|BRISTOL, Va. –
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) briefed today the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) on the recommended design concept for Transforming I-66 Outside the Beltway. Referred to as the project’s “preferred alternative,” the recommended approach consists of multi-modal improvements to 25 miles of I-66 from I-495 in Fairfax County to Route 15 in Haymarket. These improvements include two express lanes alongside three regular lanes in each direction, with space in the median for future transit; dedicated express lanes access points; safety and operational improvements at key interchanges throughout the corridor; new transit services such as new and expanded park and ride lots and bus service, and corridor-wide bikeway, trail, and sidewalk improvements.
Recognizing the cost and complexity of the proposed improvements, VDOT recommends the project be implemented in phases. The proposed first phase extends the express lanes for 22 of the original 25 miles, from 495 to Gainesville, (University Boulevard), and then transitioning to a traditional HOV lane in each direction. An HOV lane from Gainesville to Route 15 in Haymarket is under construction as part of VDOT’s I-66 Widening Project. Phase 1 also proposes retaining existing ramps and bridges, and converting them to express lanes access points, at Monument Drive and Stringfellow Road, rather than rebuilding these interchanges. Extending the express lanes to Route 15 in Haymarket and rebuilding the Monument Drive and Stringfellow Road interchanges would be implemented in the future as funding becomes available and demand warrants.
The recommended preferred alternative is a hybrid of the various alternatives that were evaluated over the past year. The combined package is recommended due to its multimodal approach and ability to move more people throughout the corridor, reduce hours of congestion per day, and reduce cut-through traffic on local roads. The preferred alternative reflects extensive public input received at more than 160 public meetings and several other communications channels such as formal comments, website, email, and social media.
The design concepts have been evaluated in a draft Environmental Assessment, which was presented at public hearings in May and June 2015, and also reflect revisions that have minimized the project’s footprint and significantly reduced the number of potential residential relocations by more than half of the original concepts.
The recommended preferred alternative will be will be presented to residents for their input during public meetings in October. Following that, the CTB will vote whether or not to approve the recommendation during their board meeting on Oct. 28.
The final environmental document is expected to be completed and a procurement approach determined for I-66 Outside the Beltway by late 2015. Construction of the project is slated to begin in 2017, with the improvements open to traffic in 2021. For more details, visit www.Transform66.org.