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Virginia Proposes Adding Express Lanes To I-66

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Changes may be coming to I-66.
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Changes may be coming to I-66.

If Interstate 66 is a commuting nightmare, Virginia dreams of offering you a faster ride for a price.

The highway would be widened to five lanes in each direction from the Beltway to Haymarket, under plans unveiled by the Virginia Department of Transportation to fix one of the region's most congested commuting corridors.

Three lanes would be open to all traffic; two lanes would be tolled, unless you are HOV-3. This plan is in line with what the state has done on 495 and 95: build new capacity but charge drivers to use it, unless they are carpooling.

"The tolling should be to compensate the risk and the amount of capital put in to support the additional capacity," says Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne.

The private sector would bear the risk and the capital, and 66 would be the third highway project in Northern Virginia where the toll revenue goes to the private firm hired to finance and build it, like the 495 and 95 Express Lanes.

"There is no way, and I don't [think] Virginia is by any stretch out of the ordinary, that all the projects - these multi-billion dollar projects - can be built without looking at alternative financing sources," says Layne.

Construction could begin in 2017 once a private partner is secured. The project could cost $2 to $3 billion, but officials say it won't be just for cars. They plan to add plenty of express bus service to 66 to connect thousands to their jobs.

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