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Lane on I-495 North to permanently close in preparation for express lane construction

The current end of the I-495 North Express Lanes in Tysons (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A lane closure is coming for I-495 in McLean, the first of what will likely be many similar changes to the roadway over the next few years.

The left-shoulder lane on northbound I-495, also known as the Capital Beltway, will close permanently between Old Dominion Drive and the George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange as soon as next Tuesday (May 31), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday (Wednesday).

Typically open during peak travel periods from where the existing I-495 Express Lanes end near the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons to the GW Parkway, the lane will be shut down to make room for construction on the 495 NEXT project, which will extend the express lanes 2.5 miles toward the American Legion Bridge north of McLean.

“The closure of this shoulder lane is necessary to make space in the center of the Beltway for construction of new bridges that will span the wider, future Beltway at Old Dominion Drive, Georgetown Pike and Live Oak Drive,” VDOT said in a news release.

Officials broke ground on the $660 million project in March, but on-site work so far has consisted only of soil collections, surveying, and other preliminary activities.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced at the groundbreaking that full construction work will start this summer, even though no news has come out of Maryland on its Beltway toll lanes project. Fairfax County officials have argued that toll lanes on the other side of the Potomac River are necessary for 495 NEXT to relieve traffic congestion as promised.

The I-495 North left-shoulder lane will soon be permanently closed, requiring a new traffic pattern (via VDOT)

The upcoming lane closure in I-495 North will be accompanied by some other changes as well, VDOT says:

  • Closing the southbound center shoulder
  • Restriping and realigning the general purpose lanes to create additional space in the center of I-495
  • Placing temporary barriers to secure the center work zone for the safety of drivers and workers.

“Periodic lane closures are required to complete this work, but will be scheduled during non-peak travel hours,” VDOT said. “Travelers approaching the construction area should anticipate delays and plan accordingly.”

The department says it will update the public on traffic changes throughout construction with roadway signs, news releases, social media posts, emails, and “outreach to directly-affected stakeholders.”

VDOT, Express Lanes operator Transurban, and contractor Lane Construction will soon hold the first public meetings on the project since late September. There will be an in-person meeting at Langley High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on June 6, followed by a virtual one during the same time frame on June 7.

According to the project page, the meetings will provide updates on coming construction activities, including an initial timeline, as well as changes to the design and efforts to coordinate with the Maryland toll lanes project and the National Park Service’s plan to rehabilitate the GW Parkway.

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