I-66 Express Lanes Hit Speed Bump Over Design Changes (WTOP)

From WTOP radio:

WASHINGTON — A portion of the Interstate 66 express lanes project has been temporarily delayed because of strong opposition from neighbors worried about noise, pollution and the design.

The region’s Transportation Planning Board took the unusual step on Wednesday to put off an air quality analysis for a stretch of the project between U.S. 50 and the Capital Beltway. Meanwhile, the board agreed to advance the analysis for the remainder of the project, which will run to Gainesville.

 The delay gives the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors a chance to consider design revisions included in plans released last month and to make changes to proposed interchanges plus on- and off-ramps. The features would be included in an air quality analysis — a technical review required before any ramps or lanes could be built.

“If we come back and say any of those (access) points need to be stricken, they will be,” Supervisor Linda Smyth said.

The board is expected to receive more information about the latest design plans next month.

Neighborhood opposition

A small, active group of Dunn Loring residents who live in the shadow of the proposed on-ramps and off-ramps urged the Transportation Planning Board to agree to the delay.

 Neighbors said the Virginia Department of Transportation has not factored in enough of their input and has gone back on previous promises that the ramps would not be larger than they appeared in plans made available to the public last year.

“It is painfully obvious that these changes are to ensure profitability to Express Mobility (Partners) at the expense of the residents and a community that has been in existence for over 130 years,” Mary Hagopian of Dunn Loring said.

The private company’s designs for the road were quietly released last month.

 Delegate Mark Keam, who represents the area, said he only learned of the proposed changes put into the revised plans through concerned neighbors. He said VDOT should have provided more information to neighbors and elected leaders.

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