There was lots of excitement in Mason District last week, as Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Lane, Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova, and more than a dozen state delegates, senators, and other elected officials, to celebrate the opening of the new I-95 Express Lanes. The 29-mile corridor of new express lanes, from Garrisonville in Stafford County to the south to the northern terminus at Edsall Road in Mason District, opened to traffic last Sunday. Until December 28, the 95 Express Lanes will be free, allowing drivers and car poolers to try out the new lanes before tolling begins on December 29.
The new lanes will be reversible, with entry and exit points open and closed, depending on the direction traffic is flowing. Drivers must be alert and acclimate themselves to the new traffic patterns. The new lanes will observe standard HOV (high occupancy vehicle) rules during rush hour. Once tolling begins, Express Lane rules will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Beginning on December 29, all drivers using the Express Lanes must have an E-ZPass; Carpoolers, sluggers, or those who travel frequently with three or more people in their vehicle will need an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV Mode to travel toll-free. You can buy an E-ZPass at many retail locations, including Wegmans, select Virginia DMVs and Giant Food Stores.
The I-95 Express Lanes project is a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, with Fluor-Lane 95, LLC, leading the construction. The project is similar to the Beltway Express Lanes project on I-495, which are proving beneficial in reducing congestion and improving timeliness of commuter trips since their opening a couple of years ago. Officials caution that new travel patterns may provide some confusion at first, as drivers transition from the Express Lanes to HOV and general purpose lanes at the Edsall Road terminus. Visit www.95ExpressLanes.com to learn about the new access points, signage, safety tips, and the rules of the road before you set out on your first trip.
There is more good news in Mason District with the announcement by the Fairfax County Park Authority of the successful purchase of almost ten acres of open space in southern Mason District, inside the Beltway. The former Roat property, near Edsall Road and Canard Street, was a family farm for decades but, more recently, lay fallow as the owners aged. The flat, triangular-shaped 10-acre parcel will be called Monch Farm Park, reflecting the family legacy of the property. No date has been set for a public master planning process; for now, another 10 acres of open space has been added to the county’s inventory, an investment for current and future generations, and fulfillment of the Park Authority’s stewardship mission. What a gift for the holidays!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]