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Feds give go-ahead on I-66 transformation

FAIRFAX, Va. — The Federal Highway Administration has given its blessing to Virginia to move forward with plans to transform one of the region’s most heavily congested commuter routes — Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway.

After a two-year study, the federal highway agency ruled that the Virginia Department of Transportation can begin seeking bids for design and construction of a multi-modal system in the 25-mile stretch between Route 15 in Haymarket and the Beltway.

“We now have the ‘green light’ to move forward in remaking I-66 and providing new ways to move people with greater efficiency,” said Helen Cuervo, VDOT’s Northern Virginia district engineer.

VDOT envisions an improved I-66 that would include two express toll lanes and three regular lanes in each direction.

Virginia recently voted to upgrade the carpool standard from HOV-2 to HOV-3, when the express lanes open, likely in 2020. New and expanded commuter lots will be built to assist drivers with ride-sharing options along the corridor.

In a statement, VDOT said that the stretch of interstate highway will also include high-frequency bus service with predictable travel times.

The improvements would coincide with projected growth in the region — VDOT estimates population increases in Prince William and Fairfax counties, as well as Fairfax city, by as much as 20 percent by 2030. Employment is expected to surge by 50 percent during the same time period.

Meanwhile, VDOT is moving forward with separate plans to include high occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway.

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