I-66 toll lane bike trail layout comes into focus

Updated designs for a bike trail next to Interstate 66 include funding plans for a complete route from Dunn Loring to near the Fairfax County line.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, the private contractor building most of the trail as part of toll lane construction and Fairfax County outlined the latest plans Thursday night to the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling.

The trail is planned largely along Interstate 66 with some diversions along streets near the highway.

Preliminary designs for the trail show some areas where the trail is at the same level as the highway lanes, and a number of areas where the trail is higher or lower than car traffic.

In spots where the trail is even with traffic and inside the sound wall, VDOT now plans a 50-inch tall concrete barrier next to an 8- to 10-foot path. Previous proposals included a lower concrete barrier topped by a fence.

“We’re pretty consistent with what we had previously. There are segments where the trail is on the highway side, and we have been consistent in terms of keeping it on the highway side when it’s near homes,” VDOT Megaprojects Director Susan Shaw said Friday.

Fairfax County and VDOT are also now confident they will be able to pay for the entire trail — going beyond the pieces right next to Interstate 66 to include pieces being built by VDOT, Fairfax County or the Fairfax County Park Authority.

“We weren’t honestly sure how we would fund those, but we do now have a funding plan and an implementation plan so we are now moving forward with that, and it does take the funded portion of the trail all the way out to Compton Road,” Shaw said.

That would bring the trail — including the segments where it cuts away from Interstate 66 near the Fairfax County Parkway, Vienna Metro and Fairfax County Government Center — to about 14 miles.

The trail would stop just east of Bull Run Regional Park, off Compton Road. Prince William County hopes to extend the trail later, but there is no schedule for that.

“Past Compton Rd., we don’t have a plan beyond that. We do have an alignment identified in the Bull Run Regional Park but we don’t have any funding that’s been identified for that,” Shaw said.

VDOT will be responsible for maintaining the trail and new pedestrian and bicycle traffic counters when the trail opens by the end of 2022.

It is possible certain segments could open earlier than that, Shaw said, depending on how construction plans develop.

The main part of the trail is being built as part of the Interstate 66 toll lanes between Gainesville and the Capital Beltway.

That project is due to open by the end of 2022, with a few interim milestones coming sooner, such as the first part of a University Boulevard Park and Ride Lot by the end of this year and Route 28 traffic light changes by the end of 2020.

More community meetings on still-changing designs, noise and construction plans are expected in late spring.

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