The $1 billion transportation deal Virginia officials announced this week to add more toll lanes on Interstates 95 and 495 also will address a major bottleneck for southbound traffic at the Occoquan River crossing between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

The project was at the center of months-long negotiations between the state and Transurban, culminating with Tuesday’s announcement of a plan that allows the Australian company to expand its toll operations in Northern Virginia and solidify its decade-long relationship with the state.

Transurban will extend the 495 Express Lanes to the American Legion Bridge and begin construction of an additional 10 miles of the 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg. The company also will build a ramp from the 95 Express Lanes at Opitz Boulevard to connect to shopping and medical facilities in Woodbridge.

In exchange, the state will be allowed to build a southbound lane to ease the Occoquan bottleneck. Additionally, Transurban will pay the state a concession of $277 million, a sum announced last year, to help cover the costs of a bridge over the Rappahannock River and other improvements. Officials said Transurban will also give the state a payment of at least $54 million in unanticipated project savings. Virginia officials said that money will be used to help pay for the new Occoquan auxiliary lane.

Transurban had opposed construction of the lane citing a stipulation in its original contract that forbids Virginia from building general travel lanes where Transurban operates high-occupancy toll lanes. If the state had tried to build the extra lane without a deal, it could have potentially faced millions of dollars in penalties.

“The Commonwealth was clear on our position that the construction of an auxiliary lane would not constitute a compensation event. Transurban was clear on its position that this project would constitute a compensation event. In the end, we agreed not to debate the issue over the next several decades,” said Amy Wight, Virginia’s assistant transportation secretary. “Avoiding what could be a lengthy and costly legal battle is in the interest of both parties and of Virginians, and the decision was to move forward with this specific improvement.” (Cont’d)

Read Full Story: The $1 billion transportation deal announced to add more toll lanes also will address a major bottleneck for southbound traffic at the Occoquan River crossing between Fairfax and Prince William counties – The Washington Post

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