Governor McAuliffe launches plan to fix I-66

roads-newGovernor Terry McAuliffe today announced a plan to transform traffic-choked Interstate 66 into a multi-modal facility with express lanes, rapid bus service and a park-and-ride network from the Capital Beltway to Haymarket.

“Interstate 66 is broken. Commuters are stuck in traffic, limited in the travel choices they can make and unable to predict how long their trip will take on any given day,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Giving Virginians more choices and a better, safer travel experience on I-66 is one of my top priorities, and today I am proud to announce the beginning of that effort.”

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne continued, “Over the last couple of months the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has worked closely with the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) and Fairfax and Prince William counties to devise a plan that will reduce congestion on I-66 by increasing capacity and giving travelers more choices. Today we kick off 17 months of rigorous environmental study and robust community involvement. By the end of 2016 our plan is to complete environmental work, identify funding sources, receive federal approval, and move forward on a plan to turn I-66 into the efficient, multi-modal corridor that Virginia’s economy needs.”

Under the proposed plan I-66 would be improved to provide:

  • Three regular lanes in each direction;
  • Two express lanes in each direction (the existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane would be converted to an express lane and one new express lane would be constructed);
  • High-frequency bus service with predictable travel times; and,
  • Direct access between the express lanes and new or expanded commuter lots.

As on the 495 Express Lanes and soon-to-open 95 Express Lanes, tolls would be congestion-based and motorists would have the choice of driving free in the regular lanes or paying a toll to use the express lanes. Carpools of three or more persons and buses would ride free. The current HOV-2 requirement would be raised to HOV-3 to be consistent with the region’s Constrained Long Range Plan which calls for HOV-3 by 2020. HOV-3 on I-66 would also match the occupancy requirement on 495 and 95.

The full scope of improvements, which will be refined over the coming months, is estimated to cost between $2 and $3 billion.

The Tier 2 Environmental Assessment will evaluate site-specific conditions and potential effects the proposed improvements would have on air quality, noise, neighborhoods, parks, recreation areas, historic properties, wetlands and streams. The proposed improvements will not preclude the addition of Metro, light rail or bus rapid transit within the right of way on I-66 in the future.

In November 2013, the Federal Highway Administration approved the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement with a Record of Decision. Also last year, 19 private-sector firms offered recommendations for solutions to improve Interstate 66 in response to a Request for Information (RFI) issued by OTP3. The RFI sought innovative and creative solutions to ease the congested I-66 corridor from the Capital Beltway to Route 15 in Haymarket, with an emphasis on providing a multi-modal solution and minimizing right of way impacts.

More information on the I-66 Corridor Improvement Project is available here.

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