Oakton resident Lauren Stillman is among the commuters picking their way along a new route to I-66 east, after the Virginia Department of Transportation closed the Saintsbury Drive ramp in Fairfax County at midnight.
“I use the Saintsbury exit to 66 every day. I work in Tysons; I have friends in Tysons; so I’m always traveling in that direction. It will be interesting how traffic plays out now that that exit is closing,” Stillman said.
“It’s going to be a little more frustrating for me … I don’t really know how that’s going to bear out in my commute. It will add a couple of minutes, at least,” she said.
The Saintsbury ramp closure is part of I-66 construction outside the Beltway where express toll lanes are being added. When complete, Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project will feature three general purpose and two Express Lanes in each direction from I-495/Capital Beltway to Route 29 in Gainesville. The I-66 Outside the Beltway Express Lanes are expected to open in December 2022.
For now, drivers heading to eastbound I-66 from Saintsbury Drive will be directed to use the Nutley Street Interchange.
“I think people are concerned about how much longer their commutes will take, where their travel will be. We do understand that it’s an inconvenience,” said Susan Shaw, VDOT mega projects director, Northern Virginia District.
When the Saintsbury Drive ramp reopens next month, it will be assigned new limited duty: carrying only buses onto I-66.
On Wednesday night, Shaw, VDOT representatives and the I-66 construction contractor met with neighbors who live in the area of the Vienna Metro station and Oakton High School who are being impacted by the changes.
While some residents may not like losing access to I-66 from the ramp, Wolfgang Scherer, 57, an avid bicyclist who lives in the area, is hopeful.
“It will encourage people to use public transportation because it will allow bus lines to go to Centreville and Chantilly,” Scherer said. “On the other hand, it’s really hard to get people out of their cars.”
Another change coming to the area will be the 10-month closure of the Vaden Drive bridge over I-66 beginning in October.
This closure is to “allow construction crews to demolish the existing bridge and construct the new bridge within a shorter time period,” according to a VDOT news release. “Vaden Drive bridge will be rebuilt to accommodate the new footprint of I-66 with added bus and car-only express lanes access ramps to and from the west.
Drivers will be detoured to Nutley street.
During the construction, drivers will still be able to reach the Vienna Metrorail parking garages north and south of I-66 as well as the ramp from westbound I-66 to County Creek Road.
VDOT said crews will make improvements to the intersection of Saintsbury Drive and Nutley Street to help accommodate the additional traffic that’s expected there during the closure of Vaden Drive.
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