I-66 widening a hot button issue

I drive Interstate 66 inside the Beltway daily, reverse commuting out to Tysons from Pentagon City. Jerry Kilgore, Republican gubentorial 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 comprimises (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.

3 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 4th, 2005 @ 8:40 am

    What I’d really love to see is, in addition to what you’ve described, two to four more Metro stations built on the Orange line, with the Orange line going to eight car trains upon completion…

  2. Evil (unregistered) on November 4th, 2005 @ 9:40 am

    Kilgore’s plan is a joke. He says he wants to give more control to local communities and then decidedly demands that I-66 be widened right through a local community. So, he’s all for local control, except when he’s not– which is when he can score cheap political points. Which is all this is anyway.

    I commute 66 every day and extra lanes won’t do a damn thing to stop the traffic. It will be a terribly expensive extravagence for very little effect. It would be much better (aside from reigning in development that has people live in bumblefuck and work in the city) to encourage policies that get cars off the road through public transport, telecommuting and incentives for flex time. If you drive 66 after 7:30, there’s no problems at all. The road’s only inadequate when it’s employed to do a job it’s totally unsuited for.

    How about plowing those billions back into extending the metro out further and getting more park and ride lots so people can actually use the metro. Or better yet, focus on when 66 really matters, in the next terrorist attack. Find a way to Eastbound so people can get out of dodge pretty damn quick.

  3. Ben Stanfield (unregistered) on November 4th, 2005 @ 5:13 pm

    Don T. Wyden for attorney G!

    You missed the best character in the widen/don’t widen debate. Don T. Wyden is running for Attorney General, and he’s even been seen handing out campaign literature at metro stops in the area. Check out Goodbyejim.com for more of his antics.

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