Interstate 495 in Virginia

Interstate 495 in Virginia is the 22.06-mile-long freeway from the District of Columbia border (Potomac River) in the City of Alexandria to the Maryland border (Potomac River) near Cabin John, Md. It is part of the 64-mile-long I-495 Capital Beltway that encircles Washington, D.C. The I-495 Capital Beltway encompasses 44 more miles in Maryland, so the entire circumferential highway is 64 miles long.

The terrain that I-495 crosses in Virginia is gently rolling, and the highway serves the cities and towns of Alexandria, Springfield, Fairfax, Falls Church and Tysons Corner. I-495 crosses two major transportation barriers as it crosses the Potomac River in two places, the 6,120-foot-long Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va., and the American Legion Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River near Cabin John, Md.

When I-495 was completed in 1964 in both states, most of it was in rural areas outside of urbanized areas. Today, the area near the Beltway in both states is highly developed with a number of cities along the Beltway. I-495 provides a complete Interstate highway bypass of the Washington, D.C. area, a metropolitan area of 4.7 million population. The eastern half of the Beltway also carries the I-95 designation, added in 1977 after the original plans to build I-95 through the District of Columbia were cancelled.

Route openings. The first 6.69 miles of I-495 opened in Virginia on Dec. 16, 1961, the section from Shirley Highway to US-50. The 0.82 miles of I-495 in Virginia from US-1 to the state line, along with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Maryland approaches, opened on December 28, 1961. On Dec. 31, 1962, 4.67 miles opened from the state line at the ALB, to the VA-7 interchange. The 3.14 miles from US-50 to VA-7 opened on Oct. 2, 1963. The last 6.74 miles, from Shirley Highway to US-1, opened on April 2, 1964.

Traffic Volumes on I-495 are very high, with some variation. VDOT 1997 average daily traffic volume data follows, and figures are published rounded to the nearest 100. The American Legion Bridge carries 204,000 AADT with 9% large trucks; between VA-267 and VA-193 carries 192,000 AADT; between US-50 and I-66 carries 222,000, between VA-236 and VA-620 carries 187,000, and just west of I-95/I-395 Shirley Highway carries 202,000; all these sections carry 9% large trucks. East of Shirley Highway, I-95 and I-495 both overlap on the Beltway. Just east of I-95/I-395 Shirley Highway, I-495 carries 164,000, from VA-241 to US-1 it carries 161,000, and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge carries 173,000 AADT; and all these sections carry 9% large trucks. Actually traffic engineering counts in mid-1999 show that the volume on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge has increased to 190,000 and 11% large trucks.

Number of Lanes. In 2000, I-495 in Virginia has 10 lanes across the American Legion Bridge. It has 8 lanes for 22 miles from the George Washington Parkway interchange near the ALB, to US-1 at Alexandria. I-495 has 6 lanes from US-1, across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge into Maryland. See my I-95/I-495 Capital Beltway article for details in Maryland.

Major Interstate widening projects. See my I-95/I-495 Capital Beltway article.

For detailed information about the I-495 Capital Beltway in Virginia and Maryland, see my articles Capital Beltway (I-495 and I-95) and Springfield Interchange Project and Woodrow Wilson Bridge (I-495 and I-95). See Kurumi's Kurumi: Interstate 495 for I-495 in Virginia.

Lead article Interstate Highway System in Virginia

Copyright 2000-2003 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

Back to top

By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 5-31-2000, updated 12-21-2003)