RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to combat the city’s worsening traffic conditions during rush hour commutes, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has unveiled plans to convert the Downtown Expressway into a fully enclosed traffic loop.
According to VDOT, the intention is to prevent vast amounts of traffic from pouring into overcrowded downtown streets by removing all exit ramps from the expressway, thus only allowing traffic to enter. The project, nicknamed “The Fender Blender,” will use part of the existing Powhite Parkway and will add on a whole new section of roadway to create a closed circuit of traffic flow that will be unable to ever leave the expressway.
VDOT spokesperson Janet Millerson made the announcement during an exclusive Peedmont interview and elaborated on the details of the project.
“The enclosed loop will alleviate traffic congestion throughout the city,” explained Millerson. “By preventing these drivers from exiting the expressway, they cannot reach our downtown streets to clog them up. Additionally, since they can never exit, it will reduce the overall number of drivers on the road in the long run.”
Millerson assured us, “In forcing a large portion of drivers to move in a continuous, never-ending circular pattern, we expect everyone else’s rush hour commute to be reduced by five minutes, easy.”
She also revealed some traffic statistics that led to the decision to revamp the expressway. According to historic data, both the city’s morning and evening rush hour congestion has been on the rise.
“The metropolitan area’s rush hour has been worsening every month,” Millerson disclosed. “January started with delays of approximately 38 seconds above last year’s average. By June, we were at an entire 1:21 above last year and counting. Our data shows that this is an imminent threat that we need to take on with everything we have available.”
The new route will take the expressway across the James River at the Powhite interchange, before completing the circle at the I-95 junction at the James Center district.
Expected to start later this month, completion of the loop is considered a high priority and is likely to delay the ongoing GRTC Pulse on Broad Street for another two years.