Beltway to Ballston Gets a Third Lane

by Dan Lesniak

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced a compromised plan for Eastbound I-66 which will now be widened to three lanes, in addition to the planned tolling to be put in place during rush-hour traffic. The Beltway to Ballston has been long under opposing plans by different groups in and around Arlington. For many living along the Orange Line and outside of Arlington, the new plan for I-66 marks a meeting in compromise to keep the freeway from being expanded beyond the already existing structure and the need to provide multimodal transportation options to area residents.

Through lengthy discussion and review of the current state of I-66, both sides will get some of what they want. The planned widening of the freeway will use the existing right-of-way between the Dulles Connector Road and the Fairfax Drive/Glebe Road exit. The beltway will also include High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes during rush-hour traffic. The new toll lanes will be in place sometime in 2017, while the new lane will be added in 2020, costing upwards of $140 million.

The new plan for I-66 will retain some elements already in place in regards to the toll revenue that is anticipated once the HOT lanes open. Most notably the revenue will still be dedicated to multimodal improvements with local governments retaining the ability to spend the funds on local projects. Before the widening project can begin, there will be environmental analyses done which will also explore other possible improvements that may be done alongside the widening. The goal of the Beltway to Ballston changes is to improve the commute time for area residents. With strong feelings on both sides of the plan, by providing both an additional lane and the HOT lanes, it is hoped that everyone can benefit from these improvements.

Some of the projected results to improve this high-traffic area of Arlington include a reduction of person hour delays by as much as 26,000 hours. At the same time an additional 40,000 plus people will be riding through the beltway daily. Traffic speeds of at least 45 mph will be able to be retained during rush hours, and there will be more travel options for everyone. When government and communities can work together, everyone wins.

These new changes coming to the Beltway to Ballston will help set the road to better days for Arlington. When you are ready to buy or sell your home, myself and the Orange Line Living team, are here to provide you with our unique and specialized services, so you can turn your dreams into reality. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us directly at 571-969-7653 or at [email protected]


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