Fairfax Co. board backs I-66 plan, with conditions, ahead of key vote

FAIRFAX, Va. — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to conditionally support the plan that would add new toll lanes outside the Capital Beltway.

The board voted unanimously on a late agenda item to send a letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. The board will support the preferred alternative for the design of the project as long as the Virginia Department of Transportation continues to work with the county on a long list of issues.

“This really does get into minimizing the impact of this project on our Fairfax County residents and businesses,” Chairman Sharon Bulova says.

The letter says the endorsement of the plan is “contingent upon VDOT’s continued progress” toward addressing the county’s comments.

The board emphasizes the importance of transit projects such as the addition of sound walls and lower flyover ramps. Also important are plans to complete improvements to the interchange at Monument Drive, which will allow for a possible future Metrorail extension. The board is also hoping to reduce the amount of land, and number of property owners, affected by construction and eminent domain laws.

Also, the board is asking for assurance that other road projects, still in the planning stage, will be built without a reimbursement requirement for toll lane operators worried about losing traffic.

The board requests that plans be considered for future HOV lanes on certain roads, as well as a plan to widen the Beltway between Tysons Corner and I-66.

Fairfax County Transportation Director Tom Besiadny says that VDOT has “made significant progress on the issues that have previously been identified, but there is still work to be done.”

The board had to act on Tuesday so that its position would be taken into account at a regional Transportation Planning Board meeting on Wednesday. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will vote next week on the plan to widen I-66 from the Beltway to Gainesville.

The plan would change the roadway into two toll lanes that will be free for vehicles with three or more people in the car, in addition to the three regular lanes. The plan would also add rush-hour bus service and new bicycle and pedestrian connections in some areas.

This project is separate from, but related to, the plan to convert I-66’s lanes inside the Beltway to HOV or toll Express Lanes during rush-hour periods. That plan is scheduled to be implemented by 2017, while the outside-the-Beltway plan is scheduled to be completed by 2021.

The boards of supervisors in Loudoun and Prince William counties have voted to oppose various parts of the plans.

The final public meeting before the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s vote on the plan is Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Piney Branch Elementary School, in Bristow.

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