I-66 Toll Lanes in Virginia Set to Open by Year End


Changes are coming this fall to Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia, where construction is winding down on a multi-billion dollar road widening and new express lanes set to debut by the end of the year. year. The first new Beltway off-ramp will open next week.

Construction is underway for the December opening of high occupancy (HOT) toll lanes stretching from University Boulevard in Gainesville to the Capital Beltway, the Virginia Department of Transportation said. Paving and tracing will be completed in the coming months as crews continue to work on opening new ramps and bridges, installing traffic signs and toll gates, and testing toll technology.

Unlike other major transportation projects in Washington State Region like the nearby Silver Line subway extension and Maryland’s Purple Line rail project — I-66 tracks are on schedule and on budget, despite pandemic and supply chain challenges, officials said . Their opening will bring transformational change to the busy 22.5 miles of highway outside the nation’s capital.

“We’ve got billions of dollars worth of work, and we’re delivering it on time, with everyone working very hard together at very unusual times,” said Susan Shaw, director of megaprojects at VDOT.

The expansion of I-66 outside the beltway is among Virginia’s largest and costliest transportation projects in history, carrying a price tag of around $3.7 billion. The project is being built through a public-private partnership between the state and I-66 Express Mobility Partners, a consortium of investors that will maintain and operate the toll lanes under a 50-year concession.

The project will retain three eastbound and westbound general purpose lanes, adding two HOT lanes in each direction – typically with 10 through lanes. These lanes will connect to 10 miles of rush-hour and rush-hour toll lanes that opened in December 2017 between the ring road and the district.

As of 2020: I-66 expands in the midst of a pandemic and toll lanes are two years away. Commuters are seeing the changes.

The new lanes will be the latest addition to the region’s growing network of expressways, more than 60 miles of which are in northern Virginia. State transportation officials say they expect improvements to interchanges, ramps and transit connections will provide relief along the traffic congested corridor.

Drivers are starting to see some of these improvements as new bridges and ramps near completion. Traffic patterns along the corridor are changing, with lane closures and split traffic on some sections.

A middle finger a new ramp will open around August 25 at the I-66 interchange with the Beltway – marking the first off-ramp and bridge in this area to carry traffic under the project. Traffic from the northbound lanes of the Beltway will take a new ramp to I-66 westbound. Other recently opened ramps include those at the Route 123 and Route 234 interchanges.

Somewhere else, a final installation of bridge girders will be installed later this month at the Route 28 interchange – the corridor’s busiest junction after the ring road – where work also includes the removal of four traffic lights between the boulevard Westfields and Route 29 in Centerville to help ease traffic congestion.

The teams worked at 12 interchanges, on 63 bridges and viaducts, and along over 11 miles of new bike paths in the corridor. Workers have collectively put in more than 11 million hours, officials said, working with more than 3 million tons of asphalt and 57 million pounds of steel.

At the height of the project, no less than 2,000 workers were on hand to complete approximately $70 million of work each month. As construction on the project wraps up in its fifth year, workers are still scattered across the corridor.

Nancy H. Smith, spokeswoman for contracting firm FAM Construction, a joint venture of Ferrovial Construction and Allan Myers, said up to 1,000 workers were on site.

“We’re sort of coming down that hill again, but still at over $30 million in construction activity per month, which is just huge,” Smith said. “We look forward to opening the expressways by the end of the year and being able to provide more reliable travel options in the corridor.”

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When the lanes open, motorists will be able to choose between the general lanes, which will remain free, or the new toll lanes, which buses, carpoolers and motorcyclists can use free of charge. Single drivers will pay to use the lanes. Carpoolers will need an E-ZPass Flex transponder to use the lanes without paying. The lanes will have a dynamic pricing system, with tolls that increase and decrease depending on traffic conditions.

High occupancy vehicle rules will change along the corridor when the new lanes open. Vehicles will need to have three occupants to qualify for the free ride — a rule that will apply through the I-66 corridor of the DC line in Gainesville. Currently, drivers using the I-66 express lanes inside the Beltway during peak periods are required to travel with at least one passenger.

An opening this year would be a significant achievement for a project of this scale in the Washington area. The I-66 express lanes were originally scheduled to open in July, but early in the process the schedule was pushed back to late 2022 due to funding delays, officials said.

Virginia 95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg will open in late 2023

Other major projects in the area have been plagued by lengthy delays, including an expansion of the I-95 expressways in Fredericksburg, which was originally slated to open this year but is expected to open in late 2023 — while topping $100 million. the budget. The Silver Line extension in Virginia and the Purple Line light rail project in Maryland are years behind schedule and millions in budget overruns.

Along I-66, drivers will continue to see more traffic splits on different sections of the road as paving operations progress. Most of the remaining the work is on the eastern end of the corridor, as well as around the Beltway and Route 28 interchanges. The western section has toll gates and is ready for testing, officials said.

“There will continue to be traffic changes,” Shaw said. “Driving through these major interchanges, people need to stay alert and look for new traffic patterns as we complete the work.”

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