Interstate 66 project crews are rerouting more traffic along the corridor this year with future milestones — and easier commuting — in sight.
Virginia Department of Transportation and construction officials shared updates on the progress of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project at virtual community meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 29 and 30). Express lanes in the multibillion-dollar project are slated to open in December 2022.
The added express lanes will involve tolls for solo drivers and be free for vehicles with three or more people. Other changes coming with the project include adding express ramp connections at interchanges and improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, including a newly created I-66 Trail along the corridor.
“Every day, things are changing,” VDOT megaprojects director Susan Shaw said during the presentation on Wednesday, which focused on the area from Jermantown Road in Fairfax to I-495 in Dunn Loring. “There’s a lot of work that’s going on out there, about $60 million worth of work per month…That’s a lot of changes, and it means changes for drivers.”
She reminded community members that it is now illegal for drivers to utilize a handheld device while operating their vehicle, thanks to a new law passed in 2020 that became effective Jan. 1.
“We just ask that you really be alert when you’re driving the corridor, that you pay attention to all the signage,” she said.
Project officials reported the following timelines for improvements to I-66 interchanges:
Gallows Road Bridge
- Mid-July: A traffic shift will occur
- August: The new northbound bridge opens with traffic shifting there. The old bridge will begin to be demolished overnight, and construction of the new southbound bridge will start.
- December: Work related to tying in a school driveway will occur over winter break
Nutley Street Interchange
- Permanent ramps and retaining walls are being constructed this summer
Vaden Drive Bridge
- Express lane ramps are being constructed and slated to be complete by early fall.
- A sidewalk on the west side of the bridge is scheduled to open in early fall. It runs from Saintsbury Drive to Country Creek Road.
Chain Bridge Road (Route 123)
- Southbound Route 123 traffic will shift to the new bridge in late fall.
- Permanent Route 123 ramps to I-66 will open later this year. Northbound Route 123 changes are slated for late July and the summer, and southbound ramp openings are on schedule for this fall.
- Roadwork on Route 123 north and south of the interchange will take place in early 2022.
- Pedestrian access, which didn’t exist before, will be available after the project is completed.
- Construction will take place in early July of sidewalk north and south of the bridge on the west side of the road.
- Lanes are being shifted to new bridges. Route 50 westbound traffic switched to the new overpass on Sunday (June 27), and eastbound traffic will take over the new structure on or about July 10.
The I-66 Trail, the new shared-use path being added along the interstate, could be opened in phases, but it depends on whether it’s safe to do so, Shaw said. She said they’re not committed to anything prior to the anticipated completion of the project in mid-2023.
“Our…top priority is to make sure that…the shared use path is safe and that it’s safe while we’re completing this project,” she said.
Meanwhile, noise walls are going up in various locations along I-66, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays in some materials, including steel posts and panel production, said Nancy Smith, public relations director with FAM Construction, the design-builder for the project.
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