In Virginia, no road project gets built without the blessing of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. The board is made up of 18 members, and it decides which projects are funded across the state. Now, you can add the toll lanes on I-66 outside the Beltway to the list: That plan is now one crucial step closer to final approval.
"Which brings us one step closer to receiving the final federal clearance to moving forward with this project, and we anticipate that will come in the next few months," says Nick Donohue, deputy secretary of transportation in Virginia. He says construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.
"This is one of the key state actions that was necessary to complete the federal environmental process, which is necessary for us to use federal funds for construction," Donohue says.
I-66 between the Beltway and Haymarket will be expanded to five lanes in each direction: three regular lanes and two express toll lanes where HOV-3 carpoolers would ride free. Even though the federal environmental approvals are expected in a couple of months, the new highway's final design remains a work in progress — and that's important to residents like Deanna Heier in Dunn Loring, where five homeowners could be displaced and others could lose property.
"They did not consider the environmental and community impact when this design first came out in January," Heier says. The final design will be ready in a year — "and then we will find out our fate at that point."
Along the entire 25-mile corridor, a total of 11 homes could be condemned with more than 160 other partial land takings, including a lot of backyards. The project has also become a political issue, with candidates running for the General Assembly railing against the tolls.