I-66 widening a hot button issue

VIRGINIA I-66I drive Interstate 66 inside the Beltway daily, reverse commuting out to Tysons from Pentagon City. Jerry Kilgore, Republican gubernatorial candidate, is making I-66 widening a major part of his Northern Virginia strategy. This week, Kilgore for governor signs with “WIDEN I-66 Inside the Beltway” on them debuted along the shoulder of the EXIT 67 ramp.

Kilgore has a point and it probably resonates with Fairfax and Loudoun voters, but Arlington, a county he has no hope of winning votes from, will fight any widening. Opposition in the 1970s nearly killed the project and only after significant compromises (HOV, no trucks) was it able to get built. For an excellent history of I-66 and the Orange line, visit Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future .

My solution is to add lane between exits 67 and 71 in each direction, rather than all the way to/from Rosslyn. Experience from my daily commute on the road suggests that the backups occur in large part due to the lane drops after the Dulles Access Road (eastbound) and Fairfax Drive (westbound) on-ramps. If VDOT just extended those merge lanes into travel lanes, merging would significantly be reduced and traffic would probably flow a little better. Heading eastbound, have the new lane become the EXIT 71 off ramp to Ballston. In the westbound direction, the new lane would split as part of the EXIT 67 ramp.

I am not crazy about adding a lane all the way from Rosslyn westward since that would not eliminate the merge at Fairfax Drive. In fact, I think it could make that merge worse. I think my solution may have a better chance politically, since VDOT can probably show a lot of traffic that gets on at Fairfax Drive and gets off at Dulles Access Road and vice-versa. That being said, I still do not tink it has much chance politically and I expect I-66 inside the Beltway will never get widened.

Retconned from Metroblogging DC

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