Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe situated himself overlooking Interstate 66 Monday to announce at a groundbreaking event that work will begin within weeks on the installation of tolling infrastructure on the interstate inside the Beltway.
While the tolling part of the comprehensive effort to revamp I-66 is less than popular with many, the component that will be most beneficial to area commuters, the expansion of an additional lane of the four-mile stretch going east from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit at Ballston in Arlington, will not commence until next year or be ready until 2018.
But McAuliffe stated at the groundbreaking event Monday, “Since the beginning of our administration, we made it our top transportation priority to improve Virginia’s infrastructure and unclog the bottlenecks on our most congested highways. This project is a big step forward in our work to transform one of the most important corridors in Northern Virginia, and it will ensure that drivers have faster, safer and more reliable commutes every day.”
The Virginia Department of Transportation project will give commuters more flexibility from the Capital Beltway to the Lee Highway exit in Rosslyn, McAuliffe stated.
The initial stage includes the installation of tolling equipment along this corridor and signage on local streets approaching the highway. “The new I-66 inside the Beltway will be the nation’s first roadway with dynamic tolling on all lanes during peak-period traffic, keeping traffic moving at highway speeds by adjusting toll prices based on traffic volume,” the governor said.
“This project also moves us one step closer to giving travelers an express lanes network across more than 90 miles in Northern Virginia,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “With this project, we’re providing better ways to get around and helping to reduce the congestion that now burdens so many of us.”
It was noted that toll revenues will fund multimodal improvements, giving commuters expanded options for travel. The Commonwealth Transportation Board recently approved a nearly $10 million program to fund a series of multimodal projects identified by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
Contracts totaling $60 million were awarded to Fort Myer Construction for tolling infrastructure construction and to TransCore for tolling equipment installation.
The project includes eight overhead electronic toll collection gantries on I-66 and approximately 125 signs along I-66 and local roads approaching the highway.
The work will require periodic lane closures on local roads approaching I-66 interchanges, ramp closures and night-time lane closures along I-66 itself. Brief, occasional total closures of I-66 will occur during overnight construction to install the overhead gantries. Construction is due to conclude next year.