Trio of Md., Va. highway projects moves forward

WASHINGTON — Changes along Interstate 270 in Maryland, new toll lanes on Interstate 66 outside the Capital Beltway in Virginia and the conversion of the Interstate 395 HOV lanes to toll lanes near the Pentagon all took steps forward Wednesday.

The $100 million interchange and technology improvements for I-270, and the plans for toll lanes on I-66, were approved for required air quality testing by the region’s Transportation Planning Board.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board separately approved a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon about construction and maintenance tied to the toll-lane extension up I-395.

One primary feature of the conversion of those HOV lanes to toll lanes is a significant change to improve traffic flow for cars and buses going to and from the Pentagon, which the memorandum shows is expected to cost up to $10 million.

The work includes new bus lanes around parts of the Pentagon’s South Parking Area, a fourth lane on South Rotary Road between Eads Street and Fern Street, and Hayes Street Parking Area improvements that will temporarily allow tour buses to park there.

The memorandum with the Department of Defense shows that VDOT plans to enter into a revised contract with Transurban this month to extend their 95 Express Lanes north to the D.C. line, including the construction projects near and on the Pentagon Reservation.

VDOT addresses I-66 complaints

A handful of Dunn Loring residents complained again Wednesday at the Transportation Planning Board Meeting about portions of the I-66 toll project.

VDOT Northern Virginia Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton said precise details about some ramps and interchanges are still being worked out.

“We basically are still at the beginning stages; however, we have three sets of design teams working on this project,” she said.

The designs are scheduled to be complete in time for a design public hearing this fall.

“Express Mobility Partners came on board very recently, as of December, so they’ve now set up shop in Fairfax and they will be working on the design,” Hamilton said.

VDOT and the private group that is building and designing the lanes are meeting with neighborhood groups ahead of more formal public information meetings in mid-June.

“We will continue to work with the citizens, but we also want everyone to realize the importance of this particular project and the overall benefit,” Hamilton said.

The toll lanes between the Beltway and Gainesville are meant to provide a faster option for vehicles with three or more people inside, for buses or for people willing to pay a toll that rises and falls based on the number of vehicles in the lane. The rules will apply round-the-clock when the lanes open in 2022.

The project is separate from, but related to, the rush-hour-only tolls that will begin later this year for solo drivers on I-66 inside the Beltway.

Some VDOT studies have shown that conversion could increase traffic elsewhere.

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