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Group Renews Call for Widening of I-66

by ARLnow.com October 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm 7,229 173 Comments

(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, a persistent critic of Arlington County, is renewing its call for additional lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway.

The Alliance points to the nearly-complete I-66 “spot improvement” — which added a third westbound lane between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street in Arlington — as evidence that the county’s stated opposition to widening I-66 is misguided.

“Drive I-66 westbound past Ballston,” the Alliance said in a recent email. “Look to your right. Behold, a new 12-foot lane! Look again. What do you see? Same sound walls. Same trees. Same houses. Same bike path. The sky didn’t fall; the earth remains on its axis.”

“What is different is that soon a major regional bottleneck will be reduced along with travel times of tens of thousands of daily morning work trips, home commutes and weekend trips of all kinds,” the email continued, calling the improvement “a baby step.”

The Alliance says that VDOT should now work to add a third lane in both directions on I-66 from Spout Run to the Dulles Toll Road. Such a move would surely draw opposition from Arlington, which tends to support transit-oriented transportation policies that discourage car use and traffic congestion. Still, the Alliance says the state should push forward despite possible “obstructionism” from Arlington.

“Our region continues to rank #1 in congestion, not for lack of regional solutions, but because localities too often oppose them and the state too often defers to localities,” the group said.

VDOT recently kicked off a study of “multimodal and corridor management solutions (operational, transit, bike, pedestrian, and highway) that can be implemented to reduce highway and transit congestion and improve overall mobility within the I-66 corridor, between I-495 and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.”

  • Aaron

    Yes, please.

    • Thes

      If only I-66 were wider, we could have this in the middle of Arlington, instead of what we have now.

      • If only 395 hadn’t been widened or improved since this photo were taken. Just imagine what it would be like today. Right…we don’t need it.

        • LVGuy

          Actually I think that’d be a lot better than what we have now. 10 Lanes of crap.

          • 10 lanes of crap for 10 times the population that existed then.

          • drax

            But that’s FALSE.

            Our road-building in this region has more or less kept up with population growth. The problem is that each person drives alot more miles than they did a few decades ago – because they live further out, and because they don’t have any other choices. And that’s what you get when you create car-dependent suburbs, even more driving and even more congestion.

          • Well, I’ve been in Arlington for 40 years. There are more cars here now too that are not related to the growth of the burbs. It all has to do with the growth of the population and an inadequate transportation system to handle it. Planes, trains, or automobiles. 🙂

        • R.Griffon

          Actually, I think the 395 analogy is perfect. That is, a perfect example of why NOT to expand. Here we have that massive monstrosity of lanes, built at no small cost, and has it solved the traffic problems? Not at all. 395 is a nightmare, and 66 would continue to be so no matter how big you make it.

          The commute should be kept painful so that people think twice about taking a job 20 miles from their home, or conversely buying a place 20 miles from where they work. Business owners should think twice before setting up shop in the middle of a congested mess, and should instead opt for points outside the beltway.

          Increased capacity isn’t the way out of this, as you’ll never outstrip demand in a “jobs in the center, homes around the outside” model. It just doesn’t work. The only solution is smart building, with areas where people can live, work, and be entertained all in the same locality.

          • How idiotic. In fact, let’s have kept the W&OD crossing on I395 as well. No bike trail. Keep the train line and stop traffic on the two lane I395 in 2011. Sir, you have the stupid statement of the day.

        • drax

          Build a new road or widen it, and you just create more problems down the road, literally. When are we going to learn?

      • charlie

        Thes, just to disagree with you for fun —
        66 in Arlington was supposed to be six thru lanes in EACH direction. Your picture shows only five.

    • OX4

      Yes, I agree. We should build wider roads to fix our congestion problems. Because that solution has worked so well for the last 50 years. And because Arlington County is a famous example of well-executed urban planning because it loves to build enormous highways.

      • When your county is only a few miles wide, and you have a public transportation infrastructure (as mediocre as it is), and you boarder a major employer (the United States), then many of your residents don’t need a highway. Then there is everybody else.

  • State Goons

    We gonna BREAK that promise to Arlington. Just BREAK that sucka. And if we happy to willy-nilly BREAK a promise to a whole county, you don’t think we won’t break promises to individual citizens, too?

  • Patrick

    Arlington has stood in the way of progress for too long. Widen 66 now!!

    • Josh S

      Progress! The glorious Progress! All sing praises to Progress!

      Uh, but, um, what does that mean? Progress? Who owns that word? Who gets to say what is progress? Patrick? The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance?

      • JR

        As a leader in smart growth innovation, as a community that has effectively added density around transit, without significantly increasing traffic, Arlington and all Arlingtonians should be pretty tired of Bob Chase and his suburban real estate backers telling us what to do. Fairfax failed to develop around metro as we did, and now they want us to decrease our quality of life for their planning mistakes. Look at how they are now trying, after the fact, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to turn the disaster that is Tysons Corner into a walkable livable community?

        We could solve the traffic problem on I-66 more reliably by raising HOV (as the original agreement contemplated) and by adding additional commuter buses, or metrorail capacity. But a couple miles of additional lanes in Arlington makes no sense and will have no discernible impact on traffic. Don’t believe me? Look at VDOT’s own studies.

        A new inbound lane will be a disaster as folks enter the bottleneck in Rosslyn. Extension of the outbound lanes is a non-starter, beyond what has already been approved, because it would require widening the bridges and intruding beyond VDOT’s right of way. Chase is being incredibly disingenuous here — the sky did not fall (and neither did it get bluer) because the agreement Gov. Kaine made with VDOT allowed for lane extensions WITHIN the VDOT right of way. That can’t happen the length of the road from Rosslyn to Ballston. The right of way doesn’t exist.

        Funny how Bob left that out.

        • Burger

          Let’s go through your paragraphs and point out the inconsistencies.

          “developing around the metro” and Tyson’s corner – is there a metro stop out there I missed.

          Where are you going to add metorrail capacity. They already run close to peak now.

          As anyone with half a brain will tell you that aiding the congestion in the DC area is going to take an array of different transportation options. That includes rail and bus, but guess, what that also means expansion of highways. The doubling of the DC population in the next 20 years isn’t going to mean road usage is going to go down.

        • Carol_R

          HOV should never have been lowered to 2 people. Heck just increase it to 4 people and traffic won’t be that congested on Rt 66.

    • Barbara

      Patrick: I agree that Arlington, particularly C. Zimmerman, has “stood in the way of progress for too long.” For example, the nightmare scenario at the N. Fairfax Dr. westbound entrance to 66 is years overdue for major surgery. It was an obvious joke from the start. How it passed muster from the beginning, how it was obviously considered good enough, so to speak, is baffling—and I was here in Arlington to see it and use it back then.
      I have lived within walking distance of this utterly inadequate entrance ramp since 1986. Population growth has occurred everywhere, all over this country. It has nothing to do with adding lanes to a highway.

      • Josh S

        So the freeway has been inadequate for almost 30 years? Traffic was slow getting on there at Fairfax 30 years ago? If that’s so, how come it’s not ten times worse now given the increase in population? You mean Arlington has grown so much but traffic hasn’t actually grown as fast? Might that be because of the WAY that Arlington has grown? Meaning with density and transit?

  • Smithers

    Lanes aren’t even open yet, and they are a success? Isn’t the bottleneck just going to be moved up 1.5 miles to the Sycamore St. exit?

    • Josh S

      Roger that.

      You can just as easily turn their mocking use of “The sky didn’t fall; the earth remains on its axis.” around and say after the lanes are open “Water wasn’t turned to wine, a glorious era of peace and prosperity did not appear in Arlington County.”

      Let’s just wait until the interminable construction is over, the money has been spent to a tune of double or triple whatever the original budget was and then count the cars and average travel times through this section. We’ll have to have a yardstick to measure improvement. How about 20% faster times? For a period of 5 years? Think the project can meet those benchmarks? I don’t.

    • Burger

      One of the big issues with that congestion is simple physics. It is a turn but there is also a slight elevation rise. Most people do not see it so they do not increase their speed to compensate for the difference. Hence, the congestion.

      Yes, it should help because a new lane comes on line at Sycamore.

    • charlie

      well sure. their “success” is that the lane got built.
      not that it works. or doesn’t work.
      success to them is just paving more of Arlington.

  • “The sky didn’t fall; the earth remains on its axis.”

    I love it.

  • JMB

    “What is different is that soon a major regional bottleneck will be reduced along with travel times of tens of thousands of daily morning work trips, home commutes and weekend trips of all kinds”

    Sounds like we’re done, then. Why keep widening?

    • Lou

      Nope. Still need to widen the inbound side.

      • JR

        Because merging 3-lanes to two at the Roosevelt Bridge is sooooo much better than merging two? Come on! Bob Chase is a one-trick pony. Widening hasn’t worked yet and won’t work.

        • Lou

          You have people exiting at Lee Highway or Fairfax as well. Not everyone goes all the way into DC.

        • Did it work on I395?

          • JR

            or I-270?

    • John

      It’s a vicious cycle. The perceived need to widen roads over and over will not disappear. In Atlanta, one interstate will be 20 lanes wide after another widening project.

      I-66 was originally planned as an 8 lane freeway, with connections to a freeway that would cross the proposed three sisters bridge. There were other connecting freeways as well: Donaldson Run would also have been home to a freeway where the bucolic stream is today. Another connecting freeway would have branched off of Glebe Road, which explains the strange interchange at the Military Road intersection. And a freeway would have run the length of Four Mile Run. North Arlington would have had the convenience of a freeway near every home.

      • Josh S

        You mean raging torrent. No freeway could have stood up to such deluges and epic flooding as are experienced along Donaldson Run.

      • Then have Arlington stop building high rise apartments where a portion of those commuters drive west on I66 to get to Tysons. Oh….yeah….unwilling.

      • DarkHeart

        Chain Bridge would have connected to 66 via N. Glebe/WIlliamsburg?

        Now another N/S minimal ramp road would be good for Arlington, say from Westover Park to 395 via Fo Mile Run.

        • John

          One of the proposed freeways was the Potomac River Freeway (1-266), which would have cut a huge swath through N Arlington and it was proposed as a 10 story double decked freeway. It would have surely survived this summer’s 5.8 earthquake.

          • Josh S

            Double decker freeways throughout California have withstood worse. It’s just a matter of engineering.

  • MC 703

    I’d rather have the option to take a bus from Shirlington to West Falls Church where I can get the Loudoun County Commuter to my job in Ashburn.

    • MC 703

      Which wouldn’t take 2 hours which is what I was going to say

    • charlie

      there now be a bus from Mark Center to W FC Metro. 28A.
      take the 7 to Mark Center then transfer. 45 minute ride.

  • yrb

    screw them
    it would just create more congestion


    • DarkHeart


    • Stu Pendus

      The fallacy of induced demand is that the proof that widening roads reduces congestion is embedded in the theory itself. It is just that the cessation of expansion is what causes the congestion problem to occur again. You know, the region is growing, more housing complexes with units by the hundreds are being approved and developed constantly.

      So clearly the answer given to us by the induced demand research is to not stop expanding the infrastructure. Staying ahead of the curve, for the more catch-phrasey types reading this.

      That is the problem with 66, it has never been upgraded (until very recently).

      I always get a chuckle when people whip out that argument and do not realize what they are proving. It is so knee-jerky.

      • Josh S

        I have no idea what you just were trying to say.

        • Stu Pendus

          I feel sad for you.

          • V Dizzle

            No, I don’t quite follow either. It may simply be a few grammar errors, or you aren’t putting to “paper” what you are thinking. I applaud your passion though.

          • Ted34

            He’s saying that widening the roads does cut congestion but that you have to keep widening them to maintain that reduction. (I speak nerd.)

          • Burger

            Exactly. He is saying that people are still going to build out farther in Virginia regardless if there is roads expanded or not.

            He is also pointing to the fact that if the roads weren’t expanded the conjestion would be worse but for the road.

            It is sort of like Obama arguing that if we didn’t have the stimulus would have been much worse off.
            It is a crappy argument because you will never be able to prove it.

          • Barbara

            I get what he was saying; it was just garbled. And I agree with him!

      • Chad

        Do you “chuckle” while reading the WSJ and sipping a class of after dinner cognac next to your fireplace? Oh, Biff.

      • will k

        Ah, so kicking the can down the road is the best solution? Perhaps your theory means there is “solution” to the traffic problem. As long as people work in DC/Arlington but don’t want to live here, then they will have to deal with traffic.

        • yrb

          Do whatever you want, but don’t externalize your cost of NOT living in Arlington/DC (i.e. having to deal with traffic) onto Arlington/DC residents.

          • Burger

            There alot of people that live in Arlington that get stuck in that traffic so not sure where your point is.

            If you drive over George Mason in the morning and see all the west bound traffic to Tyson’s seems to me there are alot of Arlington/DC people in that traffic.

        • Stu Pendus

          I would not call it kicking the can or deferring. The problem identified by “induced demand” could just as easily be turned around and identified as “restricted supply”. They are one in the same.

          The solution is to have adequate supply.

          Often frustrated Metro riders will wish for a second set of rails, as a quick solution to the Metro congestion problem, particularly with the coming of the Silver Line which will turn the Orange Crush problem into something much worse. Would that induce demand or increase supply? Or would it do both? And will either of our great-grandkids ever live to see two more sets of rails?

          • Josh S

            Stu, perhaps the phenomenon has never been adequately explained to you. Yes, you increase supply and things get better. Temporarily. Then, move people, seeing the extra lanes, make decisions to move their homes or businesses along the highway whereas without the lanes they would have made other decisions, perhaps to rely on transit, perhaps to live elsewhere, etc. So, medium to long term, it’s not a soluition and since highways are expected to last decades, you’ve invested a lot of money in infrastructure that only does what it was supposed to for a short time. What’s the famous quote – the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results? As a society, you can’t just continue to expand roads, build new roads in an attempt to deal with traffic. It won’t work. It would be smarter to pursue more permanent solutions, like building homes, businesses and retail close together or at the very least close to transit hubs. This reduces the need for auto traffic in the first place. It’s just one idea but it’s one more than simply rolling out of bed and proceding to build a new road every day.

            The solution is to have an adequate supply. But I think you have to step back and ask “an adequate supply of what?” It’s not necessarily roads, per se, that people want. What they want is the ability to get comfortably, safely, reliably from one place to another. So how to answer that question? One way would be to think outside the box and say – put everything close together so you can walk. This way happens to work very very well which is one reason the R-B corridor housing market is so incredibly expensive. Was there a housing crash there? Maybe a little, but nothing like places like Woodbridge where they have wide, multi-lane highways but that require miles long trips in your car to get anywhere and that lack virtually any public transportation to speak of. There, the housing markets crashed cause why am I gonna pay an arm and a leg to live in a community that doesn’t really work?

          • Stu Pendus

            Perhaps you should consider that new businesses and housing are already moving in alongside of I-66. In your argument, widening 66 in Arlington might attract more businesses and people to locate themselves nearby. That seems to be your definition of the effects of induced demand, the other shoe dropping so to speak. But the increase in density and development is happening before the lanes are widened.

            In that sense, I see the argument of induced demand not applying hardly at all to this proposed project. It might make the case of induced demand happening in a cornfield in Nebraska quite eloquently. Not so much here.

          • Maybe you need to consider that not everybody want so live in a 20 story stack of shoe boxes. Some people want to have a yard and a home, and there is nothing wrong with that.

          • Josh S

            MY guess is that, all other things being equal, MOST people want a home and a yard. However, other things are not equal. There are competing interests like having a reasonable commute, not spending one’s life in a car, having friends and entertainment options nearby, etc, etc etc. Again, this is why cities have developed and grown over time. For many humans, it is an advantageous way to live. Located in the middle of a 6 million soul metroplex, Arlington is destined to grow and become more dense. There is no way around it. Tilt at windmills all you want.

          • Thes

            Actually, *most* people in the world actually seem to prefer to live in cities.

          • Thes, what would you consider Arlington then? A city? A county? If you consider it “city”, then where in the burbs of the DC Metro area do you draw the line between “city” and “not a city”? The beltway? Do you draw in the burbs?

          • Thes

            What to call Arlington is a pretty existential question. I think it is hard to answer. Formally, of course, it’s a county — but it’s the smallest county in the United States. There are no farms, so it’s not a rural area. And parts of Arlington, with 400-foot tall buildings, are clearly as urban as any place in the world. But there are also a few places in Arlington that are best described as “suburban”. But, for that matter, there are some places in DC that are just as “suburban” and no one tries to call DC a “suburb”.

            But to put it another way, if *all other things being equal* most folks would like a detached house with a yard, all other things are *never* equal. Most (not all) people prefer convenient travel and urban amenities *even more* than they prefer a detached house with a yard, and detached houses with yards actually make that living condition impossible. In other words, how many of those houses could be built in mid-town Manhattan before mid-town wouldn’t be mid-town anymore?

          • NYC is just not Manhattan. It is the five boroughs. While the skyscrapers of Manhattan are certainly “city”, would some of the bungalos in the Bronx be? They are certainly urban. Some might even consider Yonkers to be urban, though it could be suburban. I think the bottom line is any “city” is comprised of the metropolitan area, including the suburbs, because those people add to the economy of the “city”. In the DC metro area I’d make the argument that the “city” portion of VA is Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, parts of Prince William, and parts of Loudoun. In 20 years, all of the later and maybe more. We need to grown as the population grows and not just complain that those people are creating problems for us.

          • Chris Slatt

            I think you’re missing the key takeaway of induced demand. Everyone recognizes that if you widen a road or build a subway line, it increases the supply of available transportation for the area around it. The old thinking was, congestion means demand outstrips supply, if we increase the supply, it will equalize. That’s what would happen in a normal market for instance – if brown flip flops are expensive, it means the demand for brown flip flops is outstripping the supply. Build more brown flip flops and the price will go down.

            What induced demand embodies is that the transportation “market” doesn’t work that way – at least not in an urban area with a high-demand job center like DC. In this area’s transportation “market” if you build more transportation to an area, in addition to increasing the supply of transportation, it also MAKES THAT AREA MORE ATTRACTIVE – aka, it induces additional demand in that area. To go back to my previous analog, it would be as if manufacturing brown flip flops also made them more popular – you could keep building more and more brown flip flop factories and the price would never come down because the very act of their increased supply made them more desirable.

            Incidentally, this is a great market to be in if you’re selling your product at a profit (obviously), but given that no form of transportation in this country covers its own costs, it makes the market a potential never-ending money pit. You just keep building more roads, which induce more demand which means you need more roads. Same with transit – you build more transit which induces more demand which means you need more transit.

            The advantage of mass transit is it carries a whole lot of people in a comparatively tiny amount of land, with a comparatively tiny energy budget and a comparatively tiny carbon footprint.

            There’s a lot more here I could talk about – sprawl, how this intersects with zoning and density decisions, opportunity costs, city efficiency, etc but I’m running out of time and this comment is getting crazy long so I’ll have to leave it at this for now.

          • Edjey

            Most well thought out comment I’ve seen in a long time. My only refinement would be to link the brown flip flops (analog of road and transportation product) with a separate product (the analog of further away housing).

            How about: it would be as if selling brown flip flops also made burger and pizza shops more popular, leading more people to buy brown flip flops to put on to go to the burger and pizza shops.

            Wait . . . maybe that’s EXACTLY WHAT”S HAPPENED!

          • Whatif

            Another way to look at this is to imagine what would the natural living arrangement be if ALL public subsidies (taxes) were taken out of ALL transportation insfrastructure.

          • Josh S

            That is an interesting thought experiment. I think the result would be a nightmare. If the private sector had to build all transportation infrastructure, it obviously would limit its use to make it profitable. In so many ways. Not just tolls. But what about the notion of company roads – only workers can go back and forth from their homes to the factory/office? Or competing roads built next to each other with active efforts to sabotage the other?
            Can we think of any instances in human history where road construction was handled this way? I guess maybe in rural, undeveloped areas, paths spring up where people want to go. But I don’t see how cities and more modern economies could exist without state sponsorship in some way of roads.

          • The Dulles Greenway is a private road. I’ve used it to go to Leesburg and the toll is rather high.

          • Josh S

            Who owns the Dulles Greenway? What money was used to construct it?

      • stevis23

        So, you have to continue paving more and more. What happens when you’ve paved 100% of it? Perhaps a sustainable path could be found instead.

        You need to realize that alt.pave.the.earth is a joke, not a policy prescription.

      • MC

        Induced demand is real: look at I66 in western Fairfax. It wasn’t always that congested. It wasn’t always that wide either.

        • B.

          MC: The population of this entire country has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. It is not unique to Northern Virginia and it is not dependent on more/new roads or lanes.

        • Strange. I find that after Fairfax, where I66 has been widened, the traffic actually improves going west bound.

          • Josh S

            Actually, the widening happens at the beltway and I don’t think you’ll find anyone who suggests that traffic westbound on 66 improves at that point.

    • Chris Slatt

      Seriously. You could widen it to 5 lanes each way and in 10 years time it’d be congested again. Around a high-demand employment center like DC, suburban populations will expand to clog whatever highway space is allotted. We need to focus our transportation dollars on more space-efficient and energy-efficient means of transportation.

      • We need to stop high density around low density roads. High density should only occur around an adequate job and public transportation base. Northern VA does not have that. Hence, roads are needed.

        • brif

          so your solution is lower density around lower density roads? i guess you’ve never been to loudon or prince william counties, traffic there isn’t much better than arlington’s.

          • drax, I have. I don’t see too many high rise apartments and condos there BECAUSE there is no public transportation to support it. Housing developments on country roads are another story, but 10 homes per acre is certainly much better than 200 an aparment would bring.

          • Josh S

            What do you mean, “better?”

        • KalashniKEV

          This is the only sensible comment in this entire thread. You can’t sustain a constantly growing and improving area without continually growing and improving it’s transportation infrastructure.

          This is common sense.

          • brif

            No it’s not common sense because it’s impossible to predict the rate, location, and direction of growth. Even if you could, it takes at least a decade to plan, design, fund and build most transportation infrastructure projects which means growth will always occur faster than improvements.

          • Gee….local government officials do it EVERY YEAR. How do you think they forecast budgets, wastewater infrastructure, etc.? They look 20-years ahead and make a best guess as to tax base, budgets, and where the money should be spent.

          • KalashniKEV

            “it’s impossible to predict the rate, location, and direction of growth.”


            It don’t take a fortune teller, homey.

          • Hood LaRay

            So let’s improve and expand Metro, not I-66.

          • Indeed. How about a ‘burb to ‘burb loop? Most people don’t work in DC anymore.

          • Southeast Jerome

            oh man. Look at what a disaster the tysons line already is (well behind schedule and over-budget) and will be (ridership will surely disappoint).

            Cannot honestly think that the tea partiers would allow govt to spend money on building more metro infrastructure. Even tho right now is the EXACT time to be doing it b/c there are millions of people in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Mississippi and other crappy places where nobody wants to live that have no jobs. They could come here and build us a shiny new metro line that wont be worth the crappy service it provides.

      • B.

        Builders of apt buildings, condos, and townhouses are routinely allowed to build what they want without providing adequate parking for residents and guests. The county (be it Arlington, Fairfax, whatever—but I know Arlington best) does not fund (by whatever means) and insist of adequate roadway improvements.
        In the early 1980s, my husband and I lived in a brand-new townhouse development (no garages) in N. Arlington. The parking headaches were such that we lasted less than two years there. Of course, residents of the surrounding single-family homes didn’t appreciate their streets being lines with cars from the townhouse development. Yes, these were public streets, but ARLINGTON COUNTY should have demanded that the builder install enough parking places for the townhouse residents to park on our PRIVATE little roadways and lots.
        This ties in with what “Overgrown Bush” says below about the need to stop high-density growth around low-density roads! It is common sense, yet it has escaped the decision makers of Arlington County for the past 30 years that I know of.

        • The builders are also allowed to build large housing developments on two-lane country roads without any road improvements. Our local governments need to stop being scared of lawsuits and grow some gonads.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            The problem is actually similar to the problems caused by expansion of the federal system – you bring more people in that are dependent on you – that gives you more power – so they don’t want to stop it since the current establishment lives off it.

        • Josh S

          And yet, and yet – in so many cities around the world extreme density goes along with two, three, four lane roads. You do not HAVE to expand roads every time you add a new building or replace a two-story building with a four-story one.

          If the county didn’t require parking, that means it was up to the developer to decide how much parking to build. If they didn’t build enough, then their prices would be lower or they simply wouldn’t be able to sell. Was that the case? Has that development become a ghost town? Or did the market work it out because now people with fewer cars live in that location?

      • madisonmanor

        PROVE IT.

        I have been in the area for over 20 years. In that time EVERY SINGLE customer I have supported has moved from inside the beltway to outside (okay, one of the six actually relocated to Huntsville, AL because this area is just too freakin’ expensive). The USG simply cannot afford to pay the premium $$ commanded inside the beltway. If the largest employer is moving outward and the infrastructure to support it remains the same, we will have the same problem in reverse.

        The current infrastructure (roads, public transportation etc.) is insufficient to address the needs of the residents (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William) – and with the spread of employers migrating outward to chase the lower rent $$, the problem is only going to get worse. Burying our collective heads in the sand isn’t either a wise or productive choice. Space- and energy-efficient solutions only work for migrating EVERYONE toward an ultimate destination. That hasn’t been the case for a long time.

  • John B

    I am an Arlington resident and a big proponent of public transportation but Arlington does need to get real and cooperate with widening 66. I only take it about once or twice a month but it’s always backed up between Ballston and 267, both directions. If I had to take it daily I’d go nuts.

    • Me

      More of a reason to take Metro then.

      • John B

        Not everywhere west of the 66/267 interchange is Metro/Bus accessible.

        • Ali

          Amen. Nor is Metro/bus convenient to take out there when you can. I used to work in Tysons and Metro/bus out there would’ve taken twice as long as driving did.

      • Southeast Jerome


        Your comment makes you look like a fool. Can you take Metro to the Reston Town Center? Or how about to the Dulles Mall? How about to wineries out in Leesburg? Or what about to a friends house in Gainesville?

        “Take Metro” is just a cop out for not addressing the real problem, just like “cut spending” is a cop out for the tea partiers for not raising taxes.

      • B.

        NO. Metro is designed to take people into DC. Not everyone works in DC.
        I agree with John B. Widening of 66 is LONG OVERDUE.

        • duh!

          but….doesn’t I-66 go into DC? and not everyone works there apparently

  • yequalsy

    Let’s build a highway here to help solve congestion.

    Look at this great highway let’s build a bunch of sub-divisions

    Let’s widen the highway to help solve congestion.

    Look at this great highway let’s build a bunch of sub-divisions.

    Let’s widen the highway to help….

    • Let’s build and Orange Line to develop around.

      Let’s build some high rise apartments to increase the density.

      Why is the metro so overcrowded?

      Let’s build some more high rise apartments to increase density.

      Why doesn’t everyone take the metro and drive instead?

      Let’s build a silver line to Tysons.

      Why is the Orange Line so crowded?

      Sigh…..same cycle.

      • RosRes

        Not to rain on your parade, but actually the metro is really not overcrowded. People simply complain too much. I moved here from Chicago, and let me tell you that subway is significantly more crowded and less reliable than metro. And as for point 2, there has been no apprciable increase in traffic on roads along the R-B corridor since quadrupling the population. So actually, it does work to plan density around multiple transportation options (note that its not just around metro). It works in Arlington because you have metro, cars, car-sharing, bicycles, bike sharing, walkability, buses, etc. In other words multi-modal. When people can select from multiple transportation options, thus spreading trips between more than one form of trasnportation, everybody benefits. I have now lived in Arlington for 13 years, and I experience no traffic issues at all. I walk, drive and metro (for the most part). It works just fine. The problems arise from the desire to build more and more housing etc. which only relies on one single form of transportation: the car. If everyone has to drive to every single place they need to go, guess what happens? Congestion! Their issue is now that they’ve built car only dependency its costly and difficult to re-engineer their neighborhoods. Why should this be Arlington’s problem?

        • ” there has been no apprciable increase in traffic on roads along the R-B corridor since quadrupling the population”

          You’re kidding me, right? I’ve been here 40 years and there most certainly has been an appreciable increase in traffic!

          • Josh S

            Actually, he’s right. The increase in traffic in the R-B corridor has not matched the increase in population growth in that same area. It’s because transit and mixed use allows people to do what they want without driving as much.

    • CW

      Ahh, finally someone who gets it!! Can’t put it any more simply or truthfully than that.

    • Ali

      Sprawling on the fringes of the city
      In geometric order
      An insulated border
      In between the bright lights
      And the far unlit unknown

      Growing up it all seems so one-sided
      Opinions all provided
      The future pre-decided
      Detached and subdivided
      In the mass production zone

  • Arlingtron

    An interesting subject that will sure anger someone will be to make I-66 HOV 2 in BOTH directions during rush hour. Would be a good compromise to the widening critics. The growing pattern of heavier reverse rush hour traffic proves this may be necessary.

    • Lou

      Or HOV-3/HOT. And sell it to a group of foreigners from Australia. Zimmerman would flip his lid.

      • North A-Town Snob

        But what if it was sold to a group of foreigners who were in Arlington illegally?? Would he then support it? It might just cause his head to explode!!

    • John B

      Howabout tolls instead of HOV? I’d be ok with a 25 or 35 cent toll to use 66 inside the beltway if it meant 3 lanes the whole way. No $1+ BS though.

      • Nothing like tolls to speed up the traffic flow.

        • North A-Town Snob

          Require a EZ Pass to use it. I can go through the new tolls with the dedicated center lanes that they just opened on 95 in Delaware at 65 mph without a problem. Having EZ Pass and the regular tolls share lanes as is done at most toll plazas is dumb as all the lanes end up backing up.

          • So there won’t be any way for an interstate commuter from Maine to use this section of Interstate highway to travel to Florida unless they research it ahead of time and get an EZPass? Do you know of anywhere else there isn’t provision to accept cash?

          • North A-Town Snob

            Can’t say I do, though I think there are on and off ramps to the Greenway where there is no cash accepted, just EZ Pass and Credit. Not disagreeing with your premise though in that it would probaby not be feasible to just have EZ Pass…I guess my emphasis should have been more on the actual dedicated lane part of my comment in order to reduce a backup at the toll plaza. The improvement at the Delaware toll plaza that I mentioned on 95 is huge. I am a frequent commuter between DC & Philly/NJ/NYC and the improvement is monumental. Where that plaza used to back up awful and having an EZ Pass really made no difference, because you were all stuck sitting there, the new dedicated lanes that split off from the main part of 95 a half-mile or so before the tolls are making a huge difference.

          • JR

            Congestion pricing is another option. With automated EZ-pass systems you can charge a higher fee for rush hour and less when congestion is lighter.

      • CW

        Tolls tend to set off the class warfare red flags in this area of the world. Raise the prices high enough to lower congestion, and suddenly you have a nice uncongested road full of brand new German cars…

        • R

          As well as me in my beater pickup truck who was smart enough to not waste all my income that probably is equal to or higher than most people buying the expensive German car because they need a car to help them with their self-image and make them feel important…I always let the wife have the nicer family car. Sure that’s not everyone who buys an expensive car, but I like to make broad, unsubstantiated generalizations…like guys who buy expensive sports cars are over-compensating for a lacking anatomy. Generalizations are fun for the whole family!

          • So what’s the generalization on your wife who needs to drive the newer nice car?

      • Larchmont

        25 or 35 cents? Add a dollar. Wait until everyone has EZ pass. It will be so EZ to collect tolls, and still have room for 1 cash booth.

    • Clizzledizzle

      But how would you possible be able to get from lets say Arlington to non-metro connected Reston, Herndon or Dulles? It means everyone will have to over dominion highway which is a 1 lane road most of the time.

      I honestly wouldn’t be against toll, it seems to weed out some of the worst drivers on the 267.

    • Burger

      Actually, the better solution is to add a lane in each direction and make it permanently HOV/HOT

  • Brandon C

    Phrasing your argument like the Old Spice Guy. Well played NVTA, well played.

  • Jacob

    Widen it and charge for it. Simple.

    • bringmetheyuppies

      Amen brother. FINALLY someone who has the answer!

  • charlie

    the biggest frickin group of whiners ever is NVTA. 66 has been open since 1982 — it has taken them 29 years to pave 12 more feet of Arlingotn. I hope it takes them another 29 years to do the rest.
    what losers if it takes you 29 years to accomplish your goal.

    and yes, the bottleneck is just moving to Sycamore Street. Stupido planning.

  • Brady

    What’s wrong with widening 66, and increasing buses, Metro, and other forms of mass transit. Adding a third lane hurts NO ONE. How about advocating for ALL traffic solutions as opposed to being a stick in the mud about cars.

    Despite what some may think in the progressive utopia that is Arlington, the car is not going anywhere.

    And increasing HOV on 66 is just about the most blindingly moronic idea I have ever heard in my life. Wow.

  • westover chica

    How about instead of building more condos, apts, townhouses, etc, they build more roads so people have OPTIONS on how to drive in.

    • CW

      Are you volunteering your property for the future site of one of those roads there, smarty pants?

  • Vik

    I don’t see the problem with widening it in the way it has been around Fairfax and Sycamore. I-66 can have the same footprint it has and we don’t need to move any sound walls and whatnot. Beyond that, and we’ll have some problems.

    People using the induced demand argument under any circumstances where road infrastructure is improved remind me of conservatives who believe in the Laffer Curve no matter what the economic/fiscal situation is. It’s not a completely new highway like the ICC that we’re talking about for Arlington. I can understand the argument saying that this could be the chipping away of a principled stance we’ve had for years, but I think given the congestion and area’s growth, we can work out a compromise where we add a lane, keep the same I-66 footprint and allocate some money to transit all in one fell swoop.

  • JimPB

    Address the root causes.

    One root cause is the legions of Federal employees in the D.C. area.

    Action: Decentralize the Federal government. There is no need for the bulk of D.C. Federal employees to work here. Move their offices and facilities to various sites around the country. There goes a big part of the commuting load.

    This will also be a meaningful step twaord deflating the government based economic boom here AND the insulation of the DC area from the problems of the rest of the country.

    And it will put work skills and demands and the salaries and benefits of Federal employees into closer comparison with those of other workers.

    Another root cause is insufficient “close-in” affordable housing (this means high-risk apartments and townhouses).

    Action: planning and zoning for high density, close-in housing COUPLED with making the full costs of providing for commuting from afar explicit and immediate to these commuters, e.g., tolls to pay the cost of maintaining existing commuting routes and for new construction. The tolls will be substantial.

    • not totally disagreeing

      Not trying to argue, but on the other hand, the government already really does try to limit spending on employee travel and will not allow trips (at least for general gov. employees/military not counting “big wigs”) that exceed certain amounts. A lot of private companies who are not centralized spend a HUGE chunk of their budget on employee travel for meetings, conventions, etc. Clearly “budget” is a word I should probably avoid, but moving offices “to various sites around the country” would not save any money… and with where our gov. is with money, that doesn’t seem to really help any. Although at least in planning, there are a lot of government offices looking to move further out and still stay within the NoVa/DC/MD “metro” area (I put “metro” in quotes because that definition gets fuzzier and each suburb becomes it’s own city and the suburbs further west, south, and north because the new suburbs).

    • bringmetheyuppies

      OR…. we eliminate “affordable housing” since it is really just taxpayer funded subsidys for lazy folk. Plenty of poor kids go to our schools. Where do you think they live? Let the market dictate the housing prices and stop takin my money.

    • Burger

      Yes, let’s kill the economy of DC and NOVa by kicking all those government workers to Butte, Montana.

      Ever heard of cutting your nose of in spite of your face.

  • JimPB

    Address root causes. One is the legions of Federal employees. Action: Decentralize Federal government. There is no need for the bulk of D.C. Federal employees to work here. Move their offices and facilities to various sites around the country. There goes a big part of the commuting load.

    This will also be a meaningful step twaord deflating the government based economic boom here AND the insulation of the DC area from the problems of the rest of the country.

    And it will put work skills and demands and the salaries and benefits of Federal employees into closer comparison with those of other workers.

    Another root cause is insufficient “close-in” affordable housing (this means high-risk apartments and townhouses). Action: planning and zoning for high density, close-in housing COUPLED with making the full costs of providing for commuting from afar explicit and immediate to these commuters, e.g., tolls to pay cost of maintaining existing commuting routes and for new construction. The tolls will be substantial.

  • Johnny Utah

    What about 9 million socially conscious and unified citizens all just stepping up and doing their part?

  • aptsguy

    just telework.

    • teleworker

      Get rid of overpaid workers who chat with coworkers all day and replace with telecommuter making less in rural US who is responsible for actually getting the job done.

      • JR

        Needn’t be rural. It takes my wife 45 minutes to an hour to get from Ballston to Union Station with traffic, and about the same on Metro. That’s two hours a day wasted. Every day.

        Flex-time and telecommuting are valuable for everyone, even those who live close in. Unfortunately, the government and many private employers have not yet grasped the way the world works and embraced the kinds of things that would help them retain their best workers.

        • teleworker

          I strike my rural reference. Just making point that excellent workers need not be located in urban area only. Accountability trumps butt -in-seat mentality.

        • dk

          really? I commute from Glebe Elementary (after dropping off my son) to Union Station and it rarely takes me more than 30 minutes. She’s going the wrong way!

      • JimPB

        A college classmate worked for Social Security in rural Pennsylvania. When he transferred to Social Security here, he was shocked at the increased pay (far more than the locality allowance) and the diminishment in work done.

        Move the bulk of D.C. government workers (and contractors) to various locations around the country.

  • dirty biker

    I alternate driving and riding from Courthouse to Sterling (Wo&D)- I love zipping by the stalled traffic on I66 and find that the trip actually only takes about 15 minutes more EB by bike in the afternoon as by car.

    Although I buy the road expansion breeds congestion argument, there really is a traffic management problem at the 267 merge (EB) that could be mitigated by a new spot lane- I don’t have any data to back this up but traffic flow magically opens up at Glebe without any major accompanying departure of vehicle density. Drivers seem unable to deal with the sudden 4-3-2 merge or the two minor curves which combine to cause a consistent chain-reaction backup.

    Anything done should be carefully assessed but if some spot lanes would ease the dysfunction without expanding the throughway footprint then I feel that they should be explored.

    As an alternate, I would LOVE to use public transportation but it it quite literally impossible to get to my workplace without a 2 mile walk. Nor can I take my bike on metro and knock off a quick 5 miles from the Dulles Silver Line station (whenever that gets built).

  • Chris

    Tell me, what has Fairfax done for Arlington lately except drive through it and complain?

  • crw

    Traffic on 66 is like a Guinea Pig going through a Python. Widen the road at one point and you just create a new choke point farther down. There are only so many bridges across the Potomac and I do not know of any plans to build additional ones in the near future. Arlington also should not pay for the development errors of surrounding counties.

    • PeterOfArlington

      I was thinking the same thing, though not necessarily with the python analogy.

      At one point the three (or more) lanes are going to whittle down to two, probably right before the Rosslyn tunnel creating a back up. Every. Day.

      Are the going to widen the tunnel? How about the bridges crossing into DC?

      How is that helpful to the flow of traffic where a clog point creates gridlock?


  • Go get ’em Elitists

    The loud mouths among the 200,000 in Arlington who want to dictate for the other 2,000,000 who live in Northern Virginia. Reality is that building I66 has benefited traffic flows in Northern Virginia and Arlington itself for more than a generation. The ignoramuses who complain about improvements have no idea how difficult it was to get around in this area before I66 was built. Richmond is going to get you.

    • C Mc D

      Elitists? You pay $1M for a fixer-upper and come live here –> then you won’t want this ‘widening’ crap either. I live close in, just north of 66, frequently bike (so as not to add to the I-66 commuting debacle), and if that makes me an elitist, so be it. I also lived in South Arlington for 10 years saving up to move closer in so I didn’t have 2+ hour commutes, and started my own company for the same reasons. I’m not sure how your problem is mine, just as my choices aren’t yours. And Richmond can go pound sand, who wants to be with that bastion of misfits? It’s been an ‘honor’ to send Richmond $1 and get $.58 in return… all these years. If there was a sensible approach — no tolls, a commitment to be able to fix and maintain the road without tolls (you know things a government should do), provide better, wider bike lanes, and perhaps talk about installing an Express Metro lane… now that’s something interesting, but until then, this loudmouth is going to make it very difficult for you. Your kids might get to drive on 3 lanes of 66… enjoy.

      • JR

        I agree. All I-66 did was provide a subsidy and incentive for western suburbs to grow without adequate thought and planning. The folly of thousands of cul-de-sacs feeding onto the same roads is coming home to roost. That is not our problem.

  • JCW

    Wait a month or so and three lanes will be just as congested as two were. Build it and they will come.

  • MC

    Much of the congestion comes from people who are illegally using HOV lanes without the passengers needed. If people want a serious solution to congestion that doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, make it HOV-4 with no exceptions for Dulles.

  • John Andre

    Absolutely NO widening of I-66 which would result in the destruction of County park land or the W&OD cycling/hiking trail!!!

    Parts of I-66 are TOO DARNED CLOSE to the W&OD and Custis Trails to begin with! Wildlife and trees are far more important for quality of life than more traffic, 90% of which comes from outside Arlington County.

  • Tom Lang

    Move DOD to Quantico. Experience low rent, low food prices and no congestion.

  • Carol_R

    Rt. 66 should never have been built to start with. I remember when it was over the opposition of Arlington. It took a lot of people’s homes and it doesn’t benefit Arlington. Instead people who made the choice to move way far out use it to trample through Arlington while they pollute with their cars.

    If it’s widened then, in a few years it will become congested again since more people will use that as an excuse to move 40 miles from DC and expect to have a short commute.

    There is no more room for more traffic entering DC so widening Rt 66 is pointless and those advocating it being widened who live 30 miles from Arlington are self-centered and unconsiderate.

    • “and it doesn’t benefit Arlington”

      Strange….. I see gridlock headed westbound every morning from Arlington residents going to work in Fairfax County. How does the road NOT benefit Arlington residents????

      What makes you think the road is only used to get into DC? Are there not jobs and people living outside of DC? Sigh….

  • Ted Williams

    I like the congestion on 66 because it increases housing demand for close-in neighborhoods — like mine in North Arlington.

    • Larchmont

      Mine too!

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Why don’t we wall off Arlington – and when all you isolationists run out of food at the Froyo and Pizza places – you can fight it out Escape from New York style.

  • ArlForester

    You people against it make the dumbest arguments. Where do you think those cars are now? They’re on Lee highway. They’re on Wilson Blvd. They’re on every other road in Arlington, stopping and going with the lights. Anyone concerned about the pollution effect don’t know that a thousand cars going 55 mph make a lot less pollution than 500 cars puttering along at 10 mph.

    • xtr657

      Tend to agree. As usual, the comments are all or nothing and it seems that no one looks at a possible middle ground, such as adding a third lane between the Toll Road merge and Fairfax Drive in Ballston (and no further). The traffic is horrible in the reverse commute direction every day and its mostly Arlington residents suffering to get home from work.

      Yes our sprawling development has failed us in this country and new roads have resulted in growth that in turn causes congestion on the roads built to eliminate it. However, you have to accept what is already here, and having 4 lanes coming off two major highways merging rapidly into 2 lanes is a disaster. Just as with the spot improvements in the westbound direction (which I think are less needed than eastbound), hopefully VDOT will eventually take charge and do the right thing for the region. As long as they maintain the HOV, partially relieving this bottleneck will not cause more growth out in Prince William County.

      • Fairfax County and Prince William County have done some road projects that are intended to divert interstate traffic from the Beltway, and to assist residents of the county in getting through the county. I’ve driven both, and both are wonderful. The Fairfax County Parkway can be a nightmare near the Toll Road at times. The Prince William County Parkway is likewise the same near Potomac Mills. But, both offer great options to get across the county quickly, and are a bridge diverting traffic betweeb I66 to I95 without having to go on an already congested beltway. The Prince William Parkway stretch west of Manassas is a pleasure to drive on and is a great way to cut a ton of time off of a drive.

        It is hard to say all these outer counties want to do is funnel cars onto the major highways into DC. They realize their residents live and work in the burbs too.

        • xtr657


          The way I can tell that so many Arlington residents are part of the 66 East backup each afternoon, whether they be continuing on from 66 out of Falls Church or 267 from Tysons/Dulles Corridor, is that Arlington still has the County Decal next to the Inspection Sticker. Since most jurisdictions in No. Va. and around the state have gotten rid of the decals, it is easy to spot which cars are registered in Arlington.

    • Larchmont

      The cars are doing 10 mph on the widened Route 28.

      • xtr657

        Thats because they don’t have the money or land rights to fix the interchange with 66. The light cycle can’t handle the volume. Imagine if they put a traffic light on I-95. Other than that, 28 is vastly improved.

      • FFC commuter

        The problems with Rte 28 could be solved with some investment. Southbound, eliminate the light and turn into Ellanor Lawrence Park, access the park from Braddock Road rather than Rte. 28, and put a realistic interchange with I-66 and eliminate those lights. Northbound, improve the flow of traffic through Ashburn on Waxpool Road. These two issues are probably the biggest contributors to the backups on Rte. 28. Using Rte 28 as a reason not to address I-66 is ridiculous. Better transit outside the beltway would help too, but don’t hold your breath.

  • Merl

    Do not widen I-66. Badly designed, big-government, road widening has been the driving norm for 60 years in America. 60 years of American road dystopia based on moronic user pricing coupled with bad design has driven republicans into one lane arguing for socialist pricing solutions and democrats into the other lane arguing for capitalist pricing solutions.

    • Wow.

    • xtr657

      Maybe it was bad, but it happened and it’s not going anywhere.

  • Larchmont

    How about making the GW Parkway 4 lanes in each direction? Send a lot of traffic up and around since the beltway will soon be smooth sailing after it is widened.

  • FFC commuter


    1. Ban Arlington residents from using I-66. That will reduce demand on the highway.

    2. Does sitting traffic on I-66 help the air quality in Arlington?

    3. Widening too much, especially in-bound, will it create a bottleneck going into DC?

    4. Strict HOV enforcement is a good thing, but more needs to be done, especially on drivers who go all the way to the beltway. Right now it is mostly inside the beltway off and on ramp enforcement. I see violators all the time.

    5. Better transit opportunities need to be funded for outside the beltway. Options are truly limited for many. And right now, Metro parking in Vienna is inadequate and along with the cost of fares and parking, very expensive. It is about as cheap to drive in.

    6. Arlington should participate in more comprehensive solutions for all of VA, not just being NIMBY, because they are in the path of most Virginia access to the District.

    7. Widening to resolve the known bottlenecks was essential. Eliminate them and along with HOV, maybe things won’t be so bad.

    • I’ll add one:

      Reform construction and zoning laws to keep development low unless proper funds are provided by the builder/developer for transit improvements adequately supporting the additional development.

  • If widening I-66 is what VDOT really wants, how come it settled for 3 discontinuous merge lanes, only one of which it has money to build? Because it wanted to avoid doing an environmental assessment that likely would have revealed that the only effective solution to congestion on I-66 is either a third Metro rail or a managed third lane, i.e. HOT or HOV with express bus service. Face it, VDOT has a vested interest in opposing mass transit.

    Audrey Clement
    For a Greener Arlington

    • xtr657

      Environmental Assessments are used as a tool to try to stop all infrastructure projects. Usually they cost millions in and of themselves, and delay a project which results in higher construction costs. They are one of the reasons we can’t afford to build new or maintain existing infrastructure in this country anymore. I’m all for being environmentally sensitive, but thank god we built Metro and the Interstate Highway System when we did, because it could never be built these days with our out of control regulatory systems.

      But…if you truly hate a project and don’t want it to be built, I can see the logic in wanting to do whatever it takes to stop it.


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