Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety: “HOT Lanes” and “HOV Lanes” Extending South Into Stafford County

Work has already begun to extend the express lanes of Interstate 95 all the way south to Garrisonville in Stafford County from Northern Virginia.

High Occupancy and Toll (HOT) lanes, or high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, are express travel lanes that run alongside existing highway lanes and are typically reserved for travelers who are in multi-passenger vehicles or those willing to pay a toll. HOV lanes have been established in the Northern Virginia / DC area for years but now they will extend to Garrisonville in an effort to ease congestion and boost the economy.

Governor Robert McDonnell first announced the ambitious project in a December 6, 2011, press release in which he said: “The project will bring congestion relief and new travel choices to Northern Virginians. It will also provide an economic boost by supporting nearly 8,000 jobs over the construction period and stimulating $2 billion in economic activity.”[1]  The project was made possible through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fluor-Transurban – a global engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance and project management company that works with governments and multinational companies to design, build and maintain capital projects.  The HOT lane project is being financed and constructed under Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act with $843 million financed by Fluor-Transurban and $97 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia, for a total expected cost of $940 million.

Some key aspects of the project include:

  • Extending 9 miles of existing HOV lanes from Dumfries to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County.
  • Extending existing HOV lanes from two to three lanes for 14 miles from Edsall Road to the Prince William Parkway.
  • Improve 6 miles of existing HOV lanes from the Prince William Parkway to Route 234.
  • Create a seamless connection to the HOV/HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway and into Tysons Corner.
  • Add new or improved access points to and from the HOV/HOT network at key interchanges.

Once the project is complete, it will allow free travel for carpools with three or more persons, van pools, buses, motorcycles and emergency vehicles. Single person vehicles can use the express lanes for a toll based on the time of day and travel distance.  The new express lanes are expected to be up and running by the end of 2014.[2]

The current HOV lanes end in Dumfries, Virginia, which typically causes massive delays as vehicles merge from the HOV lanes onto the main travel lanes of I-95. The expansion of the HOV/HOT lanes is designed to alleviate what many call the worst bottleneck in the region.  However, with Garrisonville Road being the new endpoint for HOV/HOT lanes, many people who work and/or live in Garrisonville are now wondering if that bottleneck will find a new home in their area.  VDOT and Stafford officially say no. The plans call for a flyover (overpass) which drivers headed to Aquia and Garrisonville will be able to use to exit onto Route 610. The flyover will also allow traffic from the HOV/HOT lanes to merge from the right onto the main I-95 lanes. This construction design is supposed to make for a smoother merge, but only time will tell if that is correct.[3]

About the Author: Stafford County car accident lawyer David M. Williams, Jr. is experienced in the litigation and resolution of car accident claims, wrongful death, truck accident cases and products liability cases.  David works in Allen & Allen’s Garrisonville personal injury attorney office.  David has successfully argued multiple cases before the Virginia Supreme Court in more than 15 years of experience with personal injury law.

[1] See press release at
[2] See detailed project description in the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)’s website at
[3] For more information on this project and to monitor construction progress, see the VDOT website at  and Fluor-Transurban’s website at, as well as the project website at