legion Bridge, Susan Shaw, from the Virginia Department of Transportation, told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Preliminarily, construction could start on Virginia’s portion of the project in 2021 and take three years to finish, Shaw said.

“Obviously, solving the congestion issues at the American Legion bridge are just absolutely essential that we do that,” Foust said at the Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday. “This project doesn’t solve the congestion problems.”

While Foust said that the project is a “necessary piece of the puzzle that will do that,” he said that most of the relief will come from increasing capacity and widening the Beltway from Maryland.

Foust said he thinks it would be a “huge mistake” to start the Virginia part of the project before it can get aligned with Maryland’s timeframe.

“Timing is everything here,” Foust said. “You’ve got to get this coordinated better with what they’re doing in Maryland or a bad situation is going to get worse.”

A public meeting on the project is set for March 12 at Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Public comments will be accepted through March 30, although Shaw said the public can reach out anytime after that.

“You want to extend the express lanes, but that’s not a good enough public purpose reason for doing this,” Foust said.

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Updated at 1:15 p.m. — Shortly after 1 p.m., the lanes reopened, MATOC tweeted. Drivers can expect delays up to 2.5 miles. 

Earlier: Drivers can expect delays from a tractor-trailer crash on I-495, which has caused the closure of several northbound lanes.

The crash is located along the highway north of Leesburg Pike (Route 7), according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The crash happened shortly after 12:30 p.m., according to a tweet from the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program.

The left, left-center and right-center lanes on northbound I-495 are currently closed, according to VDOT.

As of 1:10 p.m., traffic is backed up from I-66 to the Dulles Access Road along northbound I-495, according to Google Maps.

Map via Google Maps

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