GWRideConnect NEWS

Stafford Diverging Diamond Now Open

Watch a simulation video here to experience a traveler’s windshield view and an aerial view.


The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will open the new diverging diamond interchange over Interstate 95 at Exit 140 (Courthouse Road) in Stafford County on Saturday, Dec. 7.


The interchange opening is a major milestone in the $195 million project to expand capacity and improve travel in Stafford County’s Courthouse Road area.


Diverging Diamond Interchanges (DDIs) lower the number of conflict points between vehicles by eliminating left turns. The new interchange briefly shifts vehicles on Courthouse Road to the other side of the road on new overpass bridges, which allows drivers to merge left onto the I-95 northbound and southbound ramps without stopping at a traffic signal.


On Saturday, Dec. 7, crews will open the new interchange to traffic, with assistance from Virginia State Police and local law enforcement. Opening the interchange early Saturday will allow crews to take advantage of lighter traffic volumes.


In addition to the interchange opening on Dec. 7, motorists can expect:

• On eastbound Courthouse Road, all three travel lanes will open in the diverging diamond interchange
• At Route 1, a new four-lane Hospital Center Boulevard extension will open west of Route 1 and connect directly to the diverging diamond interchange on Courthouse Road through a new Wyche Road intersection
• On westbound Courthouse Road, all three travel lanes will open in the diverging diamond interchange, but the road will narrow to two westbound travel lanes just before Austin Ridge Drive
• Courthouse Road west of Austin Ridge Drive will remain reduced to one lane in each direction until late December 2019, when all four lanes will open between the I-95 interchange and Ramoth Church Road/Winding Creek Road


I-95 Southbound Exit Ramp Detour

On December 7, three of the new Exit 140 interchange ramps will open, but the I-95 southbound exit ramp to Courthouse Road will remain in a detour pattern until late December 2019.


Click here to view a map of the detour.


Motorists traveling from I-95 southbound to Courthouse Road should follow the posted detour signs to access the new Courthouse Road.

Traffic will be detoured for several weeks to allow crews to build the new exit ramp and raise its elevation to match the height of the new diverging diamond interchange and I-95 overpass bridges. Courthouse Road traffic is currently traveling in the location where this construction work must occur, once the ramp is detoured on December 7.


What Motorists Can Expect

Message boards will be posted beginning the week of December 2 on I-95, Route 1, Courthouse Road and other connecting roads to alert travelers to the Dec. 7 interchange opening.


Numerous signs and pavement markings will guide drivers through the diverging diamond interchange.


All work has been scheduled weather permitting. For real-time updates on lane closures and the opening of the diverging diamond interchange:

• Check 511virginia.org or call 511 from any phone in Virginia
• Visit the project page at www.virginiadot.org/exit140
• See news releases in the VDOT Fredericksburg District online newsroom
• Follow VDOT Fredericksburg District on Twitter @VaDOTFRED
• Join the VDOT Fredericksburg District Facebook group page


Community Meeting on Diverging Diamond Interchange on Monday, Dec. 2.

The public is invited to attend a community meeting on Monday, Dec. 2 at Colonial Forge High School to learn more about diverging diamond interchanges and the Exit 140 project.


VDOT staff will deliver a brief presentation, and attendees can watch a simulation video and participate in a walk-through DDI exhibit with signs and pavement markings similar to the Courthouse Road interchange.


The meeting will be held:

Monday, Dec. 2
5-7 p.m.*
Colonial Forge High School
550 Courthouse Road
Stafford, VA 22554
*A brief presentation will be delivered at 5:30 p.m.

VDOT staff will be available to answer questions throughout the meeting.


Project Background

Construction on the Exit 140 interchange and Courthouse Road widening project began in July 2017. All work will be finished by July 31, 2020.


After the new four-lane portion of Courthouse Road opens to traffic west of Austin Ridge Drive in late December 2019, construction crews will focus on finishing the following project elements in 2020:

• Expanded Park & Ride commuter parking at Exit 140: New Park & Ride lots are under construction north and south of the future Old Courthouse Road. Together, the lots will offer around 1,100 parking spaces. The southern lot will have a dedicated pickup and dropoff area for buses, carpools, and vanpools.

• New sidewalk and shared use path: Crews will continue building new sidewalk from the Park & Ride lots east along Old Courthouse Road to the Stafford County Government Center, and a shared use path from Austin Ridge Drive to the Park & Ride lots through the interchange. A new, shared use path from Winding Creek Elementary School near the Ramoth Church Road/Winding Creek Road intersection to west of Austin Ridge Drive will open on Dec. 7.

Courthouse Road carries an average of 16,000 vehicles a day and around 136,000 vehicles a day travel on I-95 near Exit 140.

To learn more on this project, please visit the project page at www.VirginiaDOT.org/Exit140 and VDOT’s innovative intersections and interchanges page on diverging diamond interchanges (DDI).



VDOT’s 14-county Fredericksburg District includes the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford in the Fredericksburg area; Northumberland, Richmond, Lancaster and Westmoreland counties in the Northern Neck; Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews and Middlesex counties in the Middle Peninsula.

How Climate Change Impacts Commutes

The DCist published an article detailing how climate change affects transit now and what they say it will affect in the future. The two biggest impacts are caused by flooding and heat–according to Harriet Tregoning, the former director of the District of Columbia Office of Planning and the current director of the New Urban Mobility alliance at the World Resources Institute. This article was published as part of their Covering Climate Now event, a global collaboration between two hundred news outlets to increase news coverage of climate stories.


High temperatures impact the stability of our rails creating a need for more repair and closures. Construction workers might be unable to work overnight for these repairs to occur to Metro and roads. The VRE, over the past four years, has seen a steady increase in heat orders like heat restrictions that require trains to run 20 mph slower. This is according to Joe Swartz, chief-of-staff of VRE. Amtrak and Metro run a similar policy for their trains, where the heat of the rails are measured and train speeds slowed down accordingly.


Heat can cause rails to buckle, which can cause derailments. Slower speeds can help engineers visually spot a heat kink and stop the train in time to avoid derailment. This means about a 8-10 minute delay for VRE riders. Heat orders are typically issued over a roughly 108-day period between April and September. Between 2016 and 2018, roughly 27 days a year required heat orders. That nearly doubled in 2019, with 49 such days. In July, they were necessary during 90 percent of the month.



With more flooding in the future, it’s worth looking at what happened when record-breaking flooding coincided with morning rush hour in August: high-water rescues on the roads, power outages, and delayed transit services. Climate change can cause frequent intense storms, which can overwhelm the capacity of storm sewers. It’s very possible that we’ll see more examples of water pouring into a Metro station, down the escalators, or even into your train.


WMATA didn’t respond to direct questions about how the Metro intends to respond to extreme weather, except to say that it’s working on “several projects that directly relate to climate adaption,” a spokesperson said. This includes raising vent shafts, sealing tunnels, and upgrading pumping stations. Mayor Muriel Bowser has invested $5.7 million over five years to fund a digital flood model of the District to predict catastrophic flooding that might impact the Metro or roads. “The mayor’s investment of better understanding our flood risk will identify the areas that are more at risk of flooding,” he says.


Extreme weather can cause commuters to change their transit patterns. More obvious commute options affected are modes like biking and walking to work as severe weather deters even short distance commuters. The article cites a DC bike commuter named Brianne Eby who is quoted as saying, “I’m a bike commuter, so this is near and dear to my heart. You need to have a variety of options. If I can’t bike, I have to rely on public transit. This is about improving modes of operation.” Eby, who worked in transportation policy, believes that organizations like WMATA, Amtrak, VRE and the DC Department of Transportation need to publicly address how heat, rain or other weather events will affect public transit and how they plan to overcome these obstacles.


According to the interagency Sustainability DC 2.0 plan, the D.C. government is pushing for more commuters to consider options other than a personal car, including by expanding the D.C. Streetcar and improving biking infrastructure. D.C.’s long-term plan is to expand the current bike lane network to include 44 miles of protected lanes and prioritize bike lanes east of the Anacostia River. It also aims to increase the number of Capital Bikeshare stations from 278 to 325 by 2020. And polarizing feelings about scooters aside, D.C.’s first resilience officer, Kevin Bush said increasing access to electric scooters in the city is not just about reducing carbon pollution but also giving people more transportation options.


Via DCist article “Climate Change Is Already Impacting The Region’s Public Transit” by Chelsea Cirruzzo