Newsletter
HOV-+3 exit at I-395/Seminary Road (photo via Google Maps)

The south-facing exit from I-395 onto Seminary Road has been for high occupancy vehicles (HOV) only since 2019, but solo drivers will have an option to take the exit ramp for a toll starting early next month.

The ramp off the express lanes currently has an HOV-3+ restriction, meaning the cars must have at least three occupants. Transurban, which operates the express lanes, said it is the only ramp along the corridor closed to toll-paying customers.

The shift to a toll option is scheduled to take effect on Friday, Sept. 9

“Converting the ramp will offer vehicles who are traveling with fewer than three people the option to pay a toll to exit to Seminary Road from the northbound 395 Express Lanes, or to enter the southbound Lanes from Seminary Road,” Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said in a release. “Dynamic message signs currently installed on Seminary Road will display real-time toll prices to destinations available from the ramp beginning September 9.”

Vehicles with an E-ZPass set to “HOV ON”, along with buses and motorcycles, will continue to have toll-free access to the ramp.

Work on adding toll signage and road markings will require temporary traffic shifts starting today through Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Photo via Google Maps

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I-395 between Duke Street and Edsall Road (image via Google Maps)

After road work on I-395 was rescheduled from this weekend, the highway will see closures starting tonight.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said several lanes of I-395 between Edsall Road and Duke Street are rescheduled to close between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. tonight through Thursday night.

Tonight and tomorrow night, it’s two northbound lanes and three southbound lanes.

“The two right northbound I-395 general purpose lanes between Edsall Road and Duke Street and the three left southbound I-395 general purpose lanes between Seminary Road and Duke Street will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night,” VDOT said in a release, “with full stoppages of up to 20 minutes each in both directions occurring between midnight and 4 a.m. each night.”

On Wednesday it will be three lanes on alternating sides of the northbound side of the road, then the same for the southbound side on Thursday.

“The work is part of the project to rehabilitate the Duke Street bridge over I-395,” VDOT said in the release. “The improvements will extend the overall life of the bridge and improve safety for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, and include replacing the concrete bridge deck and beams, upgrading the westbound sidewalk to a shared-use path, and widening the eastbound sidewalk. The project is scheduled for completion in winter 2023/24.”

Image via Google Maps

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There are major traffic delays leading up to Interstates 495 and 395 in Alexandria, as a trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates has entered D.C. and created miles of backups.

Traffic snaked all the way down to Jefferson Manor, just south of Huntington, which is about a half-mile from the interstate.

The convoy drove through the area last week without incident.

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Morning Notes

Say farewell to the Fairies of Del Ray–just for now! — “You might have noticed the petite doors and houses and stained glass windows hidden in the crooks of trees and crannies of rocks in the Del Ray neighborhood.” [Zebra]

I-395 Seminary Road ramp conversion OKed by VA board — “The conversion will allow solo riders to use the ramp for a toll and HOV-3 carpoolers to continue using it for free.” [Patch]

Youngkin, Psaki respond to Northern Va. school systems’ announcements on mask requirements — “Youngkin said he would use state resources to force the school systems to comply, though he did not specify how.” [WTOP]

Obituary: Bill Stokes — “International business consultant dies at 57.” [Alexandria Gazette]

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(Updated at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30) Virginia State Police have released the identity of the driver in Sunday’s fatal single-vehicle crash at the Duke Street overpass of Interstate 395 on Sunday.

Alexandria resident Eric G. Jones, 46, was killed after his SUV crashed and became wedged under the overpass.

“A 2019 Honda HR-V was traveling north when the left front tire (a spare tire) blew out,” VSP said in a release. “This caused it to run off the right side of the road where it struck the overpass support.”

The crash was reported around 4:23 p.m on the northbound side of I-395 at Exit 3B.

The crash remains under investigation, VSP said.

Expect traffic around the Duke Street exit on northbound Interstate 395, after a crash occurred at around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday (August 10).

The crash involved a black SUV and a tow truck, according to officials.

The front airbags of the SUV deployed, and the driver of the SUV reportedly complained of neck pain after the crash, although she was not taken to Inova Alexandria Hospital.

Virginia State Police are handling the incident and the two vehicles have been pulled over to the shoulder of the roadway.

via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

(Update at 10:30 a.m. Blue and White Carryout is still open. The tweet from a local news outlet was incorrect.)

City Council Rescinds Vote on Braddock West Development — “The matter will be taken up again for public hearing and vote on May 15, but a pending lawsuit by an Alexandria resident may delay a final decision.” [Alexandria Living]

West End Harris Teeter opening early this summer — “The new store, 62,000 square feet in size, will be located at West Alex, the new development that also includes Array, an apartment building and the Silver Diner restaurant that opened on the corner of King and N. Beauregard streets.” [Alexandria Living]

Southbound King Street exit on Interstate 395 closed for 2 weeks — “Drivers along King Street (Route 7) in Alexandria can expect a new temporary traffic pattern at I-395 beginning Monday morning, May 3, weather permitting, for work as part of the rehabilitation of the King Street Bridge over I-395, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Showers early then scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 73F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Partly cloudy skies overnight. Low around 65F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bilingual medical assistant — “Functions as a member of a program team by performing and documenting results of selected tests and measurements, maintaining adequately supplied workstations, maintaining a clean work environment, and promoting timely and efficient patient flow through the clinic. Has primary responsibility for the collection, processing, and recording of laboratory testing. Gives immunizations and other injectable medications under the supervision of the physician, nurse practitioner or registered nurse. Assists with patient treatments during clinical sessions.” [Indeed]

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JUST IN: Car Fire Blocks I-395

Alexandria firefighters are on scene of a car fire on I-395.

The engine of an SUV caught fire in the northbound lanes of the highway, between Seminary Road and King Street. Firefighters are currently working to extinguish the fire.

Two mainline lanes of northbound I-395 are currently blocked. According to scanner traffic, police are currently looking for the driver, who reportedly ran off.

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After the launch of the I-395 Express Lanes, Transurban is turning its attention to a ramp connecting I-395 to Seminary Road near the Mark Center.

The south-facing ramp, which opened in 2016, is currently restricted to HOV traffic and buses traveling north in the morning and south in the evenings. Transurban hopes to change that, opening the ramp up to toll-paying traffic — allowing another point of access to Seminary Road for drivers on I-395 and another incentive to use the Express Lanes.

Transurban is scheduled to pitch its plans at a meeting scheduled for next Monday, Dec. 9, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Minnie Howard Campus (3801 W. Braddock Road). The presentation is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

According to a press release:

The meeting is an opportunity for the public to find out about an operations analysis assessing the traffic and safety impacts and benefits of converting the I-395 and Seminary Road Ramp in the City of Alexandria from a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)-only ramp to a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) ramp. The ramp would continue to provide access to the 395 Express Lanes but would be available to vehicles with fewer than three occupants who pay a toll, and for free to vehicles with three or more occupants.

The north-facing ramp is currently open to toll traffic. The City of Alexandria’s webpage for the ramp said Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) is coordinating with Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation on an analysis of the potential change and looking at how the changes could impact local traffic.

Revenue from the tolls on I-395, and from the ramp, would go towards transit services and multimodal solutions — projects aimed at getting people out of their cars and onto mass-transit.

Photo via Google Maps

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It’s all hands on deck at the Transurban offices as the company prepares for the launch of the new I-395 Express Lanes this weekend.

The 395 Express Lanes — which run from Edsall Road in Fairfax County up eight miles to the 14th Street Bridge, passing through Alexandria’s West End — are scheduled to switch over to High Occupancy Toll lanes this Sunday, Nov. 17.

In a command center at 6440 General Green Way, just west of Alexandria city limits, Transurban staff sit in front of a sprawling wall of televisions flickering between views of Northern Virginia’s highways. In the camera feeds, construction crews can be seen working to finish up some of the final touches as they convert the two reversible HOV lanes into three Express Lanes.

The new Express Lanes are similar to ones installed earlier on I-495 and I-95. They require an E-ZPass to drive in, with options to drive toll-free if there are three or more passengers, or to pay a dynamic toll based on demand.

Mike McGurk, a spokesman for Transurban, said tolls — for those who want a quicker trip — are expected to average $8 but could range from a few dollars up to “high or mid $20s.”

McGurk said his main concern, going into the change, is safety. If a driver accidentally pulls into an express lane without intending to, McGurk said to keep driving and get to your destination — then when you get mail about the bill, contact Transurban and explain the situation.

The new Express Lanes should also relieve some of the traffic on the non-toll lanes as well, McGurk said, and estimated that non-Express traffic would see a 7-15% decrease in travel time based on experience with other Express Lanes. McGurk also said that the new lanes were unlikely to push more traffic onto Alexandria side streets.

A south-facing ramp at Seminary Road in Alexandria is currently planned to remain HOV-only, but McGurk said Transurban is currently in discussions with Alexandria to open the ramp to tolled, non-HOV traffic.

Map via Transurban

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