ARLINGTON, Va. — A lane from the Fairfax Drive ramp at EXIT 67 is being extended along Interstate 66 westbound all the way to EXIT 69, Sycamore Street. This “spot improvement” (Virginia Department of Transportation) is less ambitious than I had hoped for and I am curious if it will provide much relief after it opens next week.
Since January, my morning commute has been between Ballston and Tysons Corner. I typically took I-66 west out of Ballston, dealing with the Fairfax Drive ramp merge until I got sick of it and started going a different way. When I commuted between Pentagon City and Tysons Corner (2001-2007) I concluded that traffic flow could be improved by extending the Fairfax Drive ramp lane all the way to EXIT 67, the Dulles corridor exit, plus a similar plan for the other direction:
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.
The spot improvement may help, but it is just that, a spot improvement. Extending the Fairfax Drive ramp lane all the way to EXIT 67 might eliminate a great deal or merging since many drivers getting on I-66 at Ballston also get off for the Dulles Toll Road. They could just stay in their lane.
Also, VDOT appears to have re-used some old sign gantries that were on the Dulles Access Road inside the Beltway. This keeps with the brown/rust aesthetic that I-66 was built with originally. Even the backs of the big green signs are painted brown.