CELEBRATING A YEAR OF GAME-CHANGING
TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE ALONG THE I-66 CORRIDOR
Twelve Months Into Operations, the Privately Financed 66 Express Outside the Beltway Project
Is Delivering Time Savings, Multi-Modal Improvements, Economic Impact to Northern Virginia
Manassas, Va. November 29, 2023 – As the 66 Express Outside the Beltway marks its first full year of operations today, the transformative and increasingly popular managed-lane mega-project has shown itself to be a game-changer for the Northern Virginia region – for transportation choice, for economic development, for quality of life, and for how major infrastructure gets built.
In addition to driving an estimated $4.9 billion in local economic impact for the seven-year period from 2016 to 2022, the project has been a boon to the region’s workforce, producing 26,300 full-time equivalent job-years through 2022.
That workforce has forged an entire ecosystem of new, vital transportation improvements throughout the I-66 corridor, featuring two park-and-ride lots with more than 4,000 spaces, 63 new or reconstructed bridges, 12 rebuilt or improved interchanges, numerous safety enhancements, and more than 18 miles of new pedestrian and bike trails along the I-66 corridor, including the new 66 Parallel Trail, a shared-use hiking and biking path running 11 miles along I-66 in Fairfax County.
Owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and financed with more than $4 billion in private investment by I-66 Express Mobility Partners (I-66 EMP), a consortium of global infrastructure companies Cintra, Meridiam, and APG, the 66 Express Outside the Beltway ranks among the largest public/private partnership (P3) infrastructure projects constructed in the United States this century and has created a model of best practices for future infrastructure investments.
“Offering a safe, reliable, valuable travel option to the citizens of the Commonwealth has always been the primary goal of this unique P3 project,” said Alberto González, CEO of Cintra US. “One year into service, we believe the 66 Express Outside the Beltway has been very successful delivering that value. We look forward to providing commuters and businesses with dependable, predictable transportation far into the future.”
Since all 22.5 miles of the 66 Express Outside the Beltway officially opened ahead of schedule at a ribbon-cutting ceremony keynoted by Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Nov. 29, 2022, more than 370,000 unique vehicles have passed through the facility’s electronic toll gantries. The express lanes have attracted regular month-over-month increases in usage, and now accommodate more than one million total trips each month.
Drivers who choose the 66 Express are realizing one of the lanes’ most game-changing benefits: Time savings. Prior to construction of the 66 Express, it took an average of about 60 minutes to travel eastbound from Gainesville to I-495 during peak hours, and about 50 minutes westbound. The additional capacity of the 66 Express has cut those commutes nearly in half on the general-purpose lanes, with the express lanes saving drivers another 10 minutes per trip. The result has been a 36% reduction in peak-hour travel times compared to before construction.
Furthermore, the 66 Express offers an array of travel options to benefit commuters of all kinds. Toll-free trips are available to mass transit agencies, private motorcycles, school buses on their routes, and non-commercial vehicles qualified as HOV3+ by carrying at least three people and having an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV-On mode. Those who commute by bicycle take advantage of a growing network of shared-use paths connecting trail systems throughout Fairfax and Prince William counties, funded by I-66 EMP’s concession-fee payment to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Built to keep business moving, the lanes also welcome a wide range of commercial vehicles, including contractor vans and 18-wheelers, in addition to commuters and travelers. And to keep all drivers moving, the 66 Express operates its own fleet of incident response vehicles and offers free roadside assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It’s important for a project of this magnitude to properly leverage assets and investments in order to create game-changing infrastructure,” said Luis Vázquez, CEO of I-66 EMP. “Looking back on our first year, we’re extremely pleased with the success of the entire project. This multi-modal transportation option has always been about moving more people and business faster and safer along the I-66 corridor. That’s exactly what these express lanes have delivered over the past year, and we look forward to serving this region as a reliable travel choice for decades to come.”
Exceeding $4 billion, I-66 EMP’s private investment has been leveraged to continue expanding the corridor’s growing ecosystem of transportation improvements. That investment includes more than $2.3 billion in design and construction costs to fully reconstruct the I-66 corridor west of I-495 Capital Beltway, $800 million in mass transit subsidies paid over the 50-year term of the P3 contract supporting enhanced transit options in the corridor, $350 million in future transportation network improvements benefiting the I-66 corridor, and an up-front concession-fee payment of $579 million paid in 2017 to fund approved local road, bridge, interchange, transit, and shared-use path improvement projects. The widening of Devlin Rd. in Prince William County and the construction of a walking path between Nutley St. and Vaden Dr. on Route 29 in Fairfax County are among the lineup of improvement projects funded by I-66 EMP’s concession fee.
The transportation infrastructure industry has taken notice of the game-changing features of the 66 Express Outside the Beltway. In July, the project was named the 2023 P3 Project of the Year in the Innovation of the Year category by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), the nation’s oldest transportation-related construction group. That honor was followed in October by the 2023 P3 Award as the Best Road, Bridge, or Tunnel Project.
“With all the multi-modal improvements this project brings to the roadway and beyond, the 66 Express Outside the Beltway is already a landmark of critical public mobility infrastructure,” said Nicolas Rubio, CEO of North America at Meridiam Infrastructure. “This project provides a more reliable travel option that reduces congestion and elevates quality of life for everyone who uses the I-66 corridor. It will deliver positive impacts in the region for the long term.”
Integrating the 66 Express into the wider community remains core to the mission of I-66 EMP. Over the past year, the roadway operator has established or strengthened relationships with nonprofit organizations such as Boxes of Basics, Food for Others, Willing Warriors, Northern Virginia Family Service, the Fairfax County Park Foundation, Educate Fairfax, and SPARK, the educational foundation for Prince William County Public Schools, providing in-kind and monetary donations as well as volunteering time for food drives, clothing drives, and outdoor cleanups.
To commemorate the roadway’s first full year of service, the 66 Express Outside the Beltway produced a special video highlighting the project’s most valuable benefits and game-changing features.
About the 66 Express Outside the Beltway:
Part of VDOT’s Transform 66 Outside the Beltway program, the lanes of the 66 Express are a transformative 22.5-mile multi-modal mega-project featuring advanced dynamic-tolling systems to keep traffic flowing at all times. The lanes provide Northern Virginia commuters, businesses, and mass transit with a reliable option to move people, goods, and services throughout the I-66 corridor, allowing drivers to Sit Less, Live More. Visit www.Ride66Express.com to learn more, and keep up with the 66 Express on Facebook and Twitter.
About I-66 Express Mobility Partners:
I-66 Express Mobility Partners (EMP) is a consortium of leading infrastructure companies including Cintra, Meridiam, and APG. In public-private partnership (P3) with VDOT, I-66 EMP is contracted to operate the 66 Express Outside the Beltway through 2066. Connect with I-66 EMP on LinkedIn.
I-66 Express Mobility Partners:
Nancy H. Smith, Corporate Affairs Director