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Author Topic: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95  (Read 4863 times)

cpzilliacus

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VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« on: February 19, 2017, 12:36:09 PM »

WTOP Radio: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95

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The Virginia Department of Transportation is studying what can be done to improve safety and avoid future congestion on U.S. 301 as it looks to push the highway as a primary alternate to Interstate 95.

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Right now, the highway has generally been a well-kept secret for drivers wanting to ditch chronic slowdowns on the interstate and take a more scenic drive to the east.

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But, VDOT says it plans to encourage people to use U.S. 301 when construction on three big interchange projects on I-95 get underway.

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With Maryland recently announcing plans to widen the Harry Nice Bridge over the Potomac River and the road already being a viable commuting option for those traveling between Fredericksburg and D.C., the department is trying to jump ahead of any future development.

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VDOT wants to make sure the infrastructure is in place ahead of time to avoid retrofitting projects such as the U.S. 17 widening effort in Stafford County, Virginia.

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The department states that this study will find the necessary improvements to handle extra traffic, and identify strategies to promote U.S. 301 and Virginia Route 207, which is a popular connector between I-95 and U.S. 301.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2017, 12:55:26 PM »

Fredericksburg.com/Free Lance Star: Study to focus on future of 301 corridor

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It’s no secret that transportation planners struggle to keep pace with growth spawned by development, which seems to have opened an insurmountable lead on the road infrastructure system in the Fredericksburg area.

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A study of the U.S. 301 corridor in King George and Caroline counties aims to buck that trend and get ahead of the curve.

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The Virginia Department of Transportation started work this month on the two-phase study that will cover a 42-mile stretch of U.S. 301 and Route 207, from U.S. 1 in Caroline to the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge in King George.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 01:03:08 PM »

It'll be interesting to see, in the sat-nav era, what impact this sort of thing actually has.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2017, 01:11:19 PM »

It'll be interesting to see, in the sat-nav era, what impact this sort of thing actually has.

Agreed. 

There have been long queues on summer and holiday weekends getting to and across the Gov. Harry W. Nice Bridge.  This is not a new problem either, as it has been happening since the 1990's and maybe before.  I can recall when  the bridge deck was replaced on the HWN in the 1980's, the queues were not that bad, even though traffic had to share a lane, with alternating one-way operation.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2017, 02:25:16 PM »

Quote
Right now, the highway has generally been a well-kept secret for drivers wanting to ditch chronic slowdowns on the interstate and take a more scenic drive to the east.

...only to hit their own slowdowns in Waldorf and PGC...

</snark>
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 03:29:30 PM »

If touting 301 was going to be the thought, they probably should've started the study sooner given these construction timelines:

VA 3 interchange project: starts fall 2017
Rappahannock River Project (US 17 Falmouth interchange project with C/D lanes over the river to connect with VA 3): starts 2017
SR 630 interchange relocation: parts involving the interstate start early 2018

Also several smaller bridges are undergoing rehab over next couple years though supposedly mostly at night...

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 05:24:05 PM »

Quote
Right now, the highway has generally been a well-kept secret for drivers wanting to ditch chronic slowdowns on the interstate and take a more scenic drive to the east.

...only to hit their own slowdowns in Waldorf and PGC...

</snark>


How much worse is Waldorf going SB than NB?   I went through Waldorf SB once at 8 PM on a Friday and it will still bumper-to-bumper along the MD 5 duplex.

Though unless you are staying along the east coast south of NYC, it seems to be that for most others that sneaking west to I-81 (via US 17 or other routes) is much more beneficial. (Living around Harrisburg now, this is obviously the case for me.  When I head to VA, the only congestion I usually experience on I-81 SB leaving Harrisburg at 3 PM on Thursday is at the merge with PA 581.)   
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Jmiles32

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 06:17:37 PM »

Is a US-301 bypass of Waldorf feasible? Virginia should just post the travel times from Ruther Glen to the Potomac River(Maryland) via I-95 and Va-207&US-301 because right now I doubt US-301 is any faster in Maryland then I-95 is in Virginia. Hats off to King George County for not falling into the sprawl trap and keeping US-301 in VA pretty much traffic free.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 07:36:24 PM »

Quote
Right now, the highway has generally been a well-kept secret for drivers wanting to ditch chronic slowdowns on the interstate and take a more scenic drive to the east.

...only to hit their own slowdowns in Waldorf and PGC...

</snark>

Waldorf?  IMO all bets are off when you hit La Plata (assuming you mean NB)...

ixnay
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 08:23:33 PM »

We've had some very good success with some local roads and state highways just outside of Waldorf and La Plata to bypass the mess 301 can be through there.  But north of there, we've sometimes hit other messes that seem harder to find a way around.  Still less frustrating than I-95 around the beltway and in northernmost Virginia, when those are bad.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2017, 08:35:42 PM »

We've had some very good success with some local roads and state highways just outside of Waldorf and La Plata to bypass the mess 301 can be through there.  But north of there, we've sometimes hit other messes that seem harder to find a way around.  Still less frustrating than I-95 around the beltway and in northernmost Virginia, when those are bad.

Once as a test, I used MD 234-MD 236-MD 5-MD 231-MD 2/4-MD 2 to Annapolis just to see if it might be viable if I ever had to go through that section of Maryland.  Though I have learned since that minus a complete disaster traffic-wise I am just as good to use US 15 (if there are problems on I-81 between Winchester and Harrisburg) or US 522 (if there are problems on I-95 south of Fredericksburg).
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cpzilliacus

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 10:47:51 PM »

Quote
Right now, the highway has generally been a well-kept secret for drivers wanting to ditch chronic slowdowns on the interstate and take a more scenic drive to the east.

...only to hit their own slowdowns in Waldorf and PGC...

</snark>

Also LaPlata, if you have come through there on an especially heavy travel day, as the signalized intersection of U.S. 301 and MD-6 can cause pretty long queues on 301 in one or both directions (though the HWN Bridge does have something of a "ramp meter" impact for northbound traffic).
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cpzilliacus

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 11:06:33 PM »

If touting 301 was going to be the thought, they probably should've started the study sooner given these construction timelines:

VA 3 interchange project: starts fall 2017
Rappahannock River Project (US 17 Falmouth interchange project with C/D lanes over the river to connect with VA 3): starts 2017
SR 630 interchange relocation: parts involving the interstate start early 2018

Also several smaller bridges are undergoing rehab over next couple years though supposedly mostly at night...

I just wonder if the people at VDOT (either Central Office in Richmond or the Fredericksburg District, I suppose) have talked to anyone at MDTA or at Maryland SHA about any of this.  Not that Maryland can do much beyond what they are working on now, to replace the HWN Bridge, but that's not going to be complete until sometime in the next decade (2023?).

Will there be much in the way of planned lane closures on I-95 around these projects? 

The interchange at VA-630 (Exit 140, Stafford, Courthouse Road) is well beyond its useful life span, and I believe it dates back to the construction of I-95 as a four-lane freeway (I do not recall it being changed much when I-95 was widened in one massive project in the 1980's (IIRC, from Ashland in Hanover County to Chopawamsic Creek at the MCB Quantico (Exit 148, Russell Road) interchange)).
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cpzilliacus

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 11:13:57 PM »

Once as a test, I used MD 234-MD 236-MD 5-MD 231-MD 2/4-MD 2 to Annapolis just to see if it might be viable if I ever had to go through that section of Maryland.  Though I have learned since that minus a complete disaster traffic-wise I am just as good to use US 15 (if there are problems on I-81 between Winchester and Harrisburg) or US 522 (if there are problems on I-95 south of Fredericksburg).

Heading from the I-95 corridor in Virginia to someplace along the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, that can be a winning route, though I started on U.S. 301 from I-295 north of Richmond, staying with 301 (the two-lane portion of 301 between I-295 and VA-207 works at the (mostly) posted 55 MPH speed limit even when I-95 is solid-red, though it is a good idea to be aware of that limit at all times, this being Virginia) all the way to MD-234 E, then following the route you enumerated above.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 11:24:47 PM by cpzilliacus »
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1995hoo

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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2017, 09:25:44 AM »

Quote
Will there be much in the way of planned lane closures on I-95 around these projects?

The WTOP article neglects to mention the plans for extending the HO/T lanes ten miles south to the US-17 interchange (Exit 133), though there again I don't know what sort of lane closures there might be, if any.

Last I saw, I think they were planning a DDI for Exit 140, correct? (Yeah, I could look it up, but I'm feeling lazy and I'm having more fun watching a squirrel out the window.)
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2017, 10:08:49 AM »

Correct, a DDI is the plan for the Stafford interchange, plus a new SR 630 alignment from just west of I-95 to Route 1, tying into Route 1 at Stafford Hospital.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2017, 10:17:27 AM »

I think it's nice that they're planning ahead for the inevitable, as traffic demands will one day warrant a full expressway conversion to match the MD side.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2017, 10:37:48 AM »


The WTOP article neglects to mention the plans for extending the HO/T lanes ten miles south to the US-17 interchange (Exit 133), though there again I don't know what sort of lane closures there might be, if any.

Last I saw, I think they were planning a DDI for Exit 140, correct? (Yeah, I could look it up, but I'm feeling lazy and I'm having more fun watching a squirrel out the window.)

When the lanes were extended south from Dumfries they closed the left shoulders for long stretches but did not have to do much actual lane closures outside of the flyover location at the current south end.  The extension to US 17 will likely be similar though I do not know if/how they intend for express lane users to reach SR 630 (could use upcoming new south end ramp) or Centreport Pkwy.

The VA 3 interchange project could make the I-95 SB backup (typically starts at US 17) worse because a main component of the project is to take the ramp from 95 SB to VA 3 WB and split it into two options (look at the east side of Exit 143 - it will be the same).  There will need to be at least some lane closures at night for all of these interchange projects and typically VDOT allows them during the day outside of rush hour as well.

During the best of times 301 from Waldorf north is busy and a little dangerous at 55 mph with all the access points.  SB you can sometimes get stuck at the lane drop approaching the MD 5 tie-in.  It used to be worse before they improved the portion of the MD 5 overlay.

I used to use Bel Alton Rd-MD 6-MD 5-MD 231-MD 2 all the time but under no circumstances is this faster anymore than 301.  Too much development on MD 5 and Prince Frederick.  But it is generally more peaceful.

I can attest that 301 between I-295 and Bowling Green has never been very crowded in the 22 years I've been using it regularly as a back door to Fredericksburg.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2017, 11:19:01 AM »

I use US-301 from time to time just for a change of pace from I-95, although given where I live I use MD-210 and MD-228 to connect to it because it's more direct for me. The real trick going that way is keeping your speed down on Route 210!

I might head over there this afternoon when we take the convertible out, although I suppose I should look at my Travel Mapping to see which roads I should explore.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2017, 01:22:07 PM »


The WTOP article neglects to mention the plans for extending the HO/T lanes ten miles south to the US-17 interchange (Exit 133), though there again I don't know what sort of lane closures there might be, if any.

Last I saw, I think they were planning a DDI for Exit 140, correct? (Yeah, I could look it up, but I'm feeling lazy and I'm having more fun watching a squirrel out the window.)

When the lanes were extended south from Dumfries they closed the left shoulders for long stretches but did not have to do much actual lane closures outside of the flyover location at the current south end.  The extension to US 17 will likely be similar though I do not know if/how they intend for express lane users to reach SR 630 (could use upcoming new south end ramp) or Centreport Pkwy.

It's most likely that once the express lanes are extended to US-17, the current 2 mile extension just past Garrisonville road will become the new express lanes exit for both SR 630 Courthouse Rd(Exit 140) and Centreport Pkwy(Exit 136). I would think really the only construction that may affect the regular lanes would be near the already atrocious US-17 (Exit 133) area where the express lanes will join back the with regular lanes(Prediction:This end point of the express lanes will be even worse then the current one at Garrsionville Rd). This is of course on top of the Southbound Rappahannock River Crossing project and the VA-3 interchange project so yes its gonna get a hella lot worse before it gets any better on I-95 in Fredricksburg.

Also more on topic, VDOT can really only use US-301 as northbound alternative to I-95. Whats the alternative for southbound travelers? I highly doubt Maryland would post compared travel times from north of Baltimore to Richmond via I-95 and US-301, so I guess VDOT would hope southbond travelers just remember?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 01:40:49 PM by Jmiles32 »
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2017, 04:27:27 PM »

Are there any "Alternative Interstate 95" signs along US 301? If not, perhaps they should install some. Here in Madison, there are Alternative Interstate 39/94 signs along Stoughton Road (US 51). Alternative 94 runs from the US 51 interchange on Interstate 39/90/94 (Exit 132) to the junction of US 51 and WIS 30. There Alternative 94 heads east on 30 to the WIS 30/Interstates 39/90/94 Interchange (Exit 138). Alternate 39 follows the same route as Alternate 94, but continues south of WIS 30 all the way to the Beltline (US 12/18). Then it rides the Beltline back to Interstates 39/90 (Exit 142).
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2017, 06:23:41 PM »

Sadly, bypasses of Waldorf and La Plata are likely to be as great a lightning rod for controversy as the ICC and the Baltimore Outer Beltway, especially since I'm not aware if MDOT SHA owns any right-of-way. However, there is one project that could be accelerated right now and would provide HUGE benefits for long-distance traffic avoiding I-95:

http://apps.roads.maryland.gov/WebProjectLifeCycle/ProjectInformation.aspx?projectno=PG2881116

http://apps.roads.maryland.gov/WebProjectLifeCycle/PG288_11/HTDOCS/Maps/Displays_for_Workshop/Alt2%20_new%20swm_m197.pdf

Governor Hogan has already been busy bringing forward the scheduling of projects in western and eastern Maryland, which needed such work, but this is one central Maryland project that is worthy of being brought forward IMO.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2017, 12:21:52 PM »

Are there any "Alternative Interstate 95" signs along US 301? If not, perhaps they should install some. Here in Madison, there are Alternative Interstate 39/94 signs along Stoughton Road (US 51). Alternative 94 runs from the US 51 interchange on Interstate 39/90/94 (Exit 132) to the junction of US 51 and WIS 30. There Alternative 94 heads east on 30 to the WIS 30/Interstates 39/90/94 Interchange (Exit 138). Alternate 39 follows the same route as Alternate 94, but continues south of WIS 30 all the way to the Beltline (US 12/18). Then it rides the Beltline back to Interstates 39/90 (Exit 142).

I have never seen either Maryland SHA or Virginia DOT ever post an "alternative" sign for an Interstate.

Pennsylvania does have colored signs showing alternates for many (most) of its freeways (Wikipedia entry here), but those nearly all end at the state line or very close to it (I think  there used to be one or two on I-83 northbound in Baltimore County, Maryland just before the state line but now seem to be gone, here is one on MD-45 (complete with a Pennsylvania No Littering sign)).
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2017, 01:13:01 PM »

Are there any "Alternative Interstate 95" signs along US 301? If not, perhaps they should install some. Here in Madison, there are Alternative Interstate 39/94 signs along Stoughton Road (US 51). Alternative 94 runs from the US 51 interchange on Interstate 39/90/94 (Exit 132) to the junction of US 51 and WIS 30. There Alternative 94 heads east on 30 to the WIS 30/Interstates 39/90/94 Interchange (Exit 138). Alternate 39 follows the same route as Alternate 94, but continues south of WIS 30 all the way to the Beltline (US 12/18). Then it rides the Beltline back to Interstates 39/90 (Exit 142).

I have never seen either Maryland SHA or Virginia DOT ever post an "alternative" sign for an Interstate.

Pennsylvania does have colored signs showing alternates for many (most) of its freeways (Wikipedia entry here), but those nearly all end at the state line or very close to it (I think  there used to be one or two on I-83 northbound in Baltimore County, Maryland just before the state line but now seem to be gone, here is one on MD-45 (complete with a Pennsylvania No Littering sign)).

Funny you mentioned those PA Detour signs.  I've yet to hear them mentioned in relation to PA's biggest detour going on right now...the PA/NJ Turnpike connector bridge.  In fact, I can't think of a time I've ever heard them actually used, even though they are seemingly all over the state.
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Re: VDOT plans to push US 301 as alternative to I-95
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2017, 01:51:40 PM »

Back when my parents were still together, my dad would do the driving every year on our way from our home north of Baltimore (in Harford County) to Myrtle Beach for our family vacation, which doubled as a visit of my mother's mother, who lived down there (and still does). My dad took the following route: I-95 to I-895, through Baltimore's Harbor Tunnel, and to I-97, then Route 3 to 301, across the Potomac into Virginia, then Route 207 back to I-95 for about 20 miles, then I-295 around Richmond and Petersburg, and once again back to I-95, which we would take into North Carolina; then we would get off at U.S. 74 just south of Lumberton, take that to Route 410, and then take U.S. 701 into South Carolina, and finally follow Route 9 to the coast.

My mom hated all of the traffic lights along 301. She prefers sitting in I-95 traffic for some reason. She and my dad got divorced in the fall of 2006 (no, it wasn't related to that at all), and our first Myrtle Beach trip without my dad was in June 2007 for my grandmother's 85th birthday party. With my mom now free to take her own route, we took the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from Baltimore to D.C., went across the Wilson Bridge into Virginia (that was when it was being reconstructed), and then took I-95 from the Springfield Interchange to Richmond, went around Richmond-Petersburg via 295 like we had done before, then rejoined I-95, went through North Carolina and then took the 74-410-701-9 way like we always did.

In 2008, we started taking I-95 straight through downtown Richmond and Petersburg. Then in 2014, we started taking the Capital Betlway around D.C. instead of actually going through D.C. But my mom continues to avoid 301 despite NoVA's constant traffic issues. I will say in her defense, though, that we haven't seemed to encounter as much traffic along that stretch of 95 since the extension of the HOV lanes into Stafford County.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that my dad was ahead of VDOT by a good two decades, and that my mom, on the other hand, will continue to take I-95 through NoVA as a "forget you" to VDOT.
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