The 2016 General Assembly Session has officially reached the halfway point known as Crossover, the deadline for each house to complete work on their own bills before sending them down the hall to the other chamber. Last week, committees and subcommittees worked diligently to hear all the legislation in time to get it to the floor for a vote before the deadline. As that deadline approached, we voted on and debated more than 200 bills and resolutions this past Monday.
Next month, I’ll provide a wrap up of all the bills that passed both houses and are likely to be signed by the Governor. This month, though, the biggest news affecting my constituents is the deal between legislative leaders and the Governor to unclog Interstate 66. The deal is a combination of widening within the existing right of way to add capacity and allowing non-HOV vehicles to use the road during restricted hours by paying a toll.
The deal proposes to convert I-66 inside the beltway to Express Lanes during rush hours in the peak directions, widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road, and improve transit service throughout the corridor.
During the morning and evening rush hours, carpoolers with two or more people will continue to ride for free when the dynamic tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017. Solo drivers can also use the lanes provided that they pay the toll based on the distance traveled.
Starting in 2020, the lanes will be free to carpoolers with three or more people during rush hours while everyone else will pay a variable toll. However, the lanes will remain free during off-peak periods and there will be no tolling for reverse commuters.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) will use all the revenue raised from the tolls for improvements involving new transit services and carpooling incentives. Current revenue estimates for 2018 is $18 million.
Eliminating the current bottleneck inside the beltway, the increased revenues from the FAST Act and the revised state revenue forecast will provide funding for environmental work and construction to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston.
Construction costs are estimated to be $140 million, which will be funded with increased revenues from the FAST Act and the projected improved state revenues.
This I-66 Project is projected to reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay per day, move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor per day, provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction, and allow increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers plus overall better transit service.
VDOT Design Public Hearing
On Wednesday, March 9, VDOT will host a Design Public Hearing at their NOVA District Office (4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax) from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. with a presentation at 6:30 p.m. The presentations will be live-streamed on the Transform66.org website.
The Design Public Hearing will provide opportunities for the public to:
• Learn how the dynamically-priced toll lanes will operate on I-66 Inside the Beltway;
• Review proposed locations and design of toll gantries and pricing signs;
• View displays and discuss your questions with VDOT staff
• Attend the formal presentation, followed by a public comment period;
• Submit oral and/or written comments.
Given the impact this transportation deal will have on Northern Virginia and the 53rd District, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Please email me at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov with your questions and comments.
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov