Public invited to comment on I-66 toll plan ahead of vote

WASHINGTON — A plan to charge some drivers tolls on part of Interstate 66 goes up for a big vote this week, but first members of the public are invited to share their thoughts about it.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board votes Wednesday, Dec. 9, on whether to let people driving alone during rush hour use I-66 inside the Beltway legally by paying a toll.

But before that happens, the CTB wants to hear your comments on both the Inside and Outside the Beltway projects planned for I-66.

The Outside the Beltway plan would add two Express Lanes and three regular lanes in each direction between the Beltway and U.S. Route 15 in Haymarket.

A public meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at George Mason High School in Falls Church.

Public comments will also be accepted at the Wednesday CTB meeting.

“I think it’s a fair statement to say it’s the most contested and negotiated 10 miles of interstate in the entire country,” Deputy Transportation Secretary Nick Donohue says of the highway.

“It also has a ton of congestion that drivers face in rush hours and other times. There’s limited travel choices for single-occupancy drivers because the road, since it opened to traffic, has been restricted to HOV vehicles.  At the same time, there’s a need for additional travel choices for transit users.”

Opponents say the Inside the Beltway plan needs an overhaul, but Donohue disagrees.

“I’ll be very clear: This is not my idea of a perfect project, but we’re not starting from scratch. The Secretary (Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne) strongly believes this is the only solution that is balanced, pragmatic and implementable and can make a difference to a corridor that effectively has remained unchanged since it opened to traffic in 1982.”

Last week, the Northern Virginia Transportation Committee approved a 40-year agreement with the Commonwealth that will give local jurisdictions more say on how the money generated from I-66 tolls is used within the corridor.

That agreement is also scheduled to be approved by the CTB at its Wednesday meeting.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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