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Traffic
Early relief coming for E-ZPass lanes in Stafford

STAFFORD — The southern extension of the Interstate 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes will open by October.

Delegate Mark Dudenhefer says he’s spoken with officials at Transurban, the toll operators of the E-ZPass lanes who assured him of the fall opening, which would come earlier than expected opening time frame of early 2018.

Transurban spokesman Mike McGurk confirmed the plans to open a southbound ramp of the extension before the end of 2017 and the northbound ramp in summer 2018. “More information on specific timing will be shared with drivers as we grow closer to these milestones,” he stated in an email.

The single-lane extension of the Express Lanes south of Garrisonville Road will begin at the existing flyover ramp that, today, drivers must use to exit the E-ZPass lanes. When southbound traffic is allowed to use the lanes, such as weekday afternoons, the single lane will take drivers to exit ramp just north of Courthouse Road where drivers will be able to reenter I-95 south by using a left merge.

The southbound extension should alleviate some pressure during the afternoons as backups regularly occur when drivers are forced to use the flyover ramp to exit the E-ZPass lanes.

In the mornings, northbound traffic will be able to enter the E-ZPass lanes earlier using a new entrance onto the single-lane extension south of Garrisonville Road. An existing northbound entrance to the E-ZPass lanes just past Garrisonville Road will remain.

Dudenhefer chose not to seek another term in Richmond but is running to reclaim his seat as the Garrisonville District Supervisor on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.

The Republican has long argued for traffic improvements on the county’s mostly two-lane rural roads. He decided to run for the Garrisonville seat in 2005 after his daughter, Emily, was killed a year earlier when the car she was riding in hit a tree.

Dudenhefer said the earlier than anticipated opening of the E-ZPass lane extension is a good thing for transportation in the region. But more road projects need to be added to Stafford County’s books to keep up with population growth, he added.

He said, if elected in November, he’ll go back and review, and update where necessary, the county’s Youth Driver Taskforce report released in 2005.

“A lot has changed since then, and we should make sure the report is up to date,” said Dudenhefer.

The report tied together the county’s transportation department, public safety agencies, and its school division to identify problems and potential fixes to make county roads safer for younger drivers. It called for the widening of many of the county’s antiquated two-lane thoroughfares — many which date back to the 1930s — as well as improving sight distance, and removing tree limbs that hung low over roadways.

Last year, the Stafford County Government allocated funds to widen and straighten a two-and-half-mile portion of Brooke Road in the eastern section of the county. The project was identified 12 years earlier in the Youth Driver Taskforce report.

“It can take years to get road projects funded, and constructed, so we need to start thinking about them now,” added Dudenhefer.

On Route 610 in North Stafford, a county-funded project to widen Garrisonville Road from four to six lanes between Onville and Eustace roads is underway. A state-funded project to improve the intersection of Route 610 and Onville Road wrapped up earlier this spring.

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