Frequently Asked Questions
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), in coordination with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), will upgrade I-66 outside the Beltway to include:
- Three regular lanes in each direction;
- Two express lanes in each direction from I-495 (the Capital Beltway) to Gainesville (University Boulevard);
- New and expanded transit service and park-and-ride lots; and
- Interchange improvements to enhance safety and reduce congestion, including auxiliary lanes between interchanges, where needed.
The project is approximately 22 miles, extending from I-495 (the Capital Beltway) to Gainesville (University Boulevard).
Vehicles with three or more occupants and buses will travel for free. Vehicles with less than three occupants can choose to use the lanes and pay a toll. Toll rates will increase as traffic volumes on the express lanes increase so that traffic flows freely.
Yes, three regular lanes will be open to all traffic and will not be tolled.
The images below illustrate how I-66 will generally look when the project is completed.
Gainesville to Manassas, Centreville to the Capital Beltway
Manassas to Centreville
During the procurement process that led to the selection of I-66 Express Mobility Partners (66 EMP), VDOT fostered innovation by allowing proposers to submit new ideas. These new design ideas, called Alternative Technical Concepts or ATCs, were kept confidential during the procurement process to maintain each team’s competitive advantage.
Following the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement between VDOT and 66 EMP in December 2016, ATCs included in the 66 EMP proposal as well as additional ATCs have been under consideration. Initial concepts and ideas were presented during public briefings and at public information meetings in June 2017. VDOT and 66 EMP will continue to engage the public on new design concepts and are working to complete environmental and traffic analyses before design plans are finalized.
66 EMP’s concept plans submitted in October 2016 are shown here and include:
- Mainline transition ramps east of Sudley Road (Route 234 Business)
- Benefits: Improved connectivity between the express lanes and general purpose lanes and allows express lanes access from interchanges to the west
- Reconfiguration of Stringfellow Road express lanes access
- Benefits: Express lanes access in median of I-66 while providing space for future transit and reducing the overall right of way impact by eliminating an elevated ramp over the I-66 westbound lanes
- Modified interchange ramps at Route 50
- Benefit: Similar express lanes access as the VDOT concept, but eliminates the flyover ramp from Route 50 westbound to I-66 westbound
- Express lanes ramps at Route 123 to and from the west
- Benefit: Additional access to and from the express lanes
- Two new ramps at the I-495 Interchange
- Benefit: Better connectivity between the general purpose lanes and express lanes
A proposed elevated ramp south of I-66 at Dunn Loring, which would eliminate the need to relocate a WMATA traction power substation, was shown in 66 EMP’s Technical Proposal. In response to concerns raised by neighboring communities, the ramp is no longer under consideration and was eliminated in the concept plans posted in June 2017. An alternative solution is being developed to relocate the substation.
66 EMP, working with VDOT and key stakeholders, is considering additional concepts beyond those in their proposal. These include:
- Additional express lanes access at the Route 50 Interchange
- Benefit: Access from Route 50 westbound to eastbound express lanes
- Express lanes access at the Fairfax County Parkway Interchange
- Benefit: Access from Fairfax County Parkway northbound to express lanes westbound
- Route 28 interchange reconfiguration and access
- Benefits: Reduces the vertical footprint of the interchange, reduces the number of bridge and retaining wall structures, and provides additional access from Braddock Road and Walney Road to and from the express lanes.
Decisions on whether these concepts will be included in the project will be made in the latter half of 2017.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with a Record of Decision in November 2013. The EIS studied potential multimodal improvements that could address existing and future transportation needs in the I-66 corridor. The study was developed by VDOT, DRPT and FHWA.
During the Tier 1 process, VDOT and DRPT identified ten concepts that would increase capacity, provide multimodal options, improve individual interchanges, and address safety and operations.
A Tier 1 EIS differs from a traditional EIS in that it focuses on broad issues, such as purpose and need, travel modes (bus, carpool, rail transit, car, etc.), technology choices and the general location of proposed improvements.
For additional information, please refer to the Tier 1 Final EIS and Record of Decision.
In July 2014, VDOT and DRPT initiated a Tier 2 Environmental Assessment (EA), which addressed a set of transportation improvements identified in the Tier 1 EIS. The EA’s Purpose and Need statement reiterated the existing and future transportation conditions and needs that were defined in the Tier 1 Final EIS and provided updated supporting traffic and transportation information.
The purpose of the project is to address existing and future transportation problems on I-66 and improve multimodal mobility by providing diverse travel choices in a cost-effective manner. It is also to enhance transportation safety and travel reliability.
The Tier 2 EA studied a combination of improvement concepts from the Tier 1 Final EIS, including:
- Two express lanes and three regular lanes in each direction and preserving a median for future transit service;
- Dedicated access points serving the express lanes;
- High-frequency, fast and reliable bus service during extended peak periods;
- New and expanded park-and-ride lots, all having direct access to the express lanes;
- Corridor-wide bikeway, trail and sidewalk improvements; and
- Safety and operational improvements at key interchanges.
Presented to the public in spring 2015, the Tier 2 Draft EA included evaluations of site-specific conditions and potential effects from proposed improvements on air quality, noise, neighborhoods, parks, recreation areas, historic properties, wetlands and streams. The Tier 2 Revised EA was made available for public review and comment in January 2016.
In July 2016, after reviewing the Tier 2 Final EA, the Federal Highway Administration published a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway improvements. This step cleared the way for the project to move forward with design and construction.
Travelers in vehicles with three or more occupants and buses will travel for free. Travelers in vehicles with less than three occupants can choose to use the lanes and pay a toll.
The toll rates will vary based on demand. The price will increase as more vehicles enter the express lanes and will decrease when there are fewer vehicles.
Raising the occupancy requirement will move more people in fewer vehicles, relieving traffic congestion and helping the region to meet federal air quality requirements. The change will occur in mid-2022, when the outside the Beltway express lanes open to the public. By 2022 additional infrastructure will be in place to support the formation of carpools outside the Beltway and additional transit and other alternatives to solo driving will be operational both inside and outside the Beltway.
Toll rates will increase as traffic volumes increase so that traffic flows freely.
The express lanes on I-66 will use an electronic toll collection system (like the 495 Express Lanes and 95 Express Lanes). To use the express lanes, drivers will be required to have an E-ZPass transponder mounted inside their vehicle. Tolls will be collected when their vehicles pass below the overhead toll-collection gantries.
If a vehicle does not have an E-ZPass transponder, a photograph will be taken of the vehicle's license plate and a bill will be mailed to the registered owner in the amount of the toll, plus a processing fee.
Yes. Motorists who regularly travel with three or more passengers are encouraged to get an E-ZPass Flex transponder, which can be switched to HOV mode, so they will not be charged for their trip.
Buses will not need an E-ZPass to use the express lanes.
Yes, motorcyclists will travel for free and will not need an E-ZPass to use the express lanes.
With the project occupying a wider footprint in certain locations along the 22.5-mile corridor, preliminary design plans indicate that partial and total acquisitions affecting approximately 200 private and commercial properties may be necessary, with most being partial acquisitions.
Project designs, including property impacts, will be available at design public hearings in fall 2017, where right-of-way representatives will answer questions regarding the right-of-way acquisition process.
Impacted property owners will be contacted by right-of-way specialists, who will guide them through how the Commonwealth works with property owners to acquire property necessary for projects like Transform 66, a process that is designed to protect the rights of property owners.
VDOT’s information pamphlet, Right of Way and Utilities: A Guide for Property Owners and Tenants is available on line. Click here for a copy of the brochure.
Any vehicle with two or more axles including motorcycles; mass transit vehicles, commuter buses and school buses; and trucks.
Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles, as well as multi-axle vehicles including large 18-wheel trucks and tractor trailer trucks pulling a single trailer, will be permitted to use the I-66 Express Lanes.
What types of trucks will not be allowed to use the I-66 Express Lanes?
Tractor-trailers pulling more than one trailer and personal vehicles towing trailers or boats will be prohibited from traveling on the I-66 Express Lanes.
Trucks will be tolled at a minimum of five times the regular toll rate for two-axle vehicles during peak periods, and will be tolled a minimum of three times the regular toll rate during all other times.
Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles can use the 495 and 95 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia.
On I-66 west of Route 28, large trucks account for about 4 percent of daily traffic; east of Route 28, large trucks account for about 3 percent of daily traffic. On I-81, trucks average between 20 and 30 percent of daily traffic; on I-95, trucks average about 7 percent of daily traffic on the general purpose lanes.
The chart below shows the actual number of large trucks as compared with other vehicle traffic during peak hours:
VDOT’s traffic analysis shows that by 2040, the proportion of large trucks using I-66 east of Route 28 will remain relatively consistent with current truck use, while large truck use west of Route 28 will increase slightly. During off-peak travel periods, large trucks will account for 4 to 6 percent of all traffic on the Express Lanes. Because trucks avoid congested periods to shorten delivery times, the proportion of trucks traveling on I-66 during rush hours already is lower than at other times, and is expected to be less than 1 percent of all traffic in 2040.
Roadway and ramp designs, such as ramp lengths allowing deceleration, turn radii, and lane and ramp widths, will take into account large trucks and will be developed in accordance with state and federal standards and procedures. Final designs will be approved by VDOT and FHWA.
The animations below show a comparison of existing traffic and trucks on I-66 and I-81, and future traffic with the new I-66 Express Lanes.
Allowing large trucks to use the I-66 Express Lanes can:
- Make travel easier in the general purpose lanes with fewer trucks during off-peak periods;
- Support local businesses that will be able to make more service calls;
- Improve the movement of goods and services; and
- Further remove trucks from communities adjacent to the general purpose lanes.
New bridges over I-66 will better accommodate bicycles and pedestrians, as well as connect routes. The project also provides opportunities to complete segments of the regional trail network. Segments of the network parallel and adjacent to I-66 will be constructed as part of the project. For other segments, VDOT is working to identify an implementation and funding plan with our local partners. The locations of proposed shared-use paths are shown on the concept plans.
The three existing trails listed below are located on roadway bridges that pass over I-66 and will remain open throughout construction.
- The Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail (Pickett Road/Blake Lane/Jermantown Road Trail Segment) (I-66 overpass on Blake Lane)
- W&OD Trail/City of Fairfax Connector Trail (I-66 overpass on Vaden Drive)
- W&OD Trail (on VDOT right of way east of I-495 and on I-66 overpass on Virginia Lane)
The project provides a feasible way of incorporating a future Metrorail extension from the existing line along I-66 to Centreville, as well as between Manassas and Gainesville, by preserving the center median, as well as by building wider and larger bridges over the highway.
Until an extension of Metrorail is approved, the project is providing a variety of transit and ride-sharing services, including park and ride lots, high frequency bus service, and bicycle and pedestrian access to meet the demands of the corridor.
Further widening of I-66 to accommodate transit between Centreville and Manassas would occur in the future, dependent upon funding and demand. This approach is consistent with the transportation plans of both Fairfax and Prince William counties, which include the extension of Metrorail within the I-66 right of way.
At this time, Metro is focusing on ensuring that equipment and facilities are in a state of good repair, increasing system capacity by purchasing and implementing eight car trains across the system, and improving core capacity. Metro does not anticipate any extensions of the system until these priority projects are completed. For more information on Metro's current high-priority operations and maintenance program, please see their SafeTrack plan. For more information on Metro's plans to improve service by 2025, please see their Momentum report.
Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is currently working on a planning and project development study for the Gainesville-Haymarket Extension. The $295 million project is not currently funded in the region's fiscally constrained Long Range Transportation Plan. For more information, see the VRE System Plan.
|Financial Close||July 2017|
|Design Public Hearing||Fall 2017|
|Begin Construction||Fall 2017|
|Right of Way
|Begin Tolling||July 2022|
|Project Completion||August 2022|