UPDATE (9:45 p.m. 3/4/18) - VDOT plans to have I-95 open as normal by the morning commute. VDOT will be providing public messaging on road conditions as closures are rescinded. VDOT reports they will make every effort to re-open Telegraph Road by morning.
UPDATE (8:15 p.m. 3/4/18) - Potomac Mills was able to pull down the sign. Waiting for final "all-clear" from VDOT, but officials are hopeful that I-95 and all nearby roadways will be open as normal for the Monday commute.
UPDATE (6:05 p.m. 3/4/18) - VDOT elected to open Express Lanes with toll from 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to accommodate bulk of northbound rush hour traffic. Southbound I-95 will be closed from exit 158 to exit 156 during these times if the sign has not been removed. Please follow all roadway detour signs as appropriate.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA... Due to the high winds that wreaked havoc on the region this past Friday, the Potomac Mills Mall sign along I-95 was damaged. Structural engineers inspected the property, and noted that the sign poses a significant threat to the surrounding area. One potential scenario presented is that the sign could fall onto I-95 southbound. That scenario forced VDOT to close the southbound lanes and to redirect traffic to the high occupancy express lanes without tolls over the weekend.
Because the sign is on private property and owned by a private entity, local and state authorities cannot take direct action to stabilize or remove the sign. Potomac Mills Mall property owners noted that they will not attempt to remove the sign until winds die down enough to allow safe removal. They are hopeful that they will be able to remove the sign before the Monday commute, but it is unclear whether that will be able to occur. Should Potomac Mills fail to remove the sign by Monday morning, commuters should expect significant traffic delays.
Although state and local emergency management has recommended maintaining southbound traffic along the express lanes with no tolls in order to keep traffic moving both directions along I-95, VDOT has yet to decide how they will respond to the situation. VDOT hopes to open the express lanes as normal during the morning commute with tolls, though that would force complete shutdown of I-95 southbound from Exit 158 to Exit 156. This option would put significant stress on alternative roads in the area, particularly US Route 1 in Prince William County.
Commuters and Prince William residents should prepare for potentially significant traffic delays for Monday, both in the morning and evening rush hours, in the event the sign cannot come down. However, without a decision from VDOT, it is unclear what specific impacts those may be. Residents are encouraged to telework and to use VRE services where possible. All other commuters should anticipate significant delays and follow all traffic signals and potential detour signs.