Custis Memorial Parkway: Few I-66 Toll Cheaters Caught in First 4 Months of Restrictions

Just 0.007 percent of Custis Memorial Parkway (I-66 Inside the Beltway) vehicles during the toll periods have been caught cheating.  That’s a very low ratio.  Solo drivers with no passengers are supposed to pay a toll, but if there are additional people in the vehicle, the occupants can turn a switch on their special toll transponder entitling them to a free trip.  Does this tiny cheat number mean that solo drivers braving this road are paying the toll or does it mean enforcement is lax?

VDOT has justified HOT (High Occupancy/Toll) schemes in part because they claim  police can’t adequately ticket many HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) violators in HOV lanes; therefore HOV  restrictions are not effective.  But is enforcement any stronger when HOV changes to VDOT’s preferred (and profitable) HOT usage instead?

From WTOP:

“Since the tolls and expanded High Occupancy Vehicle restrictions on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway began in December, 171 drivers have been caught cheating the tolls, data provided to WTOP show.

That means that on about 0.007 percent of all trips in the lanes between Dec. 4 and March 30, the Virginia State Police said, drivers were using an E-ZPass Flex switched to HOV mode to get a free ride, even though the drivers did not actually have a second person in the car as required. The number does not include the number of drivers that troopers let off with a warning.

Before the start of tolls, Virginia transportation officials estimated that half or more of drivers using I-66 inside the Beltway during the 2.5 hours each way when it was HOV only were cheating.

Full Article:

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Are FAM Construction, CINTRA, or VDOT Contractors Requesting to Access Your Property?

Transform 66 Wisely has learned that a VDOT Contractor, FAM Construction, has been asking for access to private property near I-66.  Their claimed reason has been to “verify” utilities or drill for soil boring samples.  If this happens to you, beware of any attempts to enter your private property and find an attorney experienced with Virginia eminent domain issues to know your legal rights.

Boring equipment includes large vehicles that carry deep drilling equipment.  This equipment can be quite heavy and may damage your property during use or even transporting to the drill area.  In addition, the drill lubricating oils used in drilling often leak and contaminate soil permanently.

As a property owner, you do NOT have to allow any company to access your property to modify it, drill on it, or provide access for any equipment without a legal order.  While FAM and VDOT can secure eminent domain authority that includes a legal order, it is up to them to do this first.  Do not voluntarily give them any permission until they have secured actual legal authority to enter your property.

The property owner is entitled to compensation and may secure and negotiate a (temporary) easement or a limited license for land access.  This negotiation may include financial compensation, but also assurance that the land will be returned to its original condition, and clarify what responsibilities exist for spills and environmental concern.  Even a spilled fuel can may be an environmental headache for a landowner long after the construction company leaves the area.

Later, if land is taken permanently, a separate eminent domain process and negotiation will take place.

Please consult an attorney for information about your rights and to receive legal advice. You can request reimbursement of legal fees as part of your compensation.

Has FAM attempted to access your property?  Send us a note at

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Why VDOT is Tolling I-66 Inside the Beltway

The Inside the Beltway tolls are designed to generate revenue for the Outside the Beltway private partner, according to Virginia government officials.

Since 2015, VDOT has been telling the public that I-66 inside the beltway would be tolled as a completely separate idea and project from outside the beltway.  And politicians from the Governor of Virginia to general assembly members have been telling taxpayers they have “No Risk” for outside the beltway because the private partner is on the hook for all expenses.  Not surprisingly, it turns out none of this is true.  According to the office of the Secretary of Transportation, VDOT is tolling the INSIDE the beltway to ensure projected revenue for OUTSIDE the beltway’s partner, and taxpayers have been made liable to pay if Inside the beltway is not tolled.

The big difference between the two I-66 projects that inside the beltway would have tolls across the entire Interstate at peak hours and no new “express lanes” would be added.  In 2016, the Virginia legislature would prevent VDOT from tolling reverse commutes and required VDOT to add an eastbound lane from Route 267 to Route 29.  The other difference was VDOT would have a private partner to manage only the new lanes outside the beltway.

So why did VDOT want to toll inside the beltway too?  They announced that they would give some money to transit and other project they (or NVTC or Commonwealth Transportation Board) found worthy.  But the real reason was this:

VDOT’s contractors found that the expected I-66 OUTSIDE the beltway toll revenue will increase significantly if I-66 inside the beltway was converted to tolls.  The private partner outside the beltway would need to count on new tolls INSIDE the beltway too so they can make more money from Virginians.  After the legislature made the changes above, VDOT gave a huge concession from the taxpayers to the private partner:

The Private Partner I-66 Comprehensive Agreement was amended  just prior to signing: A new compensation event was created that requires Virginia taxpayers to pay CINTRA / I-66 Express Mobility Partners LLC if INSIDE the beltway tolling is not implemented as planned.  The public private partnership is carefully designed so whenever a compensation event occurs, the public taxpayers must pay the private partner, and pay it handsomely.

See the Comprehensive Agreement, Appendix A, compensation event definition (t) on pages A10-A11 [PDF page 184].

 (t) Any change in Law during the Term that, with respect to Interstate 66 between Interstate 495 in Fairfax County and U.S. Route 29 in the Rosslyn area of Arlington County, (i) prior to the imposition of tolling thereon, prohibits tolling of any vehicles with less than two occupants (other than motorcycles) between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  on weekdays or (ii)at any time after the imposition of tolling thereon, permits non-HOV-3 vehicles to travel at reduced tolls or without tolls between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.


Suddenly worried that public outcry over INSIDE tolls could pressure the in-session legislature to limit toll with a new law, the Secretary of Transportation’s office just published a warning presentation aimed at ensuring INSIDE tolls never end.


  • Traffic and revenue for I-66 outside the Beltway showed significant increase if I-66 inside the Beltway was converted to express lanes
  • Benefits could only be realized in P3 procurement if private sector could count on conversion being implemented
  • After 2016 compromise with General Assembly 66 contract, prior to execution of contract, was amended to include compensation event if tolls were not implemented as planned. [Secretary of Transportation Presentation]

So if the state or even the legislature decides to end tolling INSIDE the beltway, the state taxpayers are immediately required to pay the OUTSIDE the beltway partner.  Wonder who negotiated this poor financial deal on behalf of taxpayer’s wallets?  Governor Northam just named Transportation Secretary Layne has been named as the new Virginia Secretary of Finance.

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Where Should I-66 Outside the Beltway Toll Money Go? CTB Wants Your Input.

Where would you like to see the I-66 Outside-the-Beltway toll money go that is leftover after the private toll company pays construction bond interest and takes their cut?  The Commonwealth Transportation Board already has some ideas.  Incredibly, one of them is to spend nearly $5 Million in Arlington County to expand a bus stop.  Since Arlington County is well Inside the Beltway (and eligible for the separate Inside the Beltway toll cash, it is incredible that the CTB would consider it, if you weren’t following the project’s course to date.

The CTB says that they want your input to help them decide and will be holding a public hearing.  The hearing is on Thursday, January 4, 2018, 6:30 pm at the Northern Virginia VDOT headquarters: 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA.  Emailed input will be taken through Monday January 8.  Email comments may sent to

From WTOP:

“With construction on new toll lanes ramping up this year on Interstate 66 between Gainesville and the Beltway, Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board is due to approve a number of projects next week that will be paid for by the toll lane operators.

After a public hearing Thursday, the board is due to vote Jan. 10 on how to spend $496 million of a $579 million payment that Express Mobility Partners gave the state as part of the construction agreement.

An additional $79 million is due to go toward oversight of the project, including public outreach, and there is some separate ongoing funding planned to support some transit options….

…The recommended projects (with the planned amount of funding from this payment) are:

  • Route 234/Balls Ford Road interchange and relocation in Prince William County ($145 million)
  • Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line upgrade — Phase I including railcars, station expansions at Broad Run, Manassas and Manassas Park, and an additional track near Manassas ($128.5 million)
  • Balls Ford Road widening from Groveton Road to Route 234 Business (Sudley Road) in Prince William ($67.4 million)
  • I-66 median widening from Lee Highway (Route 29) to Route 28 for future Orange Line extension to Centreville or other transit in Fairfax County ($40 million)
  • Commuter parking garage structure at Government Center/Fairfax Corner ($38.5 million)
  • George Snyder Trail in Fairfax City from Chain Bridge Road/Route 123 to Fairfax Boulevard/Route 50 ($13.6 million)
  • Widen planned Jermantown Road bridge to four lanes over I-66 in Fairfax County ($11 million)
  • Western bus maintenance facility in Prince William County ($11.1 million)
  • East Falls Church Metrobus bay expansion in Arlington ($4.8 million)
  • Monument Drive bridge pedestrian improvements in Fairfax County ($3.8 million)
  • Route 50/Waples Mill Road intersection improvements in Fairfax County ($2 million)
  • Construct Poplar Tree Road bridge to four lanes over Route 28 in Fairfax ($6 million)
  • Lee Highway pedestrian improvements in Fairfax County (complete missing sidewalk from Nutley Street to Vaden Drive) ($1.3 million)
  • Nutley Street SW multiuse trail to Metro in Vienna from Marshall Road SW to Tapawingo Road SW ($300,000)
  • Route 29 improvements from Shirley Gate Road to Pickwick Road ($23.3 million)

The Route 29 improvements were not initially recommended by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for funding under this payment, but a new design for the Route 234/Balls Ford Road interchange in Prince William County freed up additional money.

Virginia transportation leaders suggested to replace Fairfax County funding on the Route 29 widening, given the county’s initial investment in a new ramp to the Vienna Metro from Interstate 66 that ended up being pulled into the toll lane construction contract.

The public hearing Thursday begins at 6:30 p.m. at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District Office at 4975 Alliance Drive in Fairfax.

Comments on the projects can also be submitted through Monday Jan. 8 by email to with the subject line “I-66 Concession Projects,” or by sending regular mail to Ms. Maria Sinner, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

You can read the full article from WTOP.

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Comment on I-66 Design by November 29

VDOT is accepting comments on the “final” I-66 freeway design through Wednesday, November 29, 2017. It is hard to say what the final design is for a design/build project until construction is well underway, but please send in your comments. VDOT states that they want to hear from you and they take comments seriously, so please prove them right (or wrong).

Are you interested in construction disruption due to overpass bridge demolition and rebuilding? Would you like sidewalks on nearby streets that are being moved by construction, for example Prosperity Avenue in Merrifield? Do you care about noise limits and monitoring during construction and the removal of sound walls for the loudest construction phase in local neighborhoods?

Would you like to ensure your Metrorail commute is not disrupted for months by station entrance demolition and power feed replacement?

Are you interested in ensuring local neighborhoods are protected from the project with new sound walls and carefully placed freeway lighting? Are you wondering why VDOT says it needs an elevated flyover structure to move eastbound traffic to the adjacent toll eastbound lanes near Dunn Loring, while VDOT says slip ramps are just fine for similar movements on I-95?

Please send in your comments to VDOT at the following email address:

You may also share ideas here by leaving a comment on this page, however this will not send your comments to VDOT.

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Cintra and I-66 Partners Secure $1.2B Federal Subsidized Loan

Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia) proudly announced this week that I-66 Express Mobility Partners has obtained a $1.2 Billion federal subsidized TIFIA* loan to widen I-66.

Although the I-66 widening project west of the capital beltway is publicized as using toll money and private financing, over a billion dollars of federal tax money will actually be used to pay the construction costs and the $500 Million upfront lump sum payment that CINTRA and its partners used to secure its winning bid with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

This money will now be need to be paid back to the federal government at subsidized below market interest rates, ensuring the taxpayers will be subsidizing both the construction and the lump sum payment, in addition to toll revenue from drivers.

VDOT now says that the I-66 Outside the Beltway project will cost $3.7 Billion dollars, a substantial increase from the “$2-$3 Billion” VDOT employees claimed it would cost last year. Some of the increase is due to additional investments, including moving a Metrorail traction power substation. VDOT contractually limited any orange line Metro extension to occur for years, unless Cintra and partners are well subsidized with more public taxpayer money, so additional investments on the I-66 corridor will be limited in scope.

If CINTRA’s Express Mobility Partners defaults on the loan, U.S. taxpayers will be on the hook for the debt.

Bankruptcy and defaulting on federal subsidized TIFIA loans is no stranger to CINTRA. In 2016, CINTRA’s majority owned subsidiary SH 130 Concession Co declared bankruptcy. This toll concession company built and operated a poorly constructed toll road near San Antonio, Texas before leaving federal taxpayers holding the bag. US Department of Transportation has refused to comment how much money taxpayers lost in the deal.

Although the projected cost continues to rise, VDOT still claims that construction for the 25 mile project will be completed in 5 years.

*TIFIA or the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act was originated by Congress in 2001 to allow public entities, and occasionally private companies (as with Cintra/EMP) to obtain federal financing for large projects.

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Va Transportation Secretary: Changing I-66 Trail Will Threaten Entire I-66 Transformation Widening Project

Bike and trail advocacy groups have recently been pushing VDOT to move the planned trail along the widened I-66 outside the noise barrier in the eastern 5 miles of the Outside the Beltway project.  VDOT states that moving the trail would greatly increase the project’s real estate footprint, increase land taking costs, and is inconsistent with the contract or Comprehensive Agreement that VDOT executed in December 2016 with I-66 Express Mobility Partners LLC.  Still, some potential bikers and pedestrians along the trail would prefer the trail be situated on the backyard side of the wall, not on the Interstate freeway side.

Even without a trail on either side of a noise barrier wall, residences along the project will get taken entirely or lose substantial portions of their land.  The homes in this area generally have very modest yards, and are facing having a wall only 10 yards away from their doors in some cases. In other words, they homes don’t have much land to begin with, and already are facing a significant haircut, if not complete loss. Even nearby green space is being converted to impervious paved surfaces complete with barriers, walls, and tall new overpasses. Moving the trail would aggravate the loss of already limited land.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne stated last week that making changes to the planned trail along the widening I-66 “will jeopardize the entire deal if we go back to the homeowners now and tell them we are going to take more of their property.”  Layne  also stated that it would be costly to Virginia and delay the project.

It might be heartening to see Mr. Layne’s sudden taxpayer/homeowner advocacy.  But in reality, he is advocating for his Comprehensive Agreement and to protect against anything that can derail or delay the sweetheart Public/Private Partnership deal for his chosen I-66 Express Mobility Partners, whose members consist of CINTRA and its parent company Ferrovial Agroman of Spain, France’s Meridiam, and Allan Myers.

The Washington Post has an article, “Changing trail design could jeopardize entire I-66 widening project,” that describes the recent trail interests.  Several folks affiliated with Transform 66 Wisely were contacted and/or quoted in the article.

It is interesting to note that Linda Smyth, Supervisor of Fairfax’s Providence District states in the article, “This has been a wrenching experience for the neighborhoods and the people who are closest to it.”   That is certainly true. 

 This isn’t the first time I-66 has been widened, Smyth noted. Area residents have seen pieces of their property nibbled away over the years.

“So this noise wall is getting closer to the houses,” she said. “People remember these things.”

It isn’t clear what section of I-66 Outside the Beltway that Smyth is referring to, but the I-66 freeway opened in 1964 with six lanes from the Capital Beltway to U.S. 50, seven miles west.  This is roughly the same configuration that exists today, except for how the pavement is used, so it is unclear where the nibbling took place in Providence District.  In 1993 the shoulder along this stretch was converted to an active lane controlled by a green arrow/red X system, and the left lane was marked for HOV use during peak hours.  This history is derived from Scott Kozel’s excellent and well researched Roads to the Future history for I-66.

Interestingly, the politicians who support the privatized tolls and I-66 widening are still buying VDOT’s official line that the entire 22 miles of widening construction will finish five years after shovels break ground.  Coincidentally, it took VDOT five years to widen just 2 miles of Stringfellow Road.





Posted in Community, In the News | 3 Comments

Virginia Legislators Push to Move I-66 Bike & Pedestrian Trail Outside Highway Wall

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.

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Inside the Beltway: VDOT to Spend $2M More for New I-66 Tolls with Flashing Lights

You may have noticed the flashing strobe lights overhead on I-66 and Route 267 inside the beltway. VDOT is at work and is testing the new toll gantries, including their bright flashing features. While other facilities use overhead tolling without flashing lights in drivers’ eyes at night, VDOT has chosen the bright strobe method. White strobe lights can trigger seizures for those with photosensitive epilepsy, and can be extremely distracting for all drivers. The strobe lights appear angled from the rear of a vehicle, however the flashes from the oncoming lanes is angled directly of driver’s line of vision and there is plenty of bright light in all directions.

The strobe lights’ purpose appears to be to illuminate license plates and allow law enforcement to count vehicle occupants at night while cars whiz by. Other agencies have figured out how to do this without visual strobe lights, but driver safety does not appear to be a priority on I-66.

Meanwhile, VDOT needs an extra $2 million dollars to collect tolls than their original budget for I-66 inside the beltway.

WASHINGTON — The Interstate 66 rush-hour toll system inside the Capital Beltway that is due to begin charging solo drivers in December will cost at least $2 million more up front than previously planned.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking the Commonwealth Transportation Board Wednesday to approve the additional $2 million in order to keep the project on schedule to open just before Gov. Terry McAuliffe leaves office, based on VDOT and contractor estimates for upcoming costs.

Full Story from WTOP:

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Arlington Seeks I-66 Outside the Beltway Funds for East Falls Church Improvements Inside the Beltway

In a few months, VDOT will turn the switch on its new tolls of I-66 Inside the Beltway.  Commuters at rush hour in the peak direction on all lanes of I-66 can pay a toll  without 2 people in the vehicle between the Beltway and the Potomac River.

These new tolls will collect a lot of cash, and VDOT has stated it will use some of it to improve transportation and transit for the corridor Inside the Beltway.  This means Arlington County will be a large beneficiary of the Inside the Beltway tolls.

But Arlington County want more, and wants to grab toll money from OUTSIDE the beltway too.  As part of its bid winning strategy, the winning consortium—CINTRA of Spain, Meridiam of France, and Ferrovial also of Spain—promised $500 Million advance in cash to VDOT.  This money was supposed to be used for transportation improvements outside the beltway.  It is essentially a prepayment of toll revenue that the consortium will collect over the next 50 years.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is charged with allocating the Outside the Beltway funding.  Seeing money dangling from the highway (and the homes, backyards, and neighborhoods that CINTRA et al’s widening will destroy), Arlington County wants some too.  Even though Arlington is wholly located inside the Beltway, they want to grab money from outside the beltway.

And what do they need Outside funding for?  $23 Million would build another local street entrance and curb street to their East Falls Church metro station.  The rest would be spent on building two bus bays.  One might wonder why two bus parking areas would cost $6 million dollars, but that is another subject.

Why send Outside the Beltway funds for some local County improvement projects Inside the Beltway?  VDOT has been very clear about having two separate and distinct projects for I-66: Inside and Outside.  Inside the Beltway, homes, neighborhoods, and transit oriented communities are largely preserved and kept sacred by VDOT.  Outside the Beltway, homes, neighborhoods, the last trees, and transit oriented communities are mere obstacles for the bulldozers to destroy and pour concrete on so CINTRA et al can ensure profitable congestion for half a century.

The toll money collected over the remains of Outside the Beltway communities should remain outside the Beltway.  The NVTA should ensure they do exactly that when they decide how to allocate the funds in October 2017.

Arlington’s request seeks improvements to the East Falls Church Metro station, with the lion’s share – $23 million – to provide design and engineering of a second entrance to the station from Washington Boulevard. The overall project cost is estimated at $96 million.

 County officials also are seeking an estimated $6 million for the addition of two bus bays in the current bus loop at the station, along with miscellaneous upgrades to shelters and pedestrian access.

Inside Nova:  Arlington board to seek region cash for East Falls Church Metro upgrade


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