Express Lanes for I-66?

Interstate 66 is often congested during the morning commute. (WTOP/Rich Hunter)

WASHINGTON – It’s a question Washington-area motorists have been asking for the last few years: Is paying a toll for a faster trip worth it?

Drivers will soon ask that question about another congested highway. Virginia is looking for a new way to relieve congestion on Interstate 66 and has put out a “Request for Information” to the private sector to solicit ideas.

That could eventually lead to more Express Lanes with tolls, similar to those now operating on the Inner Loop and Outer Loop of I-495 and lanes now under construction on I-95 between Alexandria and Massaponax.

This time, though, the proposal is in the East-West corridor, where there has been substantial opposition to tolls hikes on the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Greenway.

The project would run from the intersection with the Capital Beltway west along I-66 to Gainesville in Prince William County.

“It is a creative way to finance the construction of roads, and I think we ought to be looking at it from both the private sector and the public sector,” says Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity.

The new Express Lanes would allow for more bus rapid transit. The state wants all ideas in by November.

There are already short-term plans to expand Virginia Railway Express to Gainesville and Haymarket. But Herrity says there are not enough population centers along the corridor to justify extending Metro’s Orange Line, as some have suggested.

That line, which runs along the I-66 median, now terminates in Vienna.

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