Travel through the Springfield Interchange should be easier for motorists, with the opening last week of a new bridge that carries traffic from I-95 North onto the Inner Loop toward Tysons Corner. On Thursday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine accompanied a busload of elected officials and transportation experts during a peak hour tour of the new bridge. The ramp is 110 feet high, with four 12-foot lanes and two 12-foot shoulders, and eliminates the dangerous weaving maneuvers that challenged drivers heading north to or exiting to the Beltway’s Inner Loop. Gone is the right-hand cloverleaf exit that seemed to be headed in the opposite direction from Tysons Corner; exiting vehicles now will go up and over the highway to the left. Separated lanes will handle traffic continuing north to I-395.
Governor Kaine noted that the Springfield Interchange Improvement Project is one of the largest construction projects on the East Coast, costing $676 million and on schedule for completion by the end of 2007. The interchange carries about 430,000 vehicles each day, he said. By the end of this year, crisscrossing from the Beltway’s Outer Loop to southbound I-95 will be eased with new exit lanes, and traffic heading to Springfield will have its own exit lane separate from the long-distance traffic. Two new bridges for motorists heading from the Outer Loop to northbound I-395 are expected to open next summer. Governor Kaine’s pleasure was obvious when he saw traffic moving smoothly on the new bridge, and he said he hoped to cut 15 minutes of drive time traveling from Richmond as a result of the improvements.
Hurricane Katrina, and its after effects on the people of the Gulf Coast, continues to inspire an outpouring of help from communities far from the center of the storm. I recently learned of another opportunity to assist people in Mississippi who are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Peace Lutheran Church, in the Lincolnia area of Mason District, is leading an effort to fill a tractor trailer with food and over-the-counter medi-cines to Christus Victor Lutheran Church, a FEMA-designated hurricane disaster response center (visit www.campvictor.org to see the work they are doing and the kind of goods needed). The Mississippi congregation uses their food distribution program as an entry point to connect people with housing, schools, jobs, and medical care for the short-term. The long-term goal, of course, is full recovery for the Gulf Coast area.
The tractor trailer will be loaded at Peace Lutheran on September 23 and 24, with a delivery date to Mississippi no later than September 30. Food, especially case goods, money, supplies, and volunteers are needed to make the effort a successful one. Please call or email Peace Lutheran’s Katrina Relief Coordinator Pat Snyder first at 703/379-1378 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to arrange for your donation.
One person really can make a difference. We see that in the generosity of Mason District and Fairfax County residents every day, and this is another example. Help in the Gulf Coast will be needed for many more months, and years, to come.