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Interstate 395 Virginia / District of Columbia

 

Routing

Interstate 395 in Virginia is the Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway and in the District of Columbia is the Southwest Freeway. The highway starts at Interstates 95 and 495 near Springfield, Virginia, and it continues north into downtown Washington. The freeway is an important artery serving the Virginia communities of Fairfax County, Arlington, and Alexandria.

One of the features of Interstate 395 is reversible high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. These lanes are located within the median of the main travel lanes on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. These carry two lanes of traffic, with ramps to each interchange. The reversible HOV lanes on Interstate 395 and Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia are "HOV-3," which means they require vehicles to have three occupants during morning (6:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.) and afternoon (3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.) commuting hours. Motorcycles, alternative fuel vehicles and emergency vehicles are exempt from the HOV restrictions.1

The northern portion of Interstate 395 in the District of Columbia travels under the National Mall, just a bit west of the U.S. Capitol building, almost directly under the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Interstate 395 emerges from this long tunnel just before the freeway terminates at U.S. 50 (New York Avenue).

High Priority Corridor

Interstate 395 through metropolitan Washington, D.C., is part of High Priority Corridor 33: Capital Gateway Corridor for its entire length.

History

Before Interstate 95 was rerouted around the Capital Beltway, Interstate 395 was originally signed as Interstate 95. The freeway was proposed to continue northward through the city, linking with a never-constructed section Interstate 66 and 295 on the way. A short section of the highway was built just to the south of the northern Interstate 95/495. This now serves as a access road to a park and ride lot.

Planned Improvements

The southern terminus of Interstate 395 is a part of the VDOT Springfield Interchange project. This construction will result in a major facelift for the existing interchange, a project that will endure seven years. See the Interstate 95 Guide for more details.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 - Springfield, Virginia
Perspective from Interstate 395 south
The first mention of the junction with Interstate 95 and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway appears in the high occupancy vehicle lanes about three miles north of the Springfield Interchange, which is where Interstates 95, 395, and 495 converge. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
At this point, traffic for Interstate 95 north and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway depart from the high occupancy vehicle lanes. However, this configuration may change with the reconstruction of the Springfield interchange. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
The penultimate interchange on southbound Interstate 395 is Exit 2, Junction Virginia Secondary 648/Edsell Road. The next junction is with Interstate 95 and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
The right two lane connect to northbound (inner loop) Interstate 495/Capital Beltway, while the three left lanes approach the junction with Interstate 95 north and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway east. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
The next exit is a loop ramp connecting to north Interstate 95 and east Interstate 495. The main lanes will transition directly onto Interstate 95 south. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Interstate 395 ends at the junction with Interstate 95 and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway. Here is the transition onto eastbound Interstate 95/Capital Beltway. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Perspective from Interstate 95 north
Interstates 66 and 270 and Dulles Airport auxiliary sign for Exit 170B on Interstate 95 northbound. These two Interstates extend the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area westward to Front Royal, Virginia and northwestward toward Frederick, Maryland. Similar signage can be found on Interstate 95 southbound as it approaches the Capital Beltway in Maryland. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
A soon to be relic, this two mile diagrammatical overhead shows the current lane configuration of Interstate 95 northbound as it approaches Interstate 395 and the Capital Beltway. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
An older set of overheads for Exits 170A and 170B on Interstate 95 northbound. These overheads have been replaced since this photo was taken. Also note that Interstate 495 used to have the northbound control city of Rockville. This was changed to Tysons Corner in the late 1990s. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (08/29/96).
Interstate 95 northbound near the Franconia-Springfield Parkway interchange. While four lanes overall are in use for Interstate 95, when the route enters the Capital Beltway it is relegated to just a two-lane ramp. This is one of the reasons as to why this traffic congestion plagued interchange is undergoing a massive face lift. The HOV roadway of Interstate 95 continues northward via the median of Interstate 395 to Arlington. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
The travel lanes of Interstate 95 expand to six lanes in anticipation of the Capital Beltway junction. Construction is quite evident of the new Springfield Interchange between the three Interstates. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Northbound Interstate 95 traffic defaults onto Interstate 395 northbound. Traffic to the Capital Beltway departs to the right. The new flyovers of the Springfield Interchange will tower above. This is one of two recent interchange projects in the state of Virginia that have brought a new flair of interchange design to the Interstate system. The other noteworthy project is the western terminus of the new Virginia 895/Pocohontas Parkway south of Richmond. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
With Interstate 95 now departed, Interstate 395 begins as Exit 170B for Interstate 495 westbound prepares to depart. Interstate 395 maintains six to eight lanes as it progresses northward to Alexandria, Arlington, and ultimately Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Exit 170B carries two lanes to Interstate 495 westbound. Interstate 495 serves Annandale, Falls Church, Fairfax, Tysons Corner, and McLean before crossing into Maryland near Bethesda and Rockville. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 north/495 east
Interstate 295 9 miles at Oxon Hill, MD
Interstate 595 26 miles at Ardmore, MD
Interstate 95/495
overlap end
34 miles at Greenbelt, MD
Perspective from Interstate 495 east
The first appearance of the pending junction with Interstate 95 and Interstate 395 at the Springfield Interchange on eastbound Interstate 495 (Capital Beltway Outer Loop) is on this mileage sign, about six miles prior to the massive interchange. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05).
Shortly after the Braddock Road Interchange (Exits 54A-B, Junction Virginia Secondary 620) is this sign for the junction with Interstate 95 and Interstate 395. The right lanes will provide the connection to southbound Interstate 95, while the left lanes connect to Interstate 395 north. Through traffic can stay in the middle lanes to continue northeast on Interstate 95-495/Capital Beltway outer loop to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05).
Five lanes of the Capital Beltway Outer Loop/Interstate 495 eastbound inch toward the southern terminus of Interstate 395 and the merge with Interstate 95. The first ramp exits onto Interstate 95 south, the second ramp connects to Interstate 395 north, and the main lanes continue directly onto Interstate 95-495 north. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05).
Use Exit 57A (Interstate 95 south) to Virginia Secondary 644, Virginia Secondary 7900, Franconia, and Springfield. Use Exit 57B (Interstate 395 north/left exit) to Arlington. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05).
Interstate 495 widens to six lanes. The right lane becomes exit only for southbound Interstate 95. The left lane will eventually become exit only for northbound Interstate 395. This photo comparison shows the changes between 2001 and 2005. In 2001, jersey barriers were present due to the Springfield Interchange project. By 2005, more lanes were added and ramps were relocated and widened. Photos taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05) and AARoads (10/14/01).
A variable message sign is posted on the next set of overheads. The exit only lane for Interstate 95 doubles to two lanes, and the left exit for Interstate 395 is one mile ahead. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05).
Exit 57A for Interstate 95 southbound departs before Interstate 495 intercepts the southern terminus of Interstate 395. Exit 57B for Interstate 395 northbound departs in 0.25 miles with Interstate 95 northbound entering the beltway soon thereafter. Photos taken by Alex Nitzman (07/12/05) and AARoads (10/14/01).
A look at the Interstate 95 southbound ramp from Interstate 495 eastbound with original exit numbers. Exits 4A and 4C were altered to Exit 57A and 57B during the 2001 exit renumbering project of the Capital Beltway. The numbers now count up counterclockwise from milepost 0 at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (08/04/00).
Continuing east, this was the overhead sign for northbound Interstate 395 as seen on Interstate 495 east. Note that the Interstate 95 northbound merge of Interstate 495 was treated as an exit and was given the number Exit 4A. This is no longer the case and rightly so, as traffic just continues straight with Interstate 95 traffic merging onto the Beltway and not vice versa. Vidcap taken by Alex Nitzman (05/27/95).
Perspective from Interstate 95 south/Interstate 495 west (Inner Loop Capital Beltway)
After crossing the Potomac River and serving Alexandria via Exit 177, Junction U.S. 1 and Exit 176, Junction Virginia 241, this mileage sign is the first advance guide sign for the Springfield interchange on southbound Interstate 95 and westbound Interstate 495: Junction Interstate 95, Interstate 395, and Interstate 495/Capital Beltway. The mileage sign also provides the distance to Exit 174, Eisenhower Avenue connector and Exit 173, Junction Virginia Secondary 613/Van Dorn Street. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Southbound Interstate 95 and westbound Interstate 495/Capital Beltway reach Exit 173, Junction Virginia Secondary 613/Van Dorn Street. The next exit is Exit 170, Junction Interstate 395/Henry D. Shirley Memorial Highway north, Interstate 495/Capital Beltway west, and Interstate 95 south. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
In the westbound direction of the Capital Beltway, the northbound exit for Interstate 395/Exit 170B departs first. This photograph shows the one mile guide sign for that exit as the five lanes of Interstate 95/495 push westward. Compare the difference between 2005 and 2001, which show the approach to the Springfield interchange before and after reconstruction. And the large pull-through Interstate 95 sign changed within two weeks! Photos taken by Carter Buchanan (07/01/05), Alex Nitzman (06/17/05) and AARoads (10/14/01).
The lane allocations from left to right are: left two lanes, Interstate 95 south; middle two lanes, Interstate 495/Capital Beltway west; right lane, Interstate 395/Shirley Highway north and Junction Virginia Secondary 644 (Exit 169) to Springfield. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan (07/01/05).
Another set of overhead signs provide for lane allocations, including three lanes for through traffic on Interstate 495/Capital Beltway. One can follow the signs to Virginia Secondary 644 and still remain on Interstate 95: the exit ramp is really more like a collector-distributor ramp (although it is a bit more complicated than normal). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Southbound Interstate 95 and westbound Interstate 495/Capital Beltway reach the exit ramp for Exit 170B, Junction Interstate 395/Shirley Highway north; Exit 170A, Junction Interstate 495/Capital Beltway west (Routes Divide); and Exits 169B-A, Junction Virginia Secondary 644 (Exit 169) to Springfield. Note that although the Virginia Secondary 644 interchange is about a mile south of the Interstate 95-395-495 interchange, one must use this exit now to get to that interchange. From this point, the left two lanes transition onto Interstate 95 south. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Prior to the reconstruction of the interchange, new pier supports for an eventual flyover of the Springfield Interchange project rising high up, Interstate 395 northbound departs via Exit 170B. Interstate 95 and 495 will part ways in one quarter mile. Photo taken by AARoads (10/14/01).
Again prior to reconstruction, these two lanes used to facilitate the mainline of Interstate 95 southward from the Capital Beltway on a right-hand exit. It is this reduced capacity that causes routine traffic delays on a daily basis. Interstate 95 generally sees heavy traffic from the Potomac River southward to Stafford (Exit 140). See photos from 2005 above for the new configuration. Photo taken by AARoads (10/14/01).
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
From the Interstate 95 main lanes, which rise onto the flyover that is shown under construction in the next photobox, one can see the exit to Exit 170B, Junction Interstate 395 north to Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Now transitioning through the Springfield Interchange on southbound Interstate 95, the two-lane ramp flies high above the complicated interchange, then prepares to travel down to merge with traffic outbound on Interstate 395/Shirley Highway. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
The main lanes approach the interchange with Virginia Secondary 644 (Exits 169B-A). Although there is no access to Virginia Secondary 644 from these lanes, there is access from the aforementioned collector-distributor lanes. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/17/05).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 95 south
Interstate 295 86 miles at Glen Hill, VA
Interstate 64
overlap begin/
Interstate 195
91 miles at Richmond, VA
Interstate 64
overlap end
95 miles at Richmond, VA
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 495 west
Interstate 66 8 miles at Oxon Hill, MD
Spur Interstate 270 19 miles at Ardmore, MD
Interstate 95/495
overlap begin
30 miles at Greenbelt, MD
Northern Terminus - U.S. 50 - New York Avenue - Washington, District of Columbia
Perspective from Interstate 395 north
2000 feet from the northern terminus, Interstate 395 enters its the final in a series of tunnels through downtown Washington. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Upon reemerging from the last tunnel, Interstate 395 ascends to its terminus at New York Avenue - U.S. 50. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Traffic is defaulted onto U.S. 50 east/New York Avenue at the north end of the Interstate 395 freeway. U.S. 50 transitions to a freeway in 2.50 miles and departs the District of Columbia to New Carrollton and Annapolis. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Turning onto U.S. 50 east/New York Avenue. U.S. 50 parallels nearby U.S. 1/Rhode Island Avenue to the south. An Alternate U.S. 1 connects the U.S. 50 freeway with U.S. 1 at Bladensburg further east. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Perspective from Interstate 395 south
Almost immediately after the U.S. 50/New York Avenue intersection, southbound Interstate 395 prepares to enter a tunnel. Much of the north-south route is underground until passing south of the National Mall near downtown. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Southbound Interstate 395 passes through several tunnels, the longest of which keeps the freeway below the National Mall and U.S. Capitol Building. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Perspective from U.S. 50/New York Avenue east
Eastbound U.S. 50/New York Avenue (signed with a unique District of Columbia shield that contains the state name) approaches the junction with Interstate 395 and 4th Street N.W. This is a five-way signalized intersection, so delays are commmon. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Eastbound U.S. 50/New York Avenue reaches the intersection with southbound Interstate 395 and 4th Street N.W. Continue straight ahead to follow U.S. 50 east to Annapolis. Turn south onto Interstate 395 to pass under the National Mall and emerge at the Interstate 695/Southeast Freeway interchange near L'Enfant Square. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/12/05).
Perspective from U.S. 50/New York Avenue west
New York Avenue westbound approaching the southbound beginning of Interstate 395. A small guide sign to the left advises motorists to move into the left lane for the beginning of the freeway. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
As with most tunnels, a hazardous materials restriction is in place prohibiting any vehicle carrying hazmat cargo from entering. Interstate 395 enters a tunnel within its first 2000 feet. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
A night time view of the tunnel advisory sign on U.S. 50 west. U.S. 50 continues westward on New York Avenue to 6th Street where U.S. 1 overlaps. The two highways utilize 9th Street in the southbound/westbound direction to the National Mall. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (12/28/01).
U.S. 50/Downtown sign bridge on New York Avenue westbound. A VMS is in place to advise motorists of conditions for Interstate 395 southbound. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Another night time perspective of New York Avenue in the vicinity of the northern terminus of Interstate 395. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (12/28/01).
Interstate 395 begins to the left as U.S. 50 continues westward to U.S. 1 and downtown Washington. Traffic turning left can also opt take 4th Street southbound. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).
Heavy traffic inches its way to Interstate 395 in the third of a series of night time photographs of U.S. 50 westbound. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (12/28/01).
The first southbound Interstate 395 reassurance shield is posted to the right. A VMS is in place as Interstate 395 descends in the first of several tunnels. Interstate 395 reaches the unsigned western terminus of Interstate 695 in less than two miles. Photo taken by Andy Field (06/02/03).

Sources:

  1. Scheulen, Jeff, "AARoads feedback: HOV on I-395 / I-95 in Northern Virginia," Personal Email, February 15, 2007 and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Travel Center: High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Systems (accessed August 25, 2007)

Page Updated August 25, 2007.

 
Mileage

State Virginia
Mileage 9.91
Cities Alexandria, Arlington
Junctions Interstate 95/Interstate 495,
Interstate 695
State District of Columbia
Mileage 3.48
Cities Washington
Junctions None
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-395 Virginia Annual Average Daily Traffic

Jurisdiction From To AADT Composite
Fairfax Exit 1/ Interstates 95/495 Exit 2/ SSR 648/ Edsall Road 187,000*
Fairfax Exit 2/ SSR 648/ Edsall Road Turkeycock Reversable Lanes 179,000+
Fairfax/
City of Alexandria
Turkeycock Reversable Lanes Exit 3/ Virginia 236/Duke St. 181,000+
City of Alexandria Exit 3/ Virginia 236/Duke St. Exit 4/ Seminary Road 177,000#
City of Alexandria Exit 4/ Seminary Road Exit 5/ Virginia 7/ King Street 179,000+
City of Alexandria/
Arlington
Exit 5/ Virginia 7/ King Street Exit 6/ Quaker Lane 163,000+
Arlington/
City of Alexandria
Exit 6/ Quaker Lane Exit 7/ Virginia 120/ Glebe Road 163,000+
Arlington Exit 7/ Virginia 120/ Glebe Road Exit 8/ Virginia 27/ Washington Blvd 185,000+
Arlington Exit 8/ Virginia 27/ Washington Blvd Exit 9/ U.S. 1/ Jefferson Davis Hwy. 154,000**
Arlington Exit 9/ U.S. 1/ Jefferson Davis Hwy. Exit 10/ George Washington Parkway 205,000**
Arlington Exit 10/ George Washington Parkway D.C. line 209,000**
Source: Virginia Department of Transportation 2002 AADT
* - 35,000 vpd on I-395 Reversable roadway , # - 29,000 vpd on I-395 Reversable roadway,
+ - 26,000 vpd on I-395 Reversable roadway, ** - 27,000 vpd I-395 Express Lanes north and 29,000 vpd I-395 Express Lanes south

I-395 D.C. Annual Average Daily Traffic

From To AADT Composite
VA state line U.S. 1/14th Street 188,100
U.S. 1/14th Street Interstate 695 193,800
Interstate 695 D Street N.W. 117,700
D Street N.W. U.S. 50/New York Avenue 44,600
Source: 2000 Traffic Volumes (District Division of Transportation - Traffic Services Division, Washington, D.C.)

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