WESTERN SECTION OF NEW I-66 EXPRESS LANES SCHEDULED TO OPEN THIS WEEKEND, SEPT. 10-11
New lanes to open toll-free during initial period to allow travelers time to become familiar with express lanes and new access points
FAIRFAX – September 8, 2022 – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and I-66 Express Mobility Partners (EMP), the Commonwealth’s private partner and operator of the new 66 Express Lanes, announced today that the western section of new 66 Express Lanes is on schedule to open this weekend, as early as Saturday. Initially, this nine-mile segment from Route 29 in Gainesville to Route 28 in Centreville will be open to all traffic toll-free, so that motorists can benefit from the additional capacity, become familiar with the new express lanes and access points, and open an E-ZPass account, if needed. After the initial opening period, tolling and HOV rules are anticipated to be in place by the end of the month, with information displayed on roadway signs.
Drivers will be able to access the western section 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.
Once tolling and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) rules begin on the newly opened section of 66 Express Lanes, motorists can choose to use the lanes by paying a toll with an E-ZPass or online at Ride66Express.com. Eligible HOVs can travel the lanes for free with an E-ZPass Flex set to “carpool mode.” Until the full 66 Express Lanes corridor opens in December, vehicles must have two or more occupants to qualify as HOV, and may include carpools, vanpools and commuter buses. These 66 Express Lanes rules will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tolls for the 66 Express Lanes will be based on traffic volumes and speed, in order to manage demand for the lanes and keep traffic moving. Drivers will see their individual toll price on electronic signs in advance of choosing to enter the lanes. Passenger vehicles such as cars, SUVs, most vans and pickup trucks will pay the same toll rate. Large and extra-large trucks will pay a higher rate to use the 66 Express Lanes.
What drivers should expect starting today (Thursday, Sept. 8)
- To unveil overhead signs and complete final preparations for opening the western portion of 66 Express Lanes, crews will close the four new express lanes (two lanes in each direction) located in the center portion of the roadway, to the left of the flex posts.
- Three general purpose lanes will remain open in each direction of I-66.
- As early as Saturday, Sept.10, the nine-mile section of new 66 Express Lanes between Route 29 in Gainesville and Route 28 in Centreville will open.
- Initially, all motorists can use the 66 Express Lanes for free to get familiar with the new capacity and entry and exits points.
- Drivers are urged to use caution when traveling the new nine-mile portion of express lanes including the new entry and exit points.
I-66 travelers can get and install an E-ZPass in their vehicles to pay their tolls once tolling on the 66 Express Lanes begins. Travelers who plan to carpool will need an E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode to travel toll-free. More information on where to get an E-ZPass can be found at ezpassva.com or by calling 877-762-7824. Information on other toll payment methods for the 66 Express Lanes can be found at Ride66Express.com.
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 I-66 construction activities.
About the Project
The Transform 66 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 Fairfax County Connector and Potomac & Rappahannock Transportation Commission Omniride, safety and operational improvements at key interchanges, auxiliary lanes between interchanges, and bicycle and pedestrian paths and connections. The Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project will deliver about $3.7 billion worth of transportation improvements benefitting northern Virginia’s I-66 corridor, financed by I-66 Express Mobility Partners, a consortium of private developers Cintra, Meridiam and APG.
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 in Haymarket and Route 29 in Rosslyn – including I-66 Express Lanes located inside and outside the Beltway.