Even though Arlington has demonstrated the phenomenal transportation benefits of linking transit and development, VDOT highway engineers and some non-Arlington officials are pressing ill-conceived highway expansion on the community.
VDOT has pressed to widen I-66 one-step-at-a-time toward a possible expansion of the entire highway to six lanes, despite a federal commitment to limit the road to four lanes and despite the fact the traffic will have nowhere to go once it hits DC’s streets. Today, VDOT is pursing a toll-lane agreement, with the revenues going toward transit improvements in the corridor. Given the history of the project, we think this compromise is the best deal Arlington is likely to see.
I-66 Inside the Beltway
In early September 2015, we updated you on plans for I-66 outside the Beltway. But plans for I-66 inside the Beltway — a combination of HOT lanes, HOV lanes, and transit — will impact Fairfax commuters, too.
Some people are unhappy with the HOT/HOV/transit plan and argue we should just widen I-66 all the way to the Roosevelt Bridge. VDOT’s existing plan for HOT lanes, which can be implemented quickly, will improve driving condition, and create more funding for other solutions like transit, helping more people move through the corridor during rush hour. It’s the more effective and sustainable thing to do.
In contrast, widening would take years of study, cost hundreds of millions of tax dollars, harm homes and neighborhoods, tie commuters up in years of construction, and ensure continued gridlock:
- There’s very limited right-of-way after passing Ballston, making community impacts, costs, and construction impact on traffic much higher.
- Then cars have nowhere to go after they leave the highway — we can’t widen historic Constitution Avenue and the connecting local streets in Arlington to fit more cars.
- And you can be certain more cars would come when widening temporarily frees up road space, only to see a return of gridlock.
I-66 Outside the Beltway
Fairfax County residents bear much of the burden of traffic on I-66 — in congestion, air pollution, and the highway’s effect on surrounding neighborhoods. So it’s critical to weigh in now with the Fairfax Board of Supervisors with the solutions you’d like to see for I-66.
The Virginia Dept. of Transportation’s (VDOT) solution is to construct 25 miles of HOT (high-occupancy toll) lanes on I-66 from the Beltway to Haymarket.
The lanes could be privately controlled like those on 495 and 95, and the new ramps and bridges will require taking homes, yards, and parks.