Virginia leaders offer solutions to I-66 gridlock

In this WTOP file photo, a red vehicle travels westbound on Interstate 66 in the HOV lane in Fairfax, Va. The Virginia Department of Transportation wants to convert the HOV lanes on I-66 to toll lanes similar to the new express lanes along Interstates 495 and 95. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

WASHINGTON — Every day, thousands of people sit in traffic on Interstate 66. And while the Virginia Department of Transportation studies the I-66 corridor from the Capital Beltway to U.S. 15, state officials have a variety of ideas on how to lessen the gridlock.

One possibility is adding new lanes, possibly with tolls.

“The governor believes that tolling for new capacity makes a lot of sense,” says Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

He adds that transit has to be part of the process as well.

Del. Jim LeMunyon, a Republican who represents Fairfax and Loudoun counties, says more lane capacity would help.

“We’ve got to put more lane capacity on I-66. I think that’s one of the solutions,” LeMunyon says.

He also touts the idea of building the Orange Line further west, although he allows that “as we’ve seen with the Silver Line, that’s not something that happens overnight.”

Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay points to the success that the HOT Lanes have had in relieving congestion on the Beltway. He says, however, that “66 is a little different. We need to make sure that whatever we do builds on transit usage.”

As far as transit goes, McKay says, “Everybody seems to want to extend Metro here, there and everywhere,” but he cautions that there’s only so much more capacity you can build onto Metro before “the system fails.”

He suggests a circulating bus that brings people to the Vienna Metro station.

WTOP’s Ari Ashe contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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