Richmond, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe and members from both parties and both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly announced a bipartisan agreement to move forward on a plan to reduce congestion on I-66 inside the beltway by widening a four-mile stretch from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, improving transit, and adding new options for single drivers.
The agreement will be reflected in the House amendments to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal after extensive negotiations between the Governor’s office, Delegate Jim LeMunyon and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones. Republicans in the House of Delegates have also agreed to table legislation that would have precluded an optional toll for single drivers on I-66 inside the beltway, a key revenue source for planned transit improvements.
“This agreement is a big win for Virginia’s economy and for the commuters who spend too much time on the most congested road in the most congested region in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “After a spirited political debate last fall, and a series of productive discussions after the General Assembly convened, we are proud to announce a compromise that will move our plan to transform I-66 inside and outside the beltway forward. This multi-pronged strategy will increase options and reduce commute times through improved transit, smarter management of the lanes we already have and a new agreement for a wider roadway both inside and outside the beltway. I want to thank the bipartisan group of leaders who worked together to advance this important project so that we can unlock I-66, grow our economy and improve the quality of life of the commuters who use this road every day.”
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “This plan will significantly improve the I-66 corridor by moving more people with fewer vehicles, giving solo drivers the option to stay on the road and pay a toll during the peak travel times and increasing carpools, buses and transit in the corridor. We will also begin the process to widen the road at a key bottleneck inside the beltway that will add further capacity without requiring the loss of any existing homes or businesses. This is a comprehensive plan that will ease congestion, support smart growth and advance the Governor’s goal of building a new Virginia economy.
The work to start widening of eastbound I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston will commence this year with an environmental assessment. Construction work will start in 2017 and the new lane will be open to traffic in 2019. This construction will take place within the existing right-of-way, will not take any homes and will be designed in a context sensitive manner.
Converts I-66 inside the beltway to Express Lanes during rush hours in the peak directions, widens I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road and improves transit service throughout the corridor.
In 2020, lanes will be free to vehicles with three or more people during rush-hours (carpoolers, vanpools and buses) and motorcycles per adopted regional policy. All others will pay a variable toll.
The lanes will remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods. There will be no tolling in the reverse commute.
All of the revenues raised from the tolls will be used by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for improvements in the corridor such as new transit service and carpooling incentives. Estimated toll revenue in 2018 is $18 million.
Toll revenues will finance the environmental work and construction to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston – eliminating the current bottleneck inside the beltway.
Estimated cost of construction is up to $140 million and will be funded with increased revenues from the recently passed FAST Act and improved state revenues. No revenues will be taken from the HB2 recommended projects released in January.
The expected benefits of the project include the following:
- Reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay a day in the future.
- Move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor a day in the future.
- Provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction.
- Provide increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers and better transit service.
Extensive studies performed over the past several administrations in Virginia show a combination of dynamic tolling and multi-modal improvements will provide a faster and more reliable trip on I-66 inside the beltway during peak travel times, providing a minimum reliable speed of at least 45 miles per hour.
Project information is available at http://inside.transform66.org.