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Where should I-66 outside the Beltway toll money go?

Tolls are in effect on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — With construction on new toll lanes ramping up this year on Interstate 66 between Gainesville and the Beltway, Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board is due to approve a number of projects next week that will be paid for by the toll lane operators.

After a public hearing Thursday, the board is due to vote Jan. 10 on how to spend $496 million of a $579 million payment that Express Mobility Partners gave the state as part of the construction agreement.

An additional $79 million is due to go toward oversight of the project, including public outreach, and there is some separate ongoing funding planned to support some transit options.

The lanes outside the Beltway, due to open in 2022, will operate like the 495 Express Lanes on the Beltway with two toll lanes each way, next to three regular lanes and a shoulder.

The construction also includes new park and ride facilities.

Each of the projects funded through this payment hopes to benefit some of the drivers who will be paying tolls in the lanes.

“There is regional consensus that these are projects that need to be funded to make this project work better for the people of Northern Virginia, which is the whole point of the concession payment,” said Commonwealth Transportation Board Northern Virginia District Member Mary Hynes last month.

The recommended projects (with the planned amount of funding from this payment) are:

  • Route 234/Balls Ford Road interchange and relocation in Prince William County ($145 million)
  • Virginia Railway Express Manassas Line upgrade — Phase I including railcars, station expansions at Broad Run, Manassas and Manassas Park, and an additional track near Manassas ($128.5 million)
  • Balls Ford Road widening from Groveton Road to Route 234 Business (Sudley Road) in Prince William ($67.4 million)
  • I-66 median widening from Lee Highway (Route 29) to Route 28 for future Orange Line extension to Centreville or other transit in Fairfax County ($40 million)
  • Commuter parking garage structure at Government Center/Fairfax Corner ($38.5 million)
  • George Snyder Trail in Fairfax City from Chain Bridge Road/Route 123 to Fairfax Boulevard/Route 50 ($13.6 million)
  • Widen planned Jermantown Road bridge to four lanes over I-66 in Fairfax County ($11 million)
  • Western bus maintenance facility in Prince William County ($11.1 million)
  • East Falls Church Metrobus bay expansion in Arlington ($4.8 million)
  • Monument Drive bridge pedestrian improvements in Fairfax County ($3.8 million)
  • Route 50/Waples Mill Road intersection improvements in Fairfax County ($2 million)
  • Construct Poplar Tree Road bridge to four lanes over Route 28 in Fairfax ($6 million)
  • Lee Highway pedestrian improvements in Fairfax County (complete missing sidewalk from Nutley Street to Vaden Drive) ($1.3 million)
  • Nutley Street SW multiuse trail to Metro in Vienna from Marshall Road SW to Tapawingo Road SW ($300,000)
  • Route 29 improvements from Shirley Gate Road to Pickwick Road ($23.3 million)

The Route 29 improvements were not initially recommended by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for funding under this payment, but a new design for the Route 234/Balls Ford Road interchange in Prince William County freed up additional money.

Virginia transportation leaders suggested to replace Fairfax County funding on the Route 29 widening, given the county’s initial investment in a new ramp to the Vienna Metro from Interstate 66 that ended up being pulled into the toll lane construction contract.

The public hearing Thursday begins at 6:30 p.m. at VDOT’s Northern Virginia District Office at 4975 Alliance Drive in Fairfax.

Comments on the projects can also be submitted through Monday Jan. 8 by email with the subject line “I-66 Concession Projects,” or by sending regular mail to Ms. Maria Sinner, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

The lanes outside the Beltway are separate from the rush-hour-only tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway. When the outside the Beltway lanes open, the requirement for a free ride inside the Beltway during the hours tolls apply is scheduled to go from a minimum of two people in the car to a minimum of three.


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