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Work has begun on repairs to the George Washington Memorial Parkway’s bridge over Pimmit Run in McLean.

Construction crews are repairing façades of the structures that support the Pimmit Run Bridge as part of the ongoing project to rehabilitate the parkway’s northern section from the Capital Beltway (I-495) to Sprout Run Parkway in Arlington, according to the National Park Service.

Started around the beginning of the month, the bridge repairs are expected to continue “throughout the next couple of months,” the agency said in an update on Friday (Feb. 3).

The bridge’s lanes have been narrowed to provide more staging room for construction equipment, which is separated from the main road by a recently erected temporary barrier.

“Crews may not be visible to the traveling public as most of the work is under the bridge,” the NPS said.

Crews are also still working to install a temporary lane widening the parkway between I-495 and Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road). The added 10-f0ot-wide lane is necessary to give crews space to work and stage equipment, according to NPS.

The GW Parkway is being temporarily widened for a project to rehabilitate its northern section (courtesy NPS)

Here’s more on what to expect during this stage of construction from NPS:

Activities include removing select trees in the median and at the outfalls, installing temporary drainage, and activities related to installing temporary pavement. Motorists may see crews remove select trees at the outfalls over the next couple of months. Additionally, once crews begin select tree removal at the outfalls near Route 123, activities may be visible from the surrounding neighborhoods. The rehabilitation project includes tree replacement, which will occur at the completion of the project.

Weekday lane closures

  • Northbound lane closures from 6:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
  • Southbound lane closures from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday lane closures

  • Northbound left lane from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Southbound left lane from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Nighttime work is possible depending on weather temperatures.

Nighttime lane closure hours

  • Northbound lane closures from 7:15 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.
  • Southbound lane closures from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

“These lane closures are necessary to stage equipment and keep crews safe,” the park service said. “Lane closures may occur in the left or right lane with varying lengths; however, at least one lane of traffic in each direction will always remain open.”

Announced in December 2021, the $161 million project is the first major upgrade for the GW Parkway’s 7.6-mile northern stretch since it opened in 1962. Work is projected to finish in late 2025.

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The cell tower by I-495 at the Old Dominion Drive bridge in McLean (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3:45 p.m. on 1/5/2023) The search is still on for a new site to host a cell tower in McLean that has to be removed to make room for the widening Capital Beltway.

The monopole, which is owned by American Cell Towers and supports AT&T and T-Mobile service, was officially decommissioned on Dec. 9, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“Cell providers are working to minimize any potential impacts to existing service, and VDOT is working with the project’s design-build contractor to facilitate a relocated cell tower as soon as possible,” the department told FFXnow.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expressed concern at a Sept. 30 transportation committee meeting that losing the tower may cause wireless service disruptions, something that AT&T admitted was a possibility.

Fears of disruptions were particularly high after the removal of a cell facility at Lake Anne in Reston resulted in slow, spotty service for residents in that area over the summer, including for 911 calls.

Fortunately, those anticipated issues don’t seem to have come to fruition. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office, which represents McLean, says it hasn’t gotten any emails from constituents about the decommissioned cell tower, as of Dec. 20.

VDOT had hoped to see the tower relocated by Dec. 31 — an extension from the original deadline of Sept. 30 — but a new location still hasn’t been identified. VDOT didn’t respond by press time when asked if the deadline got extended again.

“[There’s] no timeline yet,” Jane Edmondson, Foust’s chief of staff, said by email. “The County has not yet received an application for a new location.”

Located by the Old Dominion Drive bridge, the 135-foot-tall monopole needs to be moved to make room for the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project, which is adding about three miles of toll lanes on the Beltway from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons to the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean.

The project will also replace the Old Dominion bridge, which has one lane each for eastbound and westbound traffic. The new bridge will have two lanes and a 14-foot-wide shared-use path on the south side. (Correction: This article initially said two lanes would be added on the bridge in each direction.)

While touted as necessary to mitigate traffic congestion, 495 NEXT has been criticized by some McLean residents as harmful to their neighborhoods and the environment.

Construction began in mid-2022 and is expected to continue into 2026, with the new express lanes opening in 2025.

Photo via Google Maps

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Work to widen East Spring Street in Herndon is set to begin next year (via VDOT)

The new year will ring in the beginning of a new construction project in Herndon.

Nearly $23 million in improvements to East Spring Street are slated to begin Tuesday (Jan. 3), according to the Town of Herndon.

The project will widen a quarter-mile of Spring Street from just west of Herndon Parkway to Fairfax County Parkway, creating space for additional through and turn lanes. More turn lanes are also under construction at the Spring Street intersection.

“The project, administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), will enhance the safety and efficiency of East Spring Street between the Fairfax County and Herndon parkways,” the town said.

The project will also connect the new Herndon Metro station the Washington & Old Dominion Trail through a sidewalk and eight-foot-wide cycle track along northbound Herndon Parkway.

Periodic lane closures are expected at the 100 block of Spring Street and the 400 block of Herndon Parkway.

A new sidewalk along eastbound Spring Street from Sunset Park Drive to Fairfax County Parkway and enhancements to existing pathways on both sides of spring street are also planned.

The project is expected to wrap up in the fall of 2024.

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A rendering of the planned Hunter Mill Road bridge over Colvin Run with an inset photo of the existing bridge (via VDOT)

A portion of the new Hunter Mill Road bridge over Colvin Run near Vienna is expected to open for traffic this week.

Vehicles will shift onto one lane of the new bridge between Crowell Road (Route 675) and Cobble Mill Road starting around 2 p.m. tomorrow (Friday), the Virginia Department of Transportation announced yesterday.

“One lane of alternating traffic will travel across the newly constructed portion of the bridge while the existing bridge is demolished and the remaining portion of the new bridge is built,” VDOT said in the news release. “The alternating traffic will continue to be controlled by temporary signals.”

The traffic change had initially been anticipated on Wednesday, Dec. 21, but warnings of gnarly winter weather led VDOT to postpone the date. Tomorrow’s opening is dependent on weather as well.

Expected to finish this coming spring, the Colvin Run bridge project is replacing a one-lane structure that was originally built in 1974 and could only hold up to 10 tons.

The new bridge will consist of two travel lanes separated by a median and abutments to set the stage for a trail crossing to the south, though the trail bridge will be built “at a future date” by Fairfax County.

Construction on the bridge replacement began in August 2021. Work ramped up this past September with the addition of some temporary traffic signals and Driveway Assistance Devices (DADs) to help manage thru, residential and construction traffic on the one-lane bridge.

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Trees along Live Oak Drive in McLean have been cut down so the Beltway can be widened (photo by April Georgelas)

The project to extend the I-495 Express Lanes north toward the American Legion Bridge has been under construction for half a year now, but some McLean residents remain as determined as ever to fight the Beltway’s encroachment into their neighborhoods.

Residents along Live Oak Drive in particular have consistently argued that they will face the most disruptions from the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) without getting the congestion relief benefits touted by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The latest blow came at the sight of workers cutting down trees that serve as a buffer between Live Oak and two existing I-495 (Capital Beltway) and George Washington Memorial Parkway ramps.

VDOT says the tree clearings were necessary to make room for the Beltway widening, a new retaining wall adjacent to I-495, and a planned noise wall adjacent to Live Oak Drive. But residents fear the redesigned interchange will be a new “Mixing Bowl,” the tangle of ramps and overpasses where I-495, I-395 and I-95 meet in Springfield.

“VDOT/Transurban are trying to shove through a new ‘Springfield Mixing Bowl’ right here in McLean,” Northern Virginia Citizens Association President Debra Butler said in a recent email to members. “Future demolition and construction will impact both sides of 495 at Georgetown Pike, Live Oak Drive, Langley Swim Club, Scotts Run Nature Preserve with a new ‘McLean Mixing Bowl’ with ramps as high as 271 feet [above sea level].”

Discussions of potential legislation underway

Organized in opposition to 495 NEXT, the association held a meeting at the Langley Swim & Tennis Club on Friday (Dec. 16) to discuss the tree removals and their issues with the project’s size.

Attendees at the meeting included Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34) and state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), who have started talking to Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard Miller III about options for addressing resident concerns.

The association has suggested allowing commercial trucks in the I-495 Express Lanes, where they’re currently prohibited, and having them get on and off in Tysons instead of McLean, eliminating the need for some flyover ramps.

VDOT says a planned exchange ramp allowing vehicles to exit the toll lanes at the GW Parkway is intended for all vehicles, though one purpose is to give trucks from Maryland access to the general purpose lanes.

Legislators could also introduce a bill with new controls on public-private partnerships like the one between VDOT and express lanes operator Transurban, improving transparency and limiting their ability to substantially change a project’s design after a public hearing, Butler says.

Murphy confirmed she and Favola are having discussions about potential legislation, but no concrete proposals have formed yet, even with a Jan. 1 deadline to submit bills for the 2023 General Assembly session looming.

“Those are certainly things we are going to bring to the attention of the secretary of transportation to see what possibilities are available, and as soon as we finish those conversations, we’ll have a better idea,” she told FFXnow. Read More

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Virginia State Police vehicle (photo by John Calhoun/JC Photography)

Updated at 11:40 a.m. on 12/9/2022The Virginia State Police says it located the Chevrolet Malibu involved in the I-66 hit-and-run in a local public parking garage after receiving a phone tip last night (Thursday).

“The Malibu has been seized as evidence and is being processed,” police said. “The temporary tags displayed on the vehicle do not belong to the vehicle. The investigation into identifying and locating the driver of the Malibu remains ongoing at this time.”

Earlier: A construction worker was killed on I-66 early this morning after a passing vehicle hit him while he was checking on drivers involved in a separate, two-vehicle crash, Virginia State Police said.

Police are currently asking for the public’s help in identifying and locating a maroon vehicle that drove through an I-66 work zone just east of the Route 123 (Chain Bridge Road) exit in Oakton around 1 a.m.

The vehicle was traveling “at a high rate of speed” when it hit the construction worker, who has been identified as 32-year-old Culpeper resident Jonathan W. Franzell, the VSP said.

According to police, the fatal crash was preceded by a collision between two other vehicles at approximately 12:58 a.m.

At approximately 12:58 a.m., a Honda Accord and Ford Taurus collided in the eastbound lanes of I-66 near Exit 60. The driver of the Ford Taurus fled the scene on foot. State police is investigating that crash and working to locate the driver. The driver of the Honda Accord suffered minor injuries and was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

This crash occurred in an active highway work zone and was witnessed by one of the workers. The worker reported to his supervisor that he was going to check on the drivers, exited his work vehicle and ran over to the crash scene.

While checking on the driver of the Honda, a maroon vehicle came through the work zone at a high rate of speed and struck the worker. The vehicle then fled the scene.

Franzell died from his injuries at the crash scene.

The VSP says debris from the maroon vehicle collected at the scene suggests it was a 2013-2015 maroon or burgundy Chevrolet Malibu.

“The Malibu will be missing its driver’s side mirror and have substantial damage to the front driver’s side,” police said.

VSP advises anyone who may have witnessed the crash or have other information about the Chevrolet to call 703-803-0026 or email questions@vsp.virginia.gov. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Franzell is the 28th pedestrian killed by a vehicle crash in Fairfax County this year, by FFXnow’s count. Virginia crash data shows 25 fatalities for this year, but it has recorded only one so far in November, when there were at least three fatal pedestrian crashes, and none yet for December.

This is the second fatal pedestrian crash in the county this week, following the death of 66-year-old Falls Church resident Kamrul Hassan on Route 50 on Sunday (Dec. 4).

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A mini-van takes the new I-66 Express Lanes in the Centreville area (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

If you plan on driving the newly extended I-66 Express Lanes next month, make sure there are at least two other people in the car to avoid paying a toll.

The entire length of the I-66 toll lanes will shift from HOV2 to HOV3 in early December, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently announced.

Starting Dec. 5, only those with traveling with three or more people will be able to use the lanes for free. This is a change from the previous standard of two or more passengers.

Single riders or those traveling with just two passengers will have to pay a toll, with the price varying based on traffic volumes (known as “dynamic tolling”).

The change will apply to the entire 32-mile length of the I-66 Express Lanes, including the existing 9-mile section inside the Beltway (I-495) from Dunn Loring to Route 29 in Rosslyn. A new Beltway ramp to I-66 just opened this week.

That portion of I-66 operates as HOV on weekdays during peak hours and in peak directions. Otherwise, the express lanes are free and have no occupancy requirement.

Hours of operation for I-66 Express Lanes inside of the Beltway (screenshot via VDOT)

VDOT also notes that, in order to use the lanes during rush hour, drivers need an E-ZPass transponder.

The state transportation agency said in a press release that the new requirements are “consistent with HOV requirements on the other express lanes in Northern Virginia.”

In a statement to FFXnow, a VDOT spokesperson said consistency and federal environmental standards were the biggest reasons for the change:

This change supports the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board’s policy to change HOV-2 to HOV-3 throughout the region in order to move more people with fewer vehicles and comply with the federal Clean Air Act Amendment. This change is also consistent with the other express lanes in Northern Virginia on I-95, I-395, and I-495, and is aligned with Virginia’s policy that HOV-3 be the requirement for toll-free travel on all privately-operated express lanes in Virginia. This rule applies to I-66 Express Lanes Outside the Beltway, which are operated by I-66 Express Mobility Partners under a public-private partnership with the Commonwealth.

The switch from HOV2 to HOV3 was first approved in 2016 by Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The portion of the express lanes inside the Beltway opened five years ago, accompanied by a good amount of griping about the high toll prices.

The 22-mile section outside of the Beltway is almost fully operational after about six years of work. A 9-mile stretch from Route 28 in Centreville to Route 29 in Gainesville opened in early September, and the westbound lanes from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Route 28 became operational yesterday.

The eastbound lanes could open as early as tomorrow, a few weeks ahead of schedule, VDOT says. Work in the corridor will continue through mid-2023 on other elements of the Transform 66 project, including new interchanges and a parallel shared-use path.

A version of this story appeared earlier on FFXnow’s sister site, ARLnow.

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I-495 North is getting a new ramp to the I-66 West general purpose lanes, while the existing ramp will lead to the new I-66 Express Lanes (via VDOT)

Updated at 3:25 p.m. — The switch to the new I-495 North ramp to I-66 is now scheduled to be implemented tomorrow night and will be in place early Wednesday morning (Nov. 16), VDOT says.

Earlier: The Capital Beltway is getting a new ramp in Dunn Loring, as the Virginia Department of Transportation prepares to open another segment of the extended I-66 Express Lanes.

A new, permanent ramp and exit from the northbound I-495 Express Lanes to the general purpose lanes on I-66 West was scheduled to open this morning, VDOT announced Friday (Nov. 11).

The ramp is located on the right side of the Beltway, about 500 feet north of the existing ramp, and loops around the interchange.

The existing ramp closed today but will reopen on or around Saturday (Nov. 19) as the new connection from the 495 North Express Lanes to the new 66 Express Lanes West, according to VDOT, though the exact date could vary depending on the weather.

The department announced last week that the westbound I-66 toll lanes from I-495 to Route 28 in Centreville will open to traffic this Saturday, with the eastbound lanes following by the end of November.

The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project has been in the works since 2016, adding 22 miles to the I-66 toll lanes while reconfiguring interchanges and creating a shared-use trail in the corridor. A 9-mile stretch of lanes opened between Gainesville and Centreville in September.

Starting Dec. 5, the entire I-66 Express Lanes system will require vehicles to have three or more occupants to qualify as high-occupancy so they can use the lanes toll-free.

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The I-66 Express Lanes at the Vienna Metro station, as of September (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The extended I-66 Express Lanes outside the Capital Beltway will open ahead of schedule, the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

Previously scheduled to arrive in December, the lanes will open in the westbound direction from I-495 in Dunn Loring to Route 28 in Centreville as soon as Saturday, Nov. 19, VDOT said in a news release snuck in just before a three-day weekend.

The eastbound lanes along that 13-mile stretch of road are expected to open by the end of November.

“Updates will be provided to the public as final construction progresses. All work is weather dependent, and inclement conditions could affect the final opening schedule,” VDOT noted.

Construction to extend the I-66 toll lanes 22 miles outside the Beltway has been underway since summer 2016. Toll lanes opened inside the Beltway in December 2017.

Nine miles of express lanes west of Centreville opened in early September, also coming sooner than anticipated. Tolling on that section, which extends to Gainesville, began on Sept. 24.

As with the existing express lanes around Northern Virginia, the new I-66 lanes will charge tolls that vary based on traffic volumes and speed. Vehicles that meet the high occupancy requirements can use the lanes for free, but they need to have an E-ZPass Flex set to “HOV On.”

The I-66 Express Lanes currently have an HOV requirement of two or more occupants, but that will increase to three or more occupants along the entire corridor, starting Dec. 5, according to VDOT, which says the new rule will be consistent with other toll lanes in the region.

Here’s more from VDOT on how drivers can prepare for the express lane openings:

Obtain an E-ZPass to pay tolls, or an E-ZPass Flex to travel toll-free as HOV. Drivers can obtain an E-ZPass at ezpassva.com, by calling 877-762-7824, or in person at many Giant and Wegmans grocery stores in Northern Virginia, as well as at AAA offices, Fairfax Connector stores, and DMV Customer Service Centers.

Become familiar with other payment options available through I-66 EMP such as paying online, via the mail, by calling 833-643-2867, or in person at the 66 Express Lanes Customer Service Center in Manassas. Payment options other than E-ZPass will incur administrative fees. More information can be found at Ride66express.com.

More information about the I-66 Express Lanes can be found at Ride66express.com.

Though the express lanes will open to traffic soon, work on some interchanges and a shared-use trail alongside the highway will continue. The overall project is scheduled for completion by mid-2023.

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

Starting next week, all drivers traveling north on the Capital Beltway through Tysons will share the same exit to get to the westbound Dulles Toll Road.

The existing Exit 45 will be closed around Wednesday, Nov. 16, so construction can begin on a new bridge for the Beltway (I-495) over the toll road ramps, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced Thursday (Nov. 3).

Both general-purpose and express traffic looking to get onto the toll road’s westbound lanes will instead be directed onto a 495 Express Lanes ramp, located about one-third of a mile south of the old exit.

“To facilitate this new travel pattern, I-495 will be reduced from four to three lanes for a stretch of approximately one-half mile near the I-495 and Dulles Corridor interchange,” VDOT said. “…Due to this change, drivers traveling on southbound Route 123 will not be able to access westbound Dulles Toll Road from northbound I-495.”

I-495 North drivers will soon use an earlier exit to access Dulles Toll Road West (via VDOT)

The new configuration will be in place through early 2025, as work continues on the 495 Express Lanes Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project, which is extending the lanes 2.5 miles from Tysons to the George Washington Memorial Parkway interchange in McLean.

The redesigned Dulles Toll Road interchange will include two new ramps from I-495 North, one going east and one going west. Three stormwater ponds are also being constructed inside the ramp from the westbound toll road to the Beltway.

Active construction began on 495 NEXT in late May and is expected to continue into 2026.

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