I-66 Express Lanes: Nine Miles in Virginia will open around September 10


A nine-mile section of the 66 express lanes outside the ring road will open to traffic as early as Sept. 10, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced Friday, giving drivers on the busy suburban route the chance to test the new toll system which is expected to fully open before the end of the year.

Transportation officials are phasing in the beginnings of the new lanes, which stretch from the Beltway Interchange at Fairfax to Gainesville in Prince William County. The westernmost section, from Route 29 in Gainesville to Route 28 in Centerville, will open on or about September 10, VDOT said. The exact date will be determined in the coming days as crews work to complete final preparations, the agency said.

The remaining 13 miles of the 22.5-mile system are scheduled to open in December. The partial opening is expected to allow drivers to familiarize themselves with new traffic patterns along the road as the fifth year of construction wraps up on the $3.7 billion widening program. The new lanes will be the latest addition to the region’s growing network of expressways, more than 60 miles of which are in northern Virginia.

Peripheral ramp to open as I-66 HOT lanes on track for December debut

“By opening the western segment of the new 66 express lanes early, we are able to begin relieving congestion for I-66 travelers sooner than expected,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich said in a statement. .

State officials say the project will reduce traffic congestion and provide drivers in the Interstate 66 corridor with a more reliable route. Motorists will be able to choose between the general lanes, which will remain free, or the new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, which buses, carpoolers and motorcyclists can use for free.

The project retains three eastbound and westbound general purpose lanes, adding two HOT lanes in each direction. These lanes will connect to 10 miles of rush-hour and rush-hour toll lanes that opened in December 2017 between the ring road and the district.

The new HOT lanes are the result of a public-private partnership between Virginia and I-66 Express Mobility Partners, a consortium of investors that will maintain and operate the toll lanes under a 50-year concession.

Group CEO Javier Gutierrez said opening this month “will ensure a great customer experience when the full hallway opens at the end of the year,” and he added in a statement he will launch ” the benefits that the new managed routes and project improvements will bring.

Other improvements in the corridor include the addition of over 4,000 new park-and-ride spaces with express lane access, new and improved bus service, new ramps and improved interchanges, and 11 miles of new trails. cyclists and pedestrians.

Drivers traveling eastbound on I-66 will be able to join the toll lanes from the general lanes before Route 29 in Gainesville and using a ramp near Route 234 Business. Westbound traffic will have access before Route 28. The ramps at Route 234/Sudley Road, Route 28, and Braddock and Walney Roads will also route traffic to the toll lanes, as will the ramps at commuter parking lots. from University Boulevard in Gainesville and Century Park. Boulevard in Manassas.

The toll system will operate 24 hours a day, which officials say is intended to create an incentive for drivers who want to travel for free to carpool. The lanes will have a dynamic pricing system, with tolls that increase and decrease depending on traffic conditions.

Project officials declined to say what an average toll would be or how much time drivers would save on a trip if they used the toll lanes. When the toll system was launched five years ago in the corridors inside the Beltway section, drivers paid up to $40 for the 10-mile journey.

Nancy H. Smith, spokeswoman for contracting firm FAM Construction, a joint venture of Ferrovial Construction and Allan Myers, said drivers will be able to pay a toll using an E-ZPass or pay online on Ride66express.com. They can also pay by mail, over the phone, or in person at a customer service center in Manassas.

High occupancy vehicle rules will change along the corridor when the entire toll lane system opens in December. Vehicles will need to have three occupants to qualify for the free ride — a rule that will apply through the I-66 corridor of the DC line in Gainesville. Currently, drivers using the 66 express lanes inside the Beltway during peak periods are required to travel with at least one passenger.

Drivers should expect increased activity and changes in traffic patterns in the coming weeks as crews prepare to open toll lanes. Testing of the toll gates is continuing, as well as the installation of flexible poles which will separate the toll lane from the general lanes.

An extended lane closure went into effect Wednesday on the west side between Manassas and Gainesville. This lane will remain closed until September 10, reducing the number of traffic lanes in this section of the corridor to three, officials said. There may be other potential overnight lane closures in the area.

The ring road’s first new off-ramp opened late last month, a major change for traffic flowing at this interchange. Traffic from the northbound lanes of the Beltway now uses a new ramp to westbound I-66. Other recently opened ramps include those at the Route 123 and Route 234 interchanges.

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