Eighteen members of the Virginia General Assembly have written Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne a letter to request significant changes to the planned I-66 shared use trail. The primary concern is where this bicycling and walking trail would go in the eastern section, and to extend the trail beyond Route 28 in the western section. Current VDOT plans call for trail to be constructed inside the right of way and sound walls in the Beltway to Blake Lane section.
Some bicyclist groups are demanding the trail to be moved to outside the sound wall, putting their groups at odds with homeowners already having their limited yards taken away by VDOT’s I-66 widening. According to VDOT, moving the trail would increase the land taking from private yards, and place the trail on modest backyards already severed by the project.
Homeowners in this transit-oriented area between metro stations are already facing significant takings of modest backyards to make room for a greatly expanded freeway footprint and toll facilities.
Of the eighteen members of the general assembly who signed the letter to Secretary Layne, several of them represent areas such as Roanoke and Virginia Beach. Only three represent districts along I-66 outside the beltway, and none of the signers represent the areas between the Beltway and Vienna.
Besides the trail placement, the letter also advocates for extending the mixed trail beyond its planned terminus at Route 28. Placing the trail along the complete Transform I-66 project, including west of Route 28 is a worthy goal.
The Washington Post wrote a story with more details on this letter and issue.
The current plan puts about five of the 22.5 miles of proposed trail on the highway side of the wall. They are on the Fairfax side of the project, which covers about 16.5 miles of trail parallel to I-66. In Prince William, state officials say, another six miles of trail is expected to be coordinated by the county.
Susan Shaw, director of Mega Projects for VDOT, said the department is working with the project’s private partners to find other locations within those five miles of trail where the facility could be moved to the other side of the wall. A modified design would be released for public review this fall, she said.