While the recent attention from VDOT has focused on I-66 Transformation outside of the I-495 Beltway, VDOT has big plans for I-66 inside the beltway too. But the contrast in VDOT’s approach is stunning, and revealing. Outside of the Beltway, the new I-66 plan is to change the existing rush hour HOV-2 arrangement to HOT-3 with E-ZPass. That’s right, the existing freeway will be tolled at rush hour, or will be free with 3 people in your car and the proper E-ZPass switch. (The Dulles Airport HOV exception would still apply…somehow).
Inside the Beltway, VDOT will collect the new tolls itself, meaning the Commonwealth will not hand over the road to a private concessionaire with a 50+ years lease. They also will not expand the road, they will not destroy neighborhoods to build flyover ramps, storm water “management” swamps, and increased lanes. That’s the considerate plan for I-66, inside the Beltway.
Where will that toll money flowing into VDOT go? Well nobody knows for sure, except they say that it could be used for I-66 expansion inside the beltway in 2040 (sure) or for vague transit improvements.
When asked by Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) about any I-66 widening inside the Beltway on March 12, 2015, the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, Aubrey Layne had a most interesting response:
Sec. Layne answered that because of the staggering costs of such an undertaking (of widening I-66 inside the Beltway), and the challenges and disruptions that would be part of the process, it was necessary to implement the multimodal solutions first and determine what is working and what needs further adjustment before taking that possible next giant step.
That sounds like a reasonable position to take. But a reasonable position apparently is only suitable for those folks inside the Beltway.
Just across the new junction with I-495, Secretary Layne’s Department of Transportation is planning to do the complete opposite for I-66 outside the beltway. There, the “Transform 66” will not be concerned with any “challenges and disruptions,” nor will it be necessary to implement any “multimodal solutions” first. Determine what is working and making adjustments before taking that possible next giant step? Not for a moment…outside of the Beltway.
The cost of widening 9 miles of I-66 (inside the beltway) is “staggering,” but no expense is apparently too great for 25 miles of I-66 and the community carnage that it will entail.
Why the inconsistent approach, Secretary Layne? We applaud your concern for avoiding disruption and challenges for our friends in Arlington and Eastern Fairfax County. Mr. Secretary, why can’t you show the same understanding or compassion for the rest of Fairfax County, the folks who live in transit-oriented housing, and your constituents who will watch their homes, neighborhoods, schools, and open space destroyed forever, outside the Beltway? All of this destructive transformation is included in your plan to give away I-66 to a private concessionaire interested in having congestion to profit from for many decades in the future.
Ready to get involved? You can read more about Secretary Layne’s inconsistent approach in the Fairfax Connection.
Dear Dr. Gridlock,
Regarding your March 29 article, Nearly 50 years commuting, I-66’s lane squeeze still makes him snarl, VDOT’s own studies show that I-66 would have to widen to nine lanes in each direction to solve the congestion problem inside and outside of the beltway on I-66. All studies show that mass transit is the only option. Arlington, Ballston, Tysons, Mosaic and Halstead are ultra urban areas developed for mass transit and pedestrians, not cars. A rapid bus system is long over due (east and west and north and south to connect the orange line commuters to Tysons and the new silver line). Congratulate Mr. Layne for doing this inside the beltway and ask him why this isn’t being done outside the beltway. I-66 outside the beltway has never been HOV2 at a minimum during rush hour which could reduce rush hour congestion by half and allow a rapid bus system to move as well. So what is truly puzzling is why VDOT proposes to spend $3B on two lanes and pave neighborhoods when they haven’t gone to HOV2 or developed the rapid bus system needed in the corridor first. What is also puzzling is the transurban-owned HOT-lane-scheme and why VA would sell/give two of its current eight lanes on I-66 outside (along with paving neighborhoods to build more lanes) and build towering flyover ramps to connect transurban’s current investment on I-495 and completely ruin our environment and neighborhoods before implementing HOV2 and a rapid bus system. Perhaps that’s not so puzzling — it’s all about the money. The investor is more important than the neighborhood, taxpayer, homeowner, or commuter. Mr Lewy would snarl if his home were taken or neighborhood paved before in Mr. Layne’s words “an effort to find innovative solutions to congestion that don’t involve pouring more asphalt.”
Julie Hirka, Vienna
Was this intended for Washington Post’s Dr Gridlock? We are not affiliated with the Washington Post (although we may cite their articles from time to time)…