Home Stay alert: VDOT suspends highway work zones, lifts lane closures for holiday travel

Stay alert: VDOT suspends highway work zones, lifts lane closures for holiday travel

Rebecca Barnabi
road construction
(© jhansen2 – stock.adobe.com)

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will suspend many highway work zones and lift most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon on Friday, December 22, 2023 through noon on Tuesday, December 26.

Suspensions and closures will resume at noon on Friday, December 29 through noon on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. However, motorists may encounter semi-permanent work zones that remain in place during this time. Check VDOT’s Travel Advisories for the latest travel alerts in your area and around the state.

VDOT offers several resources to help plan travel ahead of time.

Travel trends map helps predict peak congestion

VDOT’s online, interactive travel trends map shows peak congestion periods anticipated on Virginia interstates during the upcoming Christmas and New Year holiday period. Click on the link Christmas trend or New Year trend to toggle between the periods of travel influenced by these holidays.

Based on pre-pandemic and the last two year’s travel patterns, periods of heavy congestion are most likely to occur from mid-morning to evening on Friday and Saturday before Christmas, as well as Tuesday through Thursday the following week due to a combination of holiday and commuter traffic before the New Year.

Notable congested areas are:

  • I-95 northbound and southbound in the Fredericksburg area: Since this map uses historical data it does not consider the recent extension of express lanes. However, based on the general traffic shifts in the post pandemic period, heavy congestion may still be expected during the periods mentioned above in the Fredericksburg area.
  • I-395 northbound and southbound in the Arlington area is expected to be busy throughout the holiday period.
  • I-77 northbound and southbound near the Big Walker Tunnel is expected to have heavy traffic in the morning hours of Friday before Christmas.
  • Hampton Roads area: Heavier congestion is possible on I-64 due to lane and shoulder closures related to various construction activities including Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT).

Plan ahead with VDOT 511: Real-time traffic information at your fingertips

VDOT’s free mobile 511 app offers information about construction, traffic, incidents and congestion as well as access to traffic cameras, weather, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and more. Use 511’s “speak ahead” option for hands-free and eyes-free audible traffic alerts for incidents and construction along your route. Traffic information is also available at 511Virginia.org or by calling 511 from any phone.

Northern Virginia express lanes schedule and other information

  • All rush-hour tolls on the I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway will be lifted on Monday, Dec. 25 and Monday, Jan. 1.
  • Find directional schedules for the reversible I-95 and I-395 Express Lanes, and information for the I-495 Express Lanes at www.expresslanes.com.

Hampton Road HOV schedule, tunnels and other information

  • I-64/I-264/I-564 HOV Diamond Lanes and 64 Express Lanes – HOV restrictions and Express Lanes tolls will be lifted on Monday, Dec. 25 and Monday, Jan. 1.
  • Traveling through Hampton Roads – For end-of-year holiday travel requiring water crossings between the Hampton Roads Peninsula and Southside during construction of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes such as the I-664 Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (MMMBT), the Route 17 James River Bridge, the free Jamestown-Scotland Ferry or I-95 to minimize potential delays

Stay safe

Everyone is responsible for driving safely. Do your part to make travel safer for all:

  • In the event of any winter weather threat, travelers should pay close attention to forecasts, official announcements and advisories, and should adjust travel based on conditions
  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle in case of a breakdown in the cold
  • Buckle up and ensure passengers and car seats are secured
  • Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
  • Use your signals for lane changes and turns
  • Don’t drive distracted, and speak up if someone else is doing so
  • Drive sober and contact law enforcement if you see a drunk driver

Virginia’s “Move Over” Law expanded on July 1, 2023 to include all vehicles on the side of the road with flashing lights, flares or warning signs. Drivers must move over or slow down when a vehicle is stopped on the side of a Virginia road.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.