Va. officials' plan to ease traffic on I-66 comes with a price

FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - As traffic seems to be getting worse on Interstate 66, state officials were part of a much-anticipated board meeting Thursday with Commonwealth Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

The focus was on the future of the old and overwhelmed highway, from the Capital Beltway to Route 15 in Haymarket.

"There will be three free lanes in each direction at all times. But there will be an addition of what are called 'managed lanes'—or toll lanes—where, if you choose, if you don't want to stay in the backup when there is one, you can choose to pay and speed along at a higher speed than sitting in the free lanes," Lane explained Thursday.

The expansion of light rail, bus rapid transit and VRE are also in the works.

Several Virginia delegates expressed concerns Thursday about how much congestion will be alleviated with this idea.

"What's the benefit going to be motorists on I-66?" asked Del. James LeMunyon (D-67th). "That's an answerable question, but I didn't hear the answer to that today."

Environmental assessment, engineering design and data collection is underway, and after public input is considered over the next several months, construction is expected to begin in 2017.

"People will demand that they find [a solution]," said Gainesville resident Bruce Davis, who attended the meeting to listen in. "People get tired of just sitting on the interstate like it's a parking lot."

With the expiration of the highway trust fund looming, the question was raised Thursday about how much of an impact this project will have on taxpayers in the Commonwealth.

Toll revenue will more than likely pay for much of the construction of this plan, which will reportedly cost between $2 billion and $3 billion.

"There will be tolls, but there will always be a free alternative," Lane pointed out. "The public should take that much away."