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The Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway, often shortened to Shirley Highway, consists of a 17.3-mile (27.8 km) portion of Interstates 95 and 395 in the U.S. Commonwealth of Virginia. Shirley Highway was the first limited-access freeway in Virginia. Begun in 1941, the road was completed from U.S. Route 1 in Colchester, Virginia, just north of Woodbridge, to the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River between Virginia and Washington, D.C. in 1952.

I-95.svg I-395.svg

Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway
Shirley Highway
Shirley Highway highlighted in red
Route information
Length17.3 mi (27.8 km)
HistoryConstructed and opened from 1941 to 1952
Major junctions
South end I-95 / US 1 in Colchester
North end I-395 / US 1 in Arlington at 14th Street Bridges
Highway system
SR 349Virginia 350.svgSR 351
1945 map of the Pentagon road network, including part of the Shirley Highway


The Shirley Highway is named in honor of Henry G. Shirley, the head of the Virginia Department of Highways (now Virginia Department of Transportation) from 1922 to 1941, who died in July, 1941, just a few weeks after giving the "go-ahead" for work on the new highway. The road was originally a four-lane highway, and it was designated State Route 350 from its southern intersection with U.S. Route 1 north of the Occoquan River near Woodbridge, Virginia, and its northern intersection with U.S. Route 1 near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Construction began in October 1941. The first section in Arlington, from the Pentagon south to State Route 7, mostly 2 lanes, was opened in October 1943. This section was completed with four lanes in October 1944. Due to wartime constraints, the new highway had an unusual at-grade railroad crossing instead of a bridge over the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad just north of Shirlington Circle. This location was the site of a fatal collision between a train and a dump truck on June 26, 1952.[1] The remaining portions of the Shirley Highway south to U.S. Route 1 in Colchester, just north of Woodbridge, were completed in 1952. It facilitated the rapid development of Arlington County in the Shirlington, Parkfairfax, and Fairlington neighborhoods during World War II, and during that period connected the city to suburban shopping opportunities at Shirlington Shopping Center, at that time a five-minute trip away.

The original "Mixing Bowl": largest in the worldEdit

The new Shirley Highway included the "Mixing Bowl" interchange complex near the newly completed Pentagon (War Department Building), which was completed in 1944. At this location, the State Route 27 freeway (Washington Blvd.) merges with the Shirley Highway and then branches off again. The original interchange had a merge section each way, about 1/3 mile long, with a third "mixing lane" where the vehicles would weave when they wanted to change to the other freeway. It was rebuilt in the 1960s. After rebuilding, it was the largest interchange complex in the world. There are currently 52 lane-miles of roadways and ramps, with four freeway junctions and numerous local ramps, and with several interchanges to the reversible express (HOV) roadway, all within a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) section of the Shirley Highway.

I-95, I-395Edit

From 1965 to 1975, the Shirley Highway was reconstructed to Interstate Highway System standards. As portions were completed, they were designated as Interstate 95. Original plans called for I-95 to cut straight through Washington, D.C., and connect with the Capital Beltway (I-495) in Maryland. However, community opposition halted this plan in 1977, diverting planned funding to construction of the Washington Metro subway system.

Because of the cancellation of the originally-proposed section of I-95 from New York Avenue in the District of Columbia, northward into Prince George's County to Interstate 495, the Capital Beltway, the I-95 designation was rerouted onto the eastern half of the Beltway. The remaining portion of the Shirley Highway north of Springfield was redesignated Interstate 395, and continues into D.C. to its end at U.S. Route 50 (New York Avenue).

Shirley BuswayEdit

On September 22, 1969, the reversible roadway between Edsall Road and SR 7 was converted to the first separated bus rapid transit (BRT) route on an Interstate highway during peak morning commute hours (0630–0930); this was extended north to Shirlington the next day.[2]:9 The busway was extended to north of Glebe Road in September 1970, and then to the new Center Span Bridge on April 5, 1971. The Shirley Highway Express Bus-on-Freeway Project was implemented from June 1971 to the end of 1974, demonstrating that BRT on a highway was a feasible way to boost public transit ridership and on-time performance.[3] However, compared to the Lindenwold High Speed Line, a light rail service of comparable distance serving approximately the same number of people, Prof. Vukan R. Vuchic found the Shirley Busway had fewer riders and revenue.[4]

Springfield InterchangeEdit

The roots of the Springfield Interchange began with the Shirley Highway. This jumble of highways in Springfield, Virginia, where I-395, I-95, and the Capital Beltway meet, is officially called the "Springfield Interchange." It is colloquially referred to as the "Mixing Bowl," but highway officials still use that terminology to refer to the interchange complex at the Pentagon (see Pentagon road network).

Exit listEdit

VirginiaFairfaxLorton161.17259.38  I-95 south – RichmondSouthern terminus of Shirley Highway
161  US 1 south – Woodbridge
  US 1 south – WoodbridgeSouthern terminus of Shirley Highway; southbound exit and northbound entrance for I-95 Express lanes
163.66263.39163  SR 642 – Lorton
Newington165.56266.44  I-95 Express northNorthbound exit only
Alban Road / Boudinot DriveSouthbound entrance only for I-95 Express lanes
166.8268.4166  SR 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) / Backlick Road (SR 617) / Fullerton Road / Heller Road – Newington, Fort BelvoirSigned as exits 166A (south) and 166B (north); Heller Rd. not signed northbound; Backlick Rd./Fullerton Rd. not signed southbound
  I-95 Express southSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
167  SR 617 south (Backlick Road) / Fullerton RoadSouthbound exit only
Springfield169.05272.06169A-B  SR 644 – Franconia, SpringfieldNo southbound exit; southbound access from I-395 exit 1B
  SR 289 (Franconia-Springfield Parkway)I-95 Express lane interchange
  I-95 Express northNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
  SR 644 west – SpringfieldSouthbound exit and northbound entrance for I-95 Express lanes
Springfield Interchange   I-95 north / I-495 east / Capital Beltway – BaltimoreNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; southern terminus of I-395
170B  I-495 north / Capital Beltway – Tysons CornerNorthbound exit and southbound entrance; continuation onto I-395 northbound signed as exit 170A
   I-95 north / I-495 / Capital Beltway – Baltimore, Tysons CornerExpress lane interchange; part of Springfield Interchange; transition from I-95 Express lanes to I-395 Express lanes
1B  SR 644 – Franconia, SpringfieldSouthbound exit; continuation onto I-95 southbound signed as exit 1A
1C   I-95 north / I-495 east / Capital Beltway – BaltimoreSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
1D  I-495 north / Capital Beltway – Tysons CornerSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
0.400.642A  SR 648 east (Edsall Road)
2B  SR 648 west (Edsall Road)
1.101.77  I-395 Express southSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
  I-395 Express south / I-395 north (HOV Lanes)Current northern terminus of I-395 Express lanes and southern terminus of HOV lanes
  I-395 north (HOV Lanes)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
City of Alexandria2.003.223A  SR 236 east (Duke Street) – Landmark
3B  SR 236 west (Little River Turnpike) – Lincolnia
3.705.954Seminary Road (SR 420)Includes full access to and from HOV lanes
4.607.405  SR 7 (King Street)
ArlingtonShirlington5.408.696ShirlingtonSouthbound access is part of exit 7; includes exit ramp to Quaker Lane
ShirlingtonSouthbound exit and northbound entrance via HOV lanes only
5.909.507  SR 120 (South Glebe Road) – Marymount University, ShirlingtonSigned as exits 7A (south) and 7B (north/Marymount) northbound; southbound exit includes exit ramp to Quaker Lane
Arlington Ridge6.9011.108A   SR 27 west (Washington Boulevard) to SR 244 (Columbia Pike) / South Arlington Ridge Road – Pentagon South ParkingSR 244 (Columbia Pike) signed northbound only; Pentagon South Parking/South Arlington Ridge Road signed southbound only
Pentagon City  SR 27 east / Arlington Memorial BridgeNorthbound exit and southbound entrance via HOV lanes only
7.5012.078B  SR 27 east (Washington Boulevard) – Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, RosslynNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
  I-395 (HOV Lanes)Southbound entrance only from HOV lanes
PentagonAccess via HOV lanes only
8.0012.878B   SR 110 north to I-66 west – RosslynSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
Crystal City8.4013.528C   US 1 south – Pentagon City, Crystal City, Reagan National Airport, AlexandriaSouthern terminus of concurrency with US 1; left exit southbound; northbound signed as "To US 1"
8.5013.68  I-395 north (HOV 3+)Northbound exit and southbound entrance; future northern terminus of I-395 Express Lanes; HOV lanes to continue north as before
8.7014.009Clark StreetNorthbound exit is part of exit 10A
Long Bridge Park8.90–
10Boundary Channel Drive – Pentagon North ParkingSigned as exit 10A
  George Washington Parkway – Memorial Bridge, Reagan National Airport, Mount VernonSigned as exits 10B (south) and 10C (north)
Potomac River14th Street Bridges
VADC line
Northern terminus of Shirley Highway
District of ColumbiaWashington   I‑395 north / US 1 north – Washington
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ Photographs and transcript of Washington Evening Star article dated June 27, 1952, concerning crash between train and dump truck at the at-grade crossing of the Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway and the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad in Washington & Old Dominion Railroad 1847 to 1968: A Photographic History website, by Paul McCray Accessed August 8, 2010.
  2. ^ Taylor, Jean G. (April 1970). Reserved Lanes for Buses: The Shirley Highway Experiment (PDF) (Report). Urban Mass Transportation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  3. ^ McQueen, James T.; Levinsohn, David M.; Waksman, Robert; Miller, Gerald K. (August 1975). The Evaluation of the Shirley Highway Express-Bus-on-Freeway Demonstration project (PDF) (Report). Urban Mass Transportation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  4. ^ Vuchic, Vukan R.; Stanger, Richard M. (January 1973). Lindenwold Rail Line and Shirley Busway: A Comparison. 52nd Annual Meeting. Washington, D.C.: Highway Research Board. ISBN 0309021928. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  5. ^ Staff (2014). "2014 Traffic Data". Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2015-08-31.

External linksEdit