Interstate 295 in Virginia

Interstate 295 in Virginia is the 52.73-mile-long bypass of Richmond and Petersburg. It provides a north-south bypass of I-95 for both cities, and an east-west bypass of I-64 for Richmond, and it also provides a bypass for through traffic between I-95 north of Richmond and I-64 east of Richmond. I-295 runs from the I-95 interchange south of Petersburg in Prince George County to the I-64 interchange west of Richmond near Short Pump in Henrico County.

The terrain that I-295 traverses is gently rolling. I-295 serves the city of Hopewell, the Fort Lee U.S. Army Base near Petersburg and Hopewell, and the Richmond International Airport near Sandston. I-295 crosses one major transportation barrier, the James River and its shipping channel at the Dutch Gap portion of the river, with the 6-lane almost-one-mile-long Varina-Enon Bridge, a fixed high-level cable-stayed bridge with 145 feet of vertical navigational clearance.

I-295 passes through mostly rural areas, as it passes outside most of the urbanized areas in the Richmond-Petersburg area. It runs east of the cities of Petersburg and Colonial Heights, and through the west edge of the city of Hopewell, serving a metropolitan area of 130 thousand population called the Tri-Cities. I-295 bypasses the city of Richmond, the state capital, a metropolitan area of 800 thousand population.

Route openings. The 15.3-mile-long northeast quadrant from I-95 to I-64 and US-60 at Seven Pines was opened in 3 sections from July 2 to October 30, 1980. The 9.6-mile-long northwest quadrant from I-95 to I-64 at Short Pump opened on February 2, 1981. The 6.0 miles from US-60 to VA-5 at Varina opened on Oct. 7, 1988. The 6.8 miles from VA-5 to VA-10, which includes the Varina-Enon Bridge, opened on July 18, 1990. The 5.9 miles from VA-10 to VA-36 at Hopewell opened on January 21, 1992. The last section of I-295 to be completed was the 9.3 miles from VA-36 to I-95 south of Petersburg, and this opened on June 26, 1992. This was the final link in the Virginia Interstate highway system authorized in the federal highway acts of 1956 and 1968. I-295 cost almost $500 million for engineering, right-of-way, and construction.

Traffic volumes on I-295 vary considerably. VDOT 1997 traffic volume data follows. Figures are published rounded to the nearest 100. From I-64 at Short Pump to US-33, I-295 carries 30,000 annual average daily traffic (AADT) with 9% large trucks, from US-33 to I-95 ranges from 39,000 to 44,000 with 8% large trucks. From I-95 to US-360 carries volume ranging from 68,000 to 78,000 AADT with 10% large trucks, and the highest volume is just north of US-360. From US-360 to the I-64 collector-distributor (C-D) roads, traffic ranges from 58,000 to 48,000, decreasing to the south, and the truck percentage is 9%. The AADT on the two C-D (2.49mi SB, 2.18mi NB) roads is not listed, but the mainline volume is listed at 16,400 with 9% large trucks. The Varina-Enon Bridge carries 23,000 AADT with 20% large trucks. From VA-10 to US-460 ranges from 18,600 to 19,600 with 20% large trucks, and from US-460 to I-95 south of Petersburg carries 15,900 with 21% large trucks.

Number of lanes. In 2000, I-295 in Virginia has 6 lanes on the northwest quadrant (I-95 north to I-64 at Short Pump), 8 lanes on the northeast quadrant (I-95 north to I-64 at Sandston), 6 lanes from I-64 to VA-36 at Hopewell, and 4 lanes from VA-36 to I-95 south of Petersburg. At the north end of the collector-distributor (C-D) roadways at the I-64 interchange, the 8-lane mainline reduces to 6 lanes southward, with the 2-lane C-D roadways paralleling the mainline for over 2 miles southward, intercepting all the ramps and loops of the cloverleaf interchanges at I-64 and US-60. Technically this C-D section could be called a 10-lane section of I-295, since the entire section has mainline alignment and transitions built to Interstate standards.

Major Interstate widening projects on I-295: none in the past, none planned. This highway has plenty of capacity to handle present and future traffic.

Interchange improvements to the eastern I-64/I-295 interchange, near Sandston, Virginia. A new semi-directional ramp from I-295 southbound to I-64 eastbound was completed and opened in June 2001. This was a $13.4 million project to provide a 2-lane high-speed ramp to replace the existing loop ramp for this movement. The ramp is 4,480 feet long. The flyover bridge has 12 spans and is 1,580 feet long. The ramp also includes a bridge about 150 feet long over a CSXT railroad spur line. When the interchange was opened in 1979, it was built as a full cloverleaf interchange with long collector-distributor (C-D) roadways on each Interstate, to intercept all the interchanging movements. All the loops remain in place along with the C-D roadways. The loop that formerly handled this movement, has one lane with a design speed of about 35 mph, and it had become inadequate for the major Interstate-to-Interstate movement that it handled. The fact that it was able to work at all for this movement, is because the C-D roadways separated the loop from direct interface with the two Interstates. The outer ramp that is the converse of this movement, from I-64 westbound to I-295 northbound, was widened from its original one lane, to two lanes, about 5 years ago. These two ramps are the really high traffic ones in this interchange, since they handle the movements for the I-64 through traffic that uses I-295 to bypass Richmond, and they handle the movements for through traffic between I-95 north of Richmond and I-64 east of Richmond, that uses I-295 to bypass Richmond. Both ramps have two lanes throughout, with 55 mph or higher design speeds. I drove the new ramp, and it is very nice, a well-signed movement that leaves I-295 from the right side of the highway about a mile south of the former C-D roadway exit, passes on a flyover bridge over I-64 and I-295, curves to the east, and merges into the I-64 C-D roadway, which merges into I-64 about a mile further down. Like I said, it is two lanes throughout, and a very smooth high-speed connection between the two Interstates. It has a 10-foot paved shoulder on one side and a 6-foot paved shoulder on the other side.

The western I-64/I-295 interchange, near Short Pump, has a project planned to provide a 2-lane semi-directional ramp for the movement from eastbound I-64 to eastbound I-295 (the current movement is a one-lane loop), and to relocate and widen to 2 lanes the ramp for the movement from westbound I-295 to westbound I-64. Construction is expected to begin in late 2005.

New interchanges added to the original I-295 are: The Route 895 interchange (I-295 Exit 25) started construction in 1999, and was completed in November 2002.

For more details, see my articles:
Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike (I-95/I-85) and I-295
Richmond Beltway (I-295 and VA-288)

Route 895 - Pocahontas Parkway
Richmond Interstates and Expressways

See Kurumi's Kurumi: Interstate 295 for I-295 in Virginia.

Copyright 2000-2004 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

Lead article Interstate Highway System in Virginia

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By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 5-30-2000, updated 3-1-2004)