Arlington board wants I-66 widening delayed

WASHINGTON — Arlington County, Virginia, leaders made it clear Saturday that they want to delay the widening of Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway for as long as possible in hopes that it is not needed.

Part of Virginia’s plan to add tolls for solo drivers and expand High Occupancy Vehicle restriction hours on I-66 inside the Beltway includes the eventual widening of the highway between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston.

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote Thursday on an official position on the project, which is expected to include a request that any widening plans be considered no sooner than 2025.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, along with leaders in Loudoun and Prince William counties, support building a third eastbound lane as soon as possible after tolls are first implemented in 2017.

The third eastbound lane would run about 4 miles from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston.

Amanda Baxter. special projects development manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation, spoke to the Arlington County Board Saturday, saying the agency is trying to strike a balance in the framework being worked out with the region now.

VDOT’s proposal calls for the widening to be considered around 2023, two years after HOV rules switch from requiring two people in the car to requiring three.

The switch is expected to coincide with the opening of the new I-66 HOV or toll lanes that are planned in each direction between the Beltway and Gainesville, Virginia. Those lanes will follow rules similar to the 95/495 Express Lanes with HOV or toll rules enforced 22 hours a day, seven days a week.

The tolls and HOV rules inside the Beltway are only set to be enforced in the peak direction for four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening.

Today, the HOV rules apply to all traffic using I-66 inside the Beltway in the peak direction, but only for 2 1/2 hours each morning and 2 1/2 hours each afternoon.

The changes would eliminate exemptions for drivers heading to or from Dulles International Airport.

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