Some northern Virginia commuters can expect smoother rush hours along Interstate 66.
A new two-mile auxiliary lane opened Monday night between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street in Arlington County, Va., on westbound I-66. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, this is the first of three traffic-reducing initiatives and is specifically intended to decrease the congestion and increase safety on westbound I-66 westbound.
“Sixty-six westbound is congested throughout every rush hour and weekends and even though this [auxiliary lane] is a two-mile stretch, it should make a significant difference in day-to-day commutes, VDOT spokesperson Joan Morris said. “Once we get the second and third spot improvements completed, westbound 66 will move much more smoothly.”
The westbound acceleration and deceleration lane between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street had been lengthened to form a continuous auxiliary lane between the two ramps. The 18-month improvement cost $14 million and included a new 12-foot-wide shoulder capable of carrying traffic during emergency situations because it was constructed with full-strength pavement.
Another two planned improvements, one from Haycock Road to Westmoreland Street and another from Lee Highway to Glebe Road, are not part of this contract. Those two future contracts are estimated to cost about $49.6 million and will reduce congestion and travel times during peak periods. They will also increase safety by lengthening merge areas and reducing the risk of stop-and-go accidents.
“Our Administration is focused on helping Virginians spend more time at work and with their families, and less time stuck in traffic,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said. “This spot improvement is another step forward in that effort. When it opens this evening, all motorists heading west out of Arlington will find a slightly smoother commute and hopefully gain a little more time off the road. Through improvements like this one we are continuing to make progress in getting traffic moving again in the commonwealth.”