WESTERN SECTION OF NEW I-66 EXPRESS LANES PLANNED TO OPEN AHEAD OF SCHEDULE ON OR ABOUT THE WEEKEND OF SEPT. 10
Nine-mile section spans from Route 29 in Gainesville to Route 28 in Centreville; First phase of 66 Express Lanes to provide early travel improvements to I-66 travelers
FAIRFAX – September 2, 2022 – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Commonwealth’s private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners (EMP), and the design-build contractor, FAM Construction, announced plans today to open the western-most segment of the new 66 Express Lanes during the weekend of September 10. The exact opening date will be announced in the coming days, as crews work to complete weather-dependent final preparations.
The nine-mile western stretch of 66 Express Lanes spans from Route 29 in Gainesville to Route 28 in Centreville, and features multiple new ramps providing direct access to and from the express lanes. The remaining 13 miles of new express lanes along I-66 between Route 28 and I-495 (the Capital Beltway) are scheduled to open in December 2022.
“We are pleased to join our 66 Express Lanes project partners in opening the first segment of one of Virginia’s largest megaprojects ahead of schedule,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “By opening the western segment of the new 66 Express Lanes early, we are able to start delivering congestion relief to I-66 travelers sooner than originally planned.”
“We are excited to open this first section of the 66 Express Lanes Outside the Beltway, so that we can begin providing improved and more reliable travel for I-66 drivers,” commented Javier Gutierrez, chief executive officer for I-66 Express Mobility Partners. “This is an important step in opening the new 66 Express Lanes, allowing customers to begin to experience the benefits that the new managed lanes and project enhancements will provide, and helping to ensure a great customer experience when the full corridor opens at the end of the year.”
Drivers will be able to access the western end of the 66 Express Lanes through a variety of entrance and exit points. Drivers traveling eastbound on I-66 will be able to merge onto the Express Lanes from the general-purpose lanes prior to Route 29 in Gainesville and by using a slip ramp prior to Route 234 Business. Drivers traveling westbound on I-66 will be able to access the Express Lanes from the general-purpose lanes prior to Route 28.
Drivers will also have direct access from new dedicated ramps at Route 234/Sudley Road, Route 28, and Braddock and Walney Roads, as well as convenient access from two new commuter parking lots at University Boulevard (Gainesville) and Century Park Drive (Manassas), which were built as part of the overall “Transform 66 Outside the Beltway” project.
Eligible high occupancy vehicles (HOV) with an E-ZPass Flex set to “carpool mode” can travel the 66 Express Lanes toll free. Express Lanes will be available for motorists who choose to pay a toll, using either E-ZPass or by paying online at Ride66Express.com. During this initial opening phase of the western segment, vehicles must have two or more occupants to qualify as HOV, and may include carpools, vanpools and commuter buses. Additional information on how to use the 66 Express Lanes can be found at Ride66Express.com.
Pablo Molla, chief executive officer for FAM Construction, added, “We are proud to begin delivering improved travel conditions to the hundreds of thousands of I-66 travelers who have had to contend with major roadway construction on a daily basis for the last five years.” Molla continued, “To date, our crews have logged more than 11 million work hours on this critical project and maintained a safety incident rate lower than the national average.”
While the western section of the 66 Express Lanes will be open, construction will continue throughout the project corridor. Activities will include major paving operations and shifting lanes into final alignments, as well as work on interchanges, bridges and ramps. Following the anticipated December opening of the remaining 66 Express Lanes, final construction elements will continue and are scheduled to be completed in mid-2023.
Visit Transform66.org to stay informed about the I-66 construction activities.
About the Project:
The Transform I-66 Express Lanes Outside the Beltway project provides 22.5 miles of new express lanes (two lanes in each direction alongside three regular lanes), with dedicated express lane access ramps, and median space reserved for future transit. In addition, the project will provide approximately 4,000 park and ride spaces, new and expanded commuter bus service on the Fairfax County Connector and Potomac & Rappahannock Transportation Commission Omniride buses, safety and operational improvements at key interchanges, auxiliary lanes between interchanges, and bicycle and pedestrian paths and connections.
When the remaining portion of the 66 Express Lanes opens later this year, drivers will need to have three or more occupants to qualify as an HOV and travel the express lanes for free. This change from HOV-2+ to HOV-3+ will apply across the entire I-66 corridor between Route 15/Haymarket and Washington, D.C. – including I-66 Express Lanes located inside and outside the Beltway.
The I-66 Outside the Beltway project will deliver about $3.7 billion worth of transportation improvements benefitting northern Virginia’s I-66 corridor.