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VDOT Study Examining the Widening of I-66, Route 50

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm 8,898 150 Comments

Widening I-66 and Route 50 inside the Beltway are among the options for relieving congestion on the I-66 corridor currently being studied by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The “I-66 Multimodal Study,” as its called, began in July 2011. Study organizers held public meetings in December 2011, are scheduled to hold additional public meetings in April, and are expected to wrap up in May with a final report.

“This study will identify a range 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,” VDOT says on its web site.

Currently, I-66 is HOV 2+ in the peak direction during peak hours, with no other restrictions on the reverse peak direction or during off-peak hours. With the exception of the recently “spot improvements,” I-66 consists of two travel lanes in each direction.

Among the theoretical options the study is considering for I-66, as outlined at a recent public meeting:

  • A. No new I-66 lanes. Peak direction to be bus/HOV 3+ only during peak hours. Reverse peak direction to be bus/HOV 2+ only during peak hours. No off-peak restrictions.
  • B. Convert I-66 into an electronically tolled bus/HOV/high occupancy toll (HOT) highway. Single occupancy vehicles and HOV-2 vehicles would be tolled in both directions, 24/7. Buses and HOV 3+ vehicles would not be tolled. Optionally, a third travel lane may be added to I-66 in each direction.
  • C1. Lane added in each direction on I-66. Peak direction to be bus/HOV 3+ only during peak hours. One reverse peak lane to be bus/HOV 2+ only during peak hours. No off-peak restrictions.
  • C2. Lane added in each direction on I-66. Peak direction to be bus/HOV 3+ only during peak hours. All reverse peak lanes to be bus/HOV 2+ only during peak hours. No off-peak restrictions.

Additionally, the study is examining the following options for other roads, means of transportation and services:

  • Enhance Route 50 by applying access management principles, adding a bus-only lane in each direction (either new lane or converted shoulder), possibly allowing general traffic on new bus lane during off-peak hours.
  • Improve Metro service by adding two interline connections: from the Orange Line to the Blue Line between the Rosslyn/Courthouse and Arlington Cemetery stations, and from the Blue Line to the Yellow Line from the L’Enfant Plaza and Arlington Cemetery/Pentagon stations. Additional connections would “provide operating flexibility for Metrorail and a direct connection between I-66/Dulles Corridor and Pentagon/South Arlington.”
  • Add Priority Bus service along I-66, Lee Highway and Route 50 corridors, with 10-minute peak period frequency.
  • Implement Transportation Demand Management strategies.
  • Enhance or add bike and pedestrian trails, parking (at transit stations) and transit access. Expand bikesharing system.

Anyone with questions about the study can email [email protected] or call 1-855-788-3966 (855-STUDY66).


  • Ben

    A lot of fail went into planning back in the 70’s.

    i66 should have been a multi-lane highway.

    The metro should have been at least 4 tracks.

    • Curious George

      I think a lot of awesomeness went into the planning back in the 60s. This area was not anywhere near as developed even into the 70s. I remember Soybean fields at the intersection of Shady Grove and 355 even in the late 70s. What kind of nut would build a subway station near a soybean field? Luckily they did.

      Yes Metro should have been a 4 track system but good luck getting people to pay for it back then. The Silver line Dulles station should be in the terminal. 30 years from now there will be a post on ArlNow asking why those idiots in 2010 did what they did.

      Also Metro was not at capacity as stations opened up. I used the Red line as stations opened up along 355 and it was nowhere near capacity in the late 80s.

      Even if VDOT wants to expand 66 there will be 30 years of legal fights. Look how long it took to build the Inter County connector in MC.

    • drax

      It wasn’t planning, it was that Arlingtonians strongly opposed I-66.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Yep. If I recall correctly, it was only allowed to come through provided it was no larger than four lanes.

      • Carol_R

        I sure did. I-66 doesn’t benefit Arlington. It allows people who live far out to tramp through it. It destroyed lots of homes.

        • ReverseCommuter

          Sure, back then that made sense; I bet there are enough Arlingtonians now who reverse commute to the Dulles Corridor that an additional lane makes sense (at least to the Lee Highway/Spout Run exit). Ask anyone who commutes from Tysons/Reston/Herndon what a disaster 267/66 becomes on a rainy day, never mind a normal commuting day.

        • truth be told

          You need to get out more. Drive west one weekday morning.

          • Burger

            Or drive west on any weekend afternoon. There are a number of Arlingtonians that drive 66. Much of the northwest part of the county drives 66.

    • Vik

      There aren’t many heavy rail systems in the world that are 4 tracks. NYC is more of an exception, rather than the rule.

      Maybe we could have had a 4 track system, or 4 tracks in certain areas if Metro didn’t become bastardized into a commuter/subway system and actually have something that cities like NYC and Chicago have in addition to heavy rail systems, which is world-class commuter rail. That and if we have a dedicated funding source from all three jurisdictions. Another river tunnel and a separate blue line are projects near the core that are high priorities going forward.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Yea- the places where an extra track would be huge is the core, say from Ballston to Smithsonian on the Orange Line. Even a third track would have been prudent just for when you have a breakdown/sick passenger/etc.

        Trains could skip stations and keep going rather than backing up the entire line. Someone sneezes on the orange line in the morning rush and the entire line turns into a clusterf*ck, horrendous design and short-sightedness by horrible leaders.

    • Intelligent person

      Transportation planners put a lot of effort into failure and should be applauded for that (that’s sarcasm). Just consider the 495-395-95 malfunction junction where 395 narrows to two lanes southbound and the angles in relationship to sign visibility to determine whether you are in the correct lane to go north to DC or west towards the Cabin John bridge.

  • Brian

    I agree .. because having 8 plus lanes into 2 as you head into a major east coast city makes perfect sense. 4 from DTR, 4 from Beltway, 4 from 66 outside Beltway …..

    I was thinking the other day that turning into a toll road would be a good option, pay for the traffic you want. But do really think the HOV rules make a difference? Just look at 66 at 6:30pm, that’s when the traffic starts and before that, its on neighborhood streets

  • novasteve

    how do EZ pass readers know how many people are in the car?

    • South Awwwlington

      EZ Pass transponders as we have now we be replaced with EZ Pass transponders that have a switch, HOT/HOV. It will be up to the driver to make sure the mode is correct and cameras will verify along the route. I speak only for the implementation along 495 according to Transurban staff.

  • GreaterClarendon

    If I am reading C2 correctly, it is basically a plan to screw anyone who drives westbound in the morning and eastbound at night – just because they can – bad idea. That is my daily commute, and except for the Ballston merge in the a.m. or poor weather conditions – the commute is without much problem. The return is a little more challenging, but for me it is an acceptably slow commute, and they should not zone it HOV2 because there is a 10 minute delay between East Falls Church Metro and Ballston. For a year I tried the Metro to Bus and reverse, but 1) the costs for metro and bus was nearly as much as driving, and 2) with young kids in school, I need the flexibility to get back to Arlington if there is a fever or otherwise. Unlike people coming into DC, I don’t know where Arlingtonians could pick up slugs as their +1.

    • MC 703

      You must not come back in on the DTR – the evening commute on 267E is often painfully miserable starting at Rt 7 and continuing to Exit 71 (Ballston).

      After reading this I am gonna start working on my telecommuting paper work.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    I doubt there is very much room to widen either road inside the beltway without removing homeowners, causing massive disruptions, huge expense/cost overruns, etc. Arlington made the decision many years ago that it would accept I-66 provided it would be two lanes (plus shoulder) both ways – long before it became so built up. I doubt that 90% of Arlington residents (95% residing close to (I-66) would stand for building an extra lane in each direction.

    I’m not sure most commuters that drive would agree with making I-66 HOT – at least those commuters driving from other locations into Arlington or through Arlington to DC. Look at the hot mess with the I-395 HOT controversy.

    Even if this VDOT proposal ever got started, I imagine all sorts of litigation and so forth would delay things that any changes, when they happened, would already be obsolete for the future traffic flow/volume.

    At least, that is my view and opinion. I just don’t see any of the options happening – someone, somewhere in NOVA will be inconvenienced or worse. If it makes it better for Arlington residents, the commuters further out will be up in arms. If it makes it better for commuters further out, local residents will be up in arms.

    The alternate set of options below might be doable, except for Metro. Every time a butterfly in Brazil sneezes, a track on a Metro line cracks, a train wheel breaks, or a train operator gets the hiccups and the whole thing has to grind to a screaming halt.

    “Enhance Route 50 by applying access management principles, adding a bus-only lane in each direction (either new lane or converted shoulder), possibly allowing general traffic on new bus lane during off-peak hours.”

    “Improve Metro service by adding two interline connections: from the Orange Line to the Blue Line between the Rosslyn/Courthouse and Arlington Cemetery stations, and from the Blue Line to the Yellow Line from the L’Enfant Plaza and Arlington Cemetery/Pentagon stations.”

    “Add Priority Bus service along I-66, Lee Highway and Route 50 corridors, with 10-minute peak period frequency.”

    “Implement Transportation Demand Management strategies.”

    “Enhance or add bike and pedestrian trails, parking (at transit stations) and transit access. Expand bikesharing system.”

  • barry

    Won’ t the opening of the silver line help ease some of the traffic on 66?

    • Michael H.

      Hopefully it will. But the Tysons Corner stations won’t come online until late 2013/early 2014. Funding plans still haven’t been finalized for Phase II to Dulles (and beyond?). Some Loudoun County officials are now grumbling about paying for the next phase of the line. There’s even a chance (maybe a small one) that Loudoun will back out and not pay for any of the Silver Line. (That would mean no Metro stations in Loudoun County.)

      If Loudoun backs out, Fairfax could even delay their funding for Phase II.

      I know funds are scarce for every jurisdiction, but the latest Metro study shows that a new Silver Line will attract millions of new customers. (Some people will merely switch to the Silver Line instead of taking the Orange Line, but the majority of Silver Line riders would be new to Metro.) If Phase II isn’t built, then those millions of trips will have to be taken by automobile.

  • TCE

    You’re never going to alleviate the bottle neck going into the city without more bridges to spread the load out. More lanes can help going out bound especially for emergency evacs though. I66 is already 3 lanes plus the shoulder lane outside the beltway. So outbound you could handle four lanes.

    • Ben

      The original plan for the 70’s did have i66 splitting into two bridges.

      As originally planned, the 0.9-mile-long “West Leg” was to connect the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which was to bring I-66 from Virginia into the District, with the Whitehurst Freeway and eventually, an extension of I-66 via the North Leg Freeway. To the south, the West Leg was to connect to the South Leg Freeway (I-695), an unbuilt freeway that was to tunnel under West Potomac Park en route to the Southwest Freeway (I-395).

      • D’oh

        Agreed. It only backs up on the bridge when you have the Rt 50 traffic crossing 2 lanes to the E Street exit. It’s absurd, and no amount of fiddling with 66 will do anything unless this issue is fixed.

        • Southeast Jerome

          Agreed. Adding another merge for GW Parkway & Route 50 Drivers onto the left lanes of TR bridge to get to E Street would really help things…..

  • duh

    Flying cars! Duh.

  • Vik

    Definitely C1 or C2. I-66 needs to be three lanes in each direction inside of the beltway and HOV should be 3 passengers minimum.

  • Pike Transit

    We often overlook the obvious….Set aside another $250mm to extend the Columbia Pike street cars. Wait that figure just got updated to $350mm.

  • train wreck

    providing “operating flexibility for Metro” is like providing teenagers with car keys and whiskey

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • Bluemonter

    Good to study different options. It is a very bad idea for people living in Arlington County to accept anymore increase in the foot print of 66. If lanes can be added without increasing the foot print that is a maybe, but even then you just add to pollution to the county. Hopefully they will add light rail or a Rapid Bus System to 50. That will help some of the commuters from the outer burbs as most people from Fairfax and points west travel 50 into the city. I would build a line along 50 all the Way to Fairfax City.

    That is the best use of the little money the state now has….The Light Rail system would also ideally cross over the Potomac. That would also alleviate some of the crowds on Metro.

    • Southeast Jerome

      “Light Rail”

      Come on man. This isnt an epidsode of the Simpsons where the Monorail will save the town.

      Adding lanes in both directions on 66, along with expanded bus service on 66,50 and 29, are all needed. It cant just be one silver bullet. You are going to have to live with the fact that as DC region grows, we need more lanes. Just a fact of life.

      • Bluemonter

        Really…you think building light rail is something from the simpsons? Have you been to New Jersey (right outside New York) or Portland? Light Rail works fantastic outside NYC and has created less traffic and more options to close-in burbs. Listen it does not have to be light rail the system could be a Rapid Bus System. The point is that another crossing so 50 empties directly into DC is the only real solution. Currently, routes 66 and 50 merge on the TR bridge. Just think about that for a second. Two of the largest arteries into the city merge onto one Bridge. That is the real problem that people are missing.

        • Southeast Jerome

          There also needs to be something on the other side of the river right? The TR bridge doesnt exist in a vaccum. You are just moving the chokepoint to somewhere else.

      • J

        This is the most commonsense comment on this discussion. With an expanding region, all options must be put on the table not just one plan.

  • Noah

    Increasing HOV doesn’t solve the problem; it just shifts it to other roads. Tolls also don’t solve the problem unless they are part of a plan to raise money for expansion.

    • Juanita de Talmas

      Neither will building more lanes. Here’s an idea: If you work in DC, don’t buy a house in Haymarket.

      • CRW

        The reason many people buy homes in the suburbs is because they can’t afford homes in DC, NOVA or MontCo. The prices are ridiculous! A co-worker told me that during her holiday visit home to Ohio in December, her son asked her if grandma and grandpa were millionaires because they lived in the type of home that would coast $750K or more in this area (in Ohio it’s worth about $250K).

        • Carol_R

          People were greedy in my opinion and wanted a much more luxorius house than they could afford close in so they opted to move farther out for a cheaper place and then expect other taxpayers to foot the bill for them to commute.

          • truth be told

            Or maybe they live in Fairfax because they work there and don’t want to commute westbound from Arlington in the I66 traffic.

          • Burger

            Damn those people no wanting to live on top of their neighbors. Man, to think people would want a yard for their kids to play in, maybe more than 1 bathroom. Greed, I tell you. Those people should be destroyed…oh, wait, I thought I was posting on GGW. end sarcasm.

          • drax

            There’s plenty of yards and bathrooms in the inner suburbs and even in DC.

          • PoMonkey

            I am Pro Choice when it comes to allowing people to live where they want. It’s their money and they have the right to do with it what they want. And yes, the government should support that choice because we are better off as a society if we support the right to choose, and people don’t have to live in dirty back alleys. Hands off my McMansion!

          • Southeast Jerome

            Carol- Not everyone was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and buy a house in Arlington in the 1970s or 1980s when they were dirt cheap relative to now.

            Get off your high horse. It is absolutely unrealistic to think there is enough housing in Arlington for people with families. Not everyone makes $300K to be able to afford to $800K single family home in Westover/Lyon Village/Lyon Park etc.

            Dont look down at people because they purchased far out. They pay the price with their time, but just because you happen to live in Arlington doesnt make you better or more entitled.

            This is a regional issue and until Arlington realizes that, the lawmakers in Richmond will make this county’s lives hell for being so NIMBY.

          • ArlMom

            I get tired of hearing how impossible it is to buy here. It’s a matter of making choices. I own a little house in North Arlington where I live with my family. 3 bedrooms, purchased recently on a rather limited salary (~55K) . Those opportunities to buy exist. It is a small house, it is an older house, but it suits me and my kids just fine. My coworkers may choose to live further out so they can get new construction or a larger living area, but in return they have a much longer commute. It’s a tradeoff. People turn up their noses at perfectly sweet little houses just because they are smaller and older. When I was growing up in Arlington, many of us had families of 6 or more kids in those houses and we did just fine.

          • ThingsPeopleSay

            Good lord, what a reasonable comment.

            I knew a couple in the early 2000’s, both worked downtown, looked to buy in Arlington or Alexandria and ended up in some new subdivision out near Leesburg. They had plenty of money (lawyers) but couldn’t see “moving into someone else’s used house”.

          • JackFan

            Amen to that comment. There are tradeoffs to both choices and we shouldn’t be expected to have our cake and eat it too. Thanks for a well-reasoned opinion.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Yeah but its 2012. The “affordable houses” in Arlington with 3 bedrooms mostly have 1 bathroom and are horrendously maintained.

            You cant realistically expect people to live in a 3bedroom, 1 bathroom home with a family. This isnt a 3rd world country where we are forced to make due on $1 a day.

            Why do you think all the 1920 shacks are being torn down and replaced with newer homes?

            ArlMom it seems to me like you and your family are the exception, not the norm.

          • ArlMom

            Jerome, your calling a little rambler with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath “third world” is exactly what I’m talking about. Guess what, I have teenagers sharing just such a house with me and we manage just fine. They have to learn to primp in the bedroom, not in the bath, and sometimes we have to wait for the shower. That is not “third world”, it is entirely realistic. Most of the world would consider our house a luxury. My children are not suffering because they have to learn to share a bathroom or live without vaulted ceilings. I personally think that it is a sad thing that so many of these solid little brick houses are being torn down for McMansions. It’s not being done because there is anything wrong with the brick houses (in fact, many are very solidly built and maintained), but that so many people insist on a brand new McMansions and that’s the only way to get them in an area that’s already fully built. If someone must have a new McMansion and can’t pay Arlington prices, fine, the exterior suburbs beckon. But for those of us who are willing to live simply, it is quite possible to find a home within reach here in Arlington.

        • drax

          The cost of transportation often outweighs the savings in home price, though that doesn’t mean you can qualify for a loan.

      • Courthouse Res

        THIS! And yes some people can’t afford to buy closer in, but some (many I know) just don’t want what they can afford living closer in! They want a house with all the bells and whistles. Well, that’s fine, but don’t cry about your 2+ hour each way commute.

    • PL25rd

      I completely agree. My husband and I commute together into the city during HOV-2 hours, and the traffic really isn’t that bad! Increase the HOV, and lots people who live in Arlington and commute in using HOV-2 will be pushed onto other roads, like Lee Hwy, Lorcom Lane/GW Parkway, and Route 50. It will be disastrous for the secondary roads.

      • Fred

        Also agree. My wife and I HOV in to work from Falls Church. On the days that one of us doesn’t go in, we take Washington Blvd. Going to HOV-3 would have a serious impact on these secondary roads. The first thing that they need to do is get rid of the Hybrid exemption.

        • Vik

          What about the people outside of Arlington? For a lot of people, it’s simply not worth the time to take another road if they can’t make it into the HOV lanes.

    • R. Griffon

      And what problem, exactly, is HOV-3 supposed to solve? I’ve NEVER seen traffic be a problem while driving on 66 during HOV-2. If anything, it’s grossly underutilized.

      HOV-3 would just be stupid.

      • Vik

        HOV-3 is a way to further incentivize car-pooling. HOV-3 is not stupid, having one HOV-2 lane is stupid. HOV-3 works fine on 395 along with a lot of other places. Calling two people in a car high occupancy doesn’t make any sense. Increasing the HOV requirement and getting rid of the hybrid exception are two things that could be done relatively quickly that would just make more sense.

        • PL25rd

          Vik, the difference is that I-395 is not entirely HOV restricted, only the HOV lanes. Having an entirely HOV-3 restricted interstate that forces any car with less than 3 people onto secondary roads is not a good idea!

          • Vik

            An entirely HOV-3 restricted interstate is not what’s being proposed.

          • Burger

            Yes, several proposals have hov-3 restrictions during rush hour. That will drive move cars to the local roads like Lee Highway, Chain Bridge and GW Parkway. Further congestion there will drive those people making more local trips onto roads like Pershing, Washington, Blvd, 26th St. and the like.

        • R. Griffon

          The problem with that is that they have ALREADY been incentivised to carpool. Anyone inclined to do so is already doing it under HOV-2, and HOV-3 will only take more people out of the carpool lanes (anyone who can’t find a 3rd passenger, which is probably quite a few).

          Going from 2 to 3 is supposed to solve what problem exactly? Traffic is currently NOT a problem on 66 (inside beltway) when under HOV restrictions. So what is this supposed to solve?

          I”d be willing to listen if it was HOV-3 outside the beltway only. Plus maybe loose the hybrid exemption. The HOV lane outside the beltway is a mess and barely moves any faster than regular traffic. But inside? It just doesn’t make any sense.

          • Vik

            I could get behind HOV-3 outside the beltway only and keeping things as they are inside the beltway, except with an additional lane. But, I wouldn’t mind if the additional lane inside the beltway were to be HOV-3 because I believe it would make things better and there are people who could find a third passenger.

          • Burger


            I agree with your overall point. Make a lane inside the Beltway permanent HOV-2/3 all the time like 50 is outside the Beltway going to/from Annapolis.

      • Carol_R

        HOV-3 is what it was original.

        They should make it HOV-3 or HOV-4. It should never have been HOV-2 – that’s just ridiculous.

  • Bluemonter

    More capacity on 66 will just increase the sprawl into the outer suburbs with no improvement in traffic. Just look at Atlanta and their 4 plus lanes each way on GA 400 not solving their problems.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      My Deputy P.M. is from Atlanta and she has quite a few horror stories about Atlanta traffic and the massive highways there not helping traffic there at all.

    • drax

      Look at the horrid mess that is I-270. 12 lanes and STILL no relief from congestion – because it just brings more sprawl further out. Pretty soon it won’t matter if there is congestion or not, the drive will take forever because everything is so damn far away.

      • Andrew

        But if the people who live in Rockville, Gaithersburg, Fairfax, Leesburg, etc. did not live in those “sprawl” areas, where would they live? Is there that much available housing closer in to DC?

        • SoMuchForSubtlety

          Good point. We need to build more housing closer in to discourage new residents from living farther and farther out and thus needing more and more lanes to get in. The more people sprawl, the more Arlingtonians will pay the price as they continuously want to drive through the county. One day we’ll just be a big piece of continuous asphalt.

          • truth be told

            Or maybe people should just live closer to where they work. If they work in Rockville, then live there. If they work in DC, live in Arlington or Alexandria. This problem eventually solves itself for any one individual. There is only so much time available to commute.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Right- but just look at the comments on this board when new condo or apartment developments are announced.

            People either complain because there are going to be more people near them or they complain because people live far out.

            HONESTLY PEOPLE. You cant have it both ways. If you want it both ways, move to the Congo or Zambia.

            You cant oppose adding lanes to 66 AND oppose high density development in Arlington. With a growing population, it needs to be both.

        • drax

          If there isn’t as much housing available closer to DC, it’s because it’s cheaper to build it in the sprawl areas. So that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • esmith69

        I’m not sure how often you travel on I-270 during rush hour, but you are DEAD WRONG about its traffic situation. Going North on I-270 during the evening rush hour, as soon as you actually get off of the spur and onto 270 proper, traffic speeds up dramatically. And it remains that way through Rockville, Shady Grove and Gaithersburg.

        Only when you start getting into Germantown does it get bogged down again, and that’s only because it goes from the 8 original lanes down to 3 and then past Germantown it goes down to 2.

        The source of the traffic is the bottlenecked areas (i.e. the spur or the 2 lane sections near Germantown). The 8-lane sections run GREAT most days. So I don’t think it’s responsible to say that widening 66 won’t provide any benefit.

        • You are joking?

          what are you talking about. I take I-270 every day on my reverse commute and traffice is at a standstill every day going in the direction of traffice. Most of my co-workers live in upper Montgomery County and come in late like 9:30 am and stay late 7:30pm to avoid rush hour.. The only person being irresponsible is you by trying to say congestion on I-270 is a myth. It is a reality and it is this way because development just keeps on coming and there is no direct flow into DC. Just like 66 has no other bridge you can add the traffic to…

          • esmith69

            I didn’t say all of 270 is traffic free, just that the sections of it with 8 lanes usually move much faster than the bottleneck areas (i.e. the spur, which is a measly 3 lanes, and the part of 270 past Gaithersburg, which is 3/2 lanes).

            If you were to go from DC to somewhere in Moco via 270 during the evening rush hour you’d see what I mean. You’ll get stuck crawling along on the spur, then when things open up with the 8 lanes once you’re on 270 proper, it’s like a switch flips and everyone starts going normal speeds. That will continue up until you get around Gaithersburg, and then you’ll get bogged down again, because up there they really need more than 2/3 lanes. There’s been HUGE growth in Germantown and Urbana, but they haven’t widened 270 up there to accomodate that increased traffic.

  • come on

    I have been commuting from glebe to DC on 66 since 1998. 66 moves well into the city in the morning with HOV2. Raising it to three is idiotic. The bad traffic in the morning on 66 is headed westbound from the city. These suggestions about hot lanes and HOV 3 are about scratching where it doesn’t itch.

    • jan

      I see that every day: HOV 2 moves very well.

      • truth be told

        The beltway is, however, not that way. The only thing HOV3 will serve to do is dump more people onto the beltway and then onto the side roads. NO THANKS!

  • OX4

    We could implement Fairfax’s solution circa 1965. Cris-cross the county with 6-lane boulevards and 8-lane interstates, then force the Metro system to build an additional Silver line 40 years later, quietly acknowledging that more, wider roads was a disastrous plan.

    • truth be told

      What are you talking about? The Fairfax County Parkway? Most of it is two lanes in each direction. Near Reston it is a nightmare, but that is because of the lack of public transportation in Reston. And, I bet Fairfax County would welcome a Metrorail solution that spans Fairfax. Has Metro EVER suggested one?

      • Southeast Jerome

        Unfortunately- there is no money man.

        Although, the Federal Government could issue 30yr bonds at 3% to finance this. But dont get me started about real “stimulus”

  • charlie

    Arlington did their part by making Route 50 limited-access.
    Now Fairfax has to do their part. the worst thing about Route 50 is the all the stop lights from Arlington to the beltway.
    Remove them and make Route 50 limited access — like Route 5 in Maryland.
    people are on 66 because 50 sucks.

    • Nick

      There are still plenty of stop lights on US 50 in Arlington, after it crosses Washington Blvd. Not a ton, so yes, they did make it partially limited access. But there are still several that would need to be eliminated. Once that is done, they ought to raise the speed limit on US 50 – 45mph is unrealistically low on the open, signal-free stretches.

  • R. Griffon

    Adding capacity will never solve the problem. The only real solution is to create multiple job centers in the outlying areas.

    • R. Griffon

      Oh, and better public transportation. I’m sure we could all provide an easy list of grievances with the Metro, but they could start with more/larger trains, ample parking in the outlying areas (like Vienna), and maybe a 3rd track for express trains during peak hours (pipe dream I know, but still).

      • jan

        I agree with the 3rd rail concept. It was a very serious error to exclude one on the silver line.

        • J

          I wish they’d go with what NYC has; do an express below the local. Vienna, EFC or Ballston, Rosslyn, Farragut West, Metro Center, L’Enfant and a few on the eastern side. That’s it, don’t waste money or time renovating the other stations I’m in Clarendon and I say we need a new line that just goes right by us. Get all of those Silver Line people downtown in a hurry and relieve congestion on the main line. Plus, in case trains break down, people aren’t completely stranded–the system would be much more robust to crisis. They can get close to home–maybe not perfectly, but a lot closer than they could before. It would keep Rosslyn from completely filling up like it did when the guy committed suicide. It’s the kind of project for which I’d definitely be willing to pay higher taxes.

          • Burger

            I agree but NYC has a slightly more dense population than Fairfax and Arlington.

      • Ben

        The problem is that the train platforms can only hold 8-car trains, so you have longer trains going through them. The best idea would have been a third rail but orange, blue, and silver lines will still bottle up at the Rosslyn tunnel. They’d have to build another bridge for metro.

    • Andrew

      Are you talking about Federal jobs, private sector, or both? I agree it would be great for people to work where they live, but would think that would be cost prohibitive for companies to operate multiple offices.

      • R. Griffon

        Both. Although I’ll concede that it might be more difficult for many federal agencies to just pack up and head to a new facility, so maybe it’d have to be private at first.

        And I didn’t mean that companies would maintain several offices – I meant that they could choose from any one of multiple “urban villages” in which to locate. It would then be up to people to choose jobs in a center closer to where they live if they so choose (but I think many would).

        • Andrew

          You also are making an assumption that because one wants to live/work in a certain area, they can get the job where they want.

      • jan

        That’s an incomplete concept. Most households have two workers: few commuting to the same site. Also, people don’t stay in the same job in the same building during their careers.

    • Vik

      Mindlessly increasing capacity is not the right thing to do, but this is a growing area and we need to invest in multiple forms of transportation. We need more transit AND appropriate improvements to roads.

    • Jimmy

      R. Griffon: I have always thought that to be the solution. Are there any examples of that working in an urban environment and the method of the implementation?

      • R. Griffon

        I haven’t studied it enough to cite real concrete examples, but I’d look towards Tysons and the Dulles corridor, and Reston Town Center as potential models.

        Tysons – A lot of people will probably attack me for saying this, b/c traffic in Tysons is a disaster. I think this is a problem of poor traffic planning (incl. lots of lights to disrupt the flow), lack of public transit (soon to be eased somewhat by the Silver Line), and a real-world example of overwhelming market demand for work/shop/dine center options outside of the beltway. I’d characterize it as a great step in the right direction, although perhaps poorly implemented and unable to keep up with demand.

        Dulles Corridor (along the toll road) – Lacks the shopping and dining and is not a “center” the way I would normally think of it, but it might be a good example of how jobs can be easily located close to major roads for easy access. This is somewhat “undone” by the fact that traffic for those has to compete with traffic headed for points inside the beltway. Maybe it’d be better for all of those center lanes were open to everyone headed for the beltway as an express lane.

        Reston Town Center – This is really more like what I’m talking about. Lots of office space, plus shopping and dining. Easy access to a major road (and not too far from some other pretty major ones, like 7100 and Rt. 7), plus soon to add a major stop for mass transit. And even a fair amount of housing IN the center and close nearby. Probably the single best example I can think of. Now we just need like 20 or more of them all around the Metro area.

        • Andrew

          But if you look at a lot of the larger employers (defense contractors, consulting firms, etc) they all want to be close to DC (i.e., their clients).

        • truth be told

          I would agree with you mostly. I will say a train stop in Reston Town Center is really needed. Have you ever tried to get from the Town Center to the Toll Road at 5 p.m.? Ugh….. Horrid.

        • Burger

          I think one of the problems with the Silver line and will eventually result in less use than modeled is the placement in the middle of the DTR. Before anyone hits a house the station is almost 1/4 of a mile away. Most studies have found at most people will walk to Metro stations if they live less than a mile away. After that they will get in their cars.

          Further, most people will not take a bus to take the train. It becomes impractical and not a savings on time.

          The designers of the Silver line should have shifted the train or at least the stations to one side or the other. this would drive development much like the Orange line does along the Ballston/Rosslyn corridoor.

          • I would agree to some degree, but your point doesn’t really hold up for the Orange Line. It sits in the middle of I66 yet the trains are full when they get to Arlington. They seem to be perfectly utilized.

          • Southeast Jerome

            But most people drive and park at stations like Vienna and Dunn Loring. Ever notice how 66 West in the afternoon always backs up around Vienna?

  • Chris Slatt

    They came and presented at Transportation Commission and couldn’t answer basic questions like “what criteria are you using to evaluate the mobility options”. They’ve already narrowed the possible solutions from “hundreds” to nine and they haven’t even finalized what criteria they’re measuring them on?

    This is sounding more and more like a quick bogus study so VDOT can say “see, we studied it, now let’s widen 66”.

    • Bluemonter

      I suggest people call and voice their opposition to widening 66. The number is provided in the line above but I am posting it for the sake of ease:



      • Thank you. I am going to call in support of widening I66. I’m sick of “reverse commute” traffic I deal with every day created by Arlingtonians going to Fairfax to work.

        • drax

          So you’re going to respond to being sick of people taking highways to work getting in your way as you get to work on a highway by endorsing building bigger highways! That makes sense.

          • It does, perfectly. I support all additional transportation infrastructure. Not just bikes, electric trolleys, and walking shoes.

        • PoMonkey

          Yep, I am calling in my support too. Also emailing my reps. Definitely need to add lanes.

          • Bluemonter

            Call in, that is your right. Just remember for every call supporting widening I-66 you have at least 10 people opposed to the idea. Oh and yes I also e-mailed my representative. Do you even know who the arlington reps. are? Probably not, you are probably still registered to vote in another area of the state or another state all togeather.

          • PoMonkey

            Well I guess I am going to have to call a lot then, and get a bunch of my friends to do the same.

            Arlington is not going to stop growing, and neither can we afford to stop expanding roads. Your bucolic slice of Arlington will eventually succumb to higher density development and all the extra traffic it entails.

            And I have lived in Arlington for over 40 years. Not that it should matter, but maybe it does to you.

          • Bluemonter

            It does matter because you are proposing the type of changes that kill a community. If not look to the examples of Union City and Weehawken, NJ. Those parts suck because people don’t like to live near the smog and pollution created by the huge parking lot that is due to all the cars trying to cross the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels into NYC.

            I am not anti-growth, just smart growth. Those places in NJ have just started putting in light rail and are trying to add crossings into NYC. You have a very similiar geography and circumstance in Arlington. We have kept it a desirable place to live by limiting the foot print of route 66 and being innovative with how we use public transportation. If you are serious about improving the amount of traffic in NOVA. The answer is very simple, add more public transit options, add more bridges/crossings into DC.

            Rt 50 should have its own dedicated crossing as should Rt. 66. How about this thought expand canal road and chain bridge to handle more traffic so people head into the city from other points instead of just taking GW Parkway to TDR or Key bridge.

            Also, how could you be performing a study without measuring the impacts of the Silver Line. You don’t think people will take metro to work at Tysons Corner once the Silver line exists?

          • PoMonkey

            Cool your jets buddy. More lanes can also serve managed capacity and BRT uses.

            And it seems you are all for expanding roads and adding bridges everywhere else, just not 66. I’m going to guess you live right by 66.

          • ok. I’ll call or email in 11 times then.

          • Bluemonter

            Then do it!

            Hey here is some advice use 11 different numbers and disquise your voice that way no one will know it is the same person that keeps calling.

  • South Awwwlington

    lol….I bet alarms are BLOWING UP at GGW and Coalition for Smart Growth. I can just see the emails now. The great Satan is back at it….


    • Burger

      The GGW folks are absurdly funny in their view. I would think if they could go back and time and kidnap Ford they would…or may stop the guy from inventing fire…they are Luddites to the extreme.

      • Joey

        Luddites? What technology does GGW oppose? Wider roads? Subsidized parking?

        • Burger

          Personal choice and cars.

        • South Awwwlington

          Actually I have never read an article on that blog where they consider a multi-modal approach. It’s always transit, trains at that, 100% of the time.

          Their theories and ideas were fine 20 years ago when we need TOD to help move cars off roads but now our existing rail infrastructure is crowded and pushing it’s limits. Without added infrastructure that’s just not going to happen in this economy, it is time for them to start thinking outside of the box also.

          Their “holier than tho” tone of their posts is a turn off to planning professionals and everyday folks alike. What could be a great resource for community discussion and engagement has been toxic and even those who agree with Mr. Alpert are turned off by their delivery.

      • drax

        The Luddites are the ones who want us all to live like we’re in 1950 instead of growing into a city with modern public transportation.

        • TechSavvy

          Exactly. People like the “Burger” above think there is only one answer to whatever the question is and that answer is more cars. Personal choice is fine with people like that – as long as the only choice is more cars.

          • South Awwwlington

            For every “Burger” there is a David Alpert too. Just remember that.

  • One word to alleviate congestion and save money on building/upgrading roads: telework.

    • South Awwwlington

      DUH. But that’s too easy.

    • Uh…. that doesn’t work for a pharmasist, sales clerk, research scientist, etc. Duh.

  • JamesE

    Make 66 a toll road and let me drive as fast as I want to like the autobahn, also teach people to move over for faster traffic.

    • get out of my way damnit!

      peep! peep!

  • David

    The problem seems to be more for people who do not live in Arlington, I live in Arlington, work downtown, and carpool with my wife. I rarely have traffic on I66. Inbound expanding to three lanes is stupid, you are just creating even more of a bottle neck at the TR bridge. IF you can expand to three lanes westbound, then that would help. I66 seems to be an issue for those that commute past East Falls Church.

    • South Awwwlington

      10 years ago, the only congestion on I-66 westbound was in the evenings. Now I hear tale of it being a parking lot in the AM rush too which says to me…Tyson’s really is growing…and that we need a multi-modal solution…but people don’t get that. too often the walls go up around each camp and there war ensues…as this will SURELY bring about. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and read the transportation clips in my office.

    • Burger


      you make a good point but here is the problem. In the blog post after this is people complaining about the plans to build a new tall office building. Now, to get more people living closer that means increased density i.e. more hi-rises, more townhomes, less single family homes.

      Wake me when people get beyond the contradictory viewpoints of stopping increased density and stopping expansion of roads. Until then most people have not taken their heads out of the sand and directly addresses the issues.

      • Southeast Jerome


  • North A-Town Snob

    I agree with that to an extent. My westbound AM commute now to Tysons from Clarendon is definitely far worse than it was for me 10-12 years ago. Evenings seem about the same coming home, maybe slightly worse. And while I do remember in my early commuting years there always being backups getting on 66W at Ballston, I don’t remember backups as bad as they are now when I would occasionally get on at EFC. I will say that I think the new 3rd lane westbound from Ballston seems to have helped in morning.

    • North A-Town Snob

      Sorry, that was meant to be a reply to South Awwwlington’s post.

      • South Awwwlington


  • Suburban Not Urban

    Adding HOV on the reverse commute is just completely illogical. By definition you are going from a concentration point to scattered destinations(The into DC commute works because you are going toward a concentration point). Who am I supposed to car pool with, any neighbors could be going to a hundred diverse locations? To boot the outlying area’s transit support is weak and not designed to get across these locations. Typical of the smart growth – one ring to rule them all folks.

    • Garden City

      I wholly agree. You have to think of I-66 as a funnel with the wide end out beyond the Beltway. It funnels workers into Arlington and the District from many, many points outside the Beltway. The concentration of employers doesn’t exist outside the Beltway. They are widely scattered out along the DTR and though Fairfax and Chantilly.

  • mickey644

    Being an old dude, I can remember when there was no I66. The original planning called for 3-4 lanes which was nixed as not needed. EVERYONE screamed! This was when Centreville was a blinking yellow light and a few gas stations and Manassas wasn’t much bigger. Everyone knew Dulles Airport was going in and needed a highway too! The Metro was also nixed as “not needed”. Guess what? You got it! The planners have died off or retired on their government pension (that should be revoked!!) and their children are left planning for doing what their parents didn’t do. Shame

    • Carol_R

      Dulles Airport needed a rail line to it from the start.

      • agreed but…

        It needs an express line – not one that stops at all the stops and takes over an hour to get downtown

  • MC

    The Interline connectors are a great idea: it would increase metro capacity. We need high capacity rapid transit buses coming from places like Gainsville, going in both directions all times of day. The closer you get to the District, the less possible it becomes to add a third lane — it is just wishful thinking once you get to where I66 is below ground. Inevitably, people have to merge when they get to the bridge into the District, so widening only creates the illusion of faster travel for DC headed traffic because this doesn’t create any more carrying capacity into DC.

    • Phoebus

      This merge argument is completely nonsensical. Every time you drive somewhere you merge repeatedly. You go from low capacity side roads to big roads and back again. It is part of driving. Adding lanes to 66 creates a merge. So what! That is not a reason to not do it. If that was the case, we would have never built a road wider than one lane.

  • R. Griffon

    Or maybe the best idea is to get rid of it altogether:


    OK, so maybe not. 66 is a very different situation from any of those outlined in the article, but it DOES provide some very strong evidence that’s contrary to the “more lanes and capacity will solve all” school of thinking.

    I would, however, love to see something like this happen to Wilson and/or Clarendon Ave.

    • Rosslyner

      Good read. The Georgetown community is in a decades long discussion about the possibility of tearing down the Whitehurst. It was interesting to read above that a west branch of the TR bridge was originally envisioned as a link go the Whitehurst. Seems to me that another span that supports auto, bike and ped traffic should be in long term plans along w another metro tunnel.

      On making Wilson or Clarendon ped only, how about looking at side streets instead? NYC has several options other than Broadway while N Arl has few that are designed to support as much traffic as W and C. The street in Courthouse that has the flea market is already ped only on weekends and that seems to work w little impact to cars. Some plans for central Rosslyn show the street in front of the metro as ped only. While that may not be functional, one lane could be yielded to pedestrians w the others restricted to buses and maybe cabs.

      • JC

        The 60’s/70’s interstate planning boom is really interesting from a historical perspective. To read all about the “highway lobby’s” plans from that era I totally recommend checking out this link – http://www.roadstothefuture.com/DC_Interstate_Fwy.html

        Actually, when you come to think of it, Arlington planners got a lot of things right. I-66 was literally rammed down the throats of Arlington County, but they successfully fought to keep it to 2 lanes each direction. Even more significant, the original orange line alignment was NOT the Wilson Blvd. corridor – it was down the center of 66 the entire way into Rosslyn. Can you imagine what courthouse, clarendon, ballston, would look like without metro?

        • Rosslyner

          Yikes. Thanks for posting, JC. Jack’s Boathouse might not have survived this plan. Most fascinating part:

          I-266 would have branched from I-66 near the Spout Run Parkway in Arlington, Virginia, and would have crossed the Potomac River into D.C. on the Three Sisters Bridge (named after the small Three Sisters Islands), then followed the river east to the Whitehurst Freeway, which would have been reconstructed as I-266, and I-266 would have ended at I-66 at K Street NW. I-266 would have had 6 lanes and it was essentially a parallel corridor to I-66. The original I-66 proposal would have provided 8 lanes from the Dulles Airport Access Road junction to the I-266 junction, and 6 lanes from I-266 to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. So in effect, the 8-lane I-66 corridor, as it approached D.C., would have become a 12-lane corridor on two freeways.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    A more simple solution is that the Federal Government does not have to have all it’s Agencies and Departments inside the Beltway.

    They need to start migrating them out. DOD has done this by moving some Commands down to Fort Belvoir.

  • We need more bridges

    Widening I-66 or Rt. 50 will do nothing to alleviate traffic if DC doesn’t widen the existing bridges or build more river crossings. Why is everyone wasting time arguing about how last Fairfax residents can race to the parking lot at the Virginia side of the TR bridge?

    You people are dumb.

    • What’s the use of building more bridges when the parking garage entrace in DC is only so wide??? That’s the real bottleneck! Everybody is going across a bridge and into a parking garage!


  • Thanks for the link btw! I noticed a significant flow coming from this website and was trying to figure out from where and how. Thanks for the compliments! We’ll try to keep up with great websites like Arlnow.com GGW and DCist for our little neck of the woods, but we also discuss overall network issues for the area as whole as well.


    • Baja

      This appears to be a classic case of presenting *really* bad options in hopes of “compromising” on what VDOT really wants, which is most likely 3 lanes each way on I-66 with existing, or more lenient, HOV restrictions (unless they’re also shooting to screw Arlingtonians with tolls or HOV restrictions for non-peak direction travel due to past transit kerfluffles a la 395 HOT, the original I-66 installation, and previous I-66).

      As others have said, HOV 2+ in the peak direction during peak hours works *reasonably* well despite some backups (though is occasionally horrific like all metro-area traffic).

      I would advocate for additional I-66 spot improvements in both directions, within existing right of way, to ease merges & exits. This probably wouldn’t help much, but as others have said, I doubt there’s room to do three lanes all the way without massive disruption and expense, and DC already has trouble absorbing existing inbound volumes.

      Moreover, more folks might take metro since the pending rush hour increase in Orange line trains will increase its capacity by 18% (that’s with mostly 6 car trains) and the Silver Line should help ease I-66 congestion to some extent in both directions.

      Expanding bus service on 50, 29 and Washington, and improving or eliminating some of the intersections would help (I’d like to see bus rapid transit in dedicated lanes on 50 – it’s wide enough & would be way cheaper than any rail-based alternative). So too would more transit oriented development of high-density commercial & residential along the orange line stops West of Ballston (like Reston Town Center, Tysons, & the R-B corridor) instead of existing commuter parking lots…not to mention improved bridge access to DC.

  • I think the Silver Line Phase I is going to help somewhat as a lot of people currently slug 267 to 66 inside the beltway. The real key is going to be Silver Line Phase II. Thats when you will see people from the real tributary sources having access directly to metro, including 10s of thousands in the Reston/Herndon proper region as well as people who might have continued past Wielhe station, but with a station ins Ashburn/Herndon now would decide metro is quicker.

    I’ve done a bit of a critique a while ago on the “anticipated vehicle reduction numbers”. I think it falls to the question of, look whose telling you the info. Of course VDOT will always pick the biggest number, they gain nothing by underestimating traffic counts (under funded, over whelmed) but if they over estimate (over funded, under whelmed). I always take VDOT estimates with a grain of salt and I think WMATA is being optimistically conservative at best. http://thetysonscorner.com/blog/implications-of-the-silver-line-phase-ii/

  • Kevin Diffily

    Converting the left lanes for dedicated, high quality, comfortable BRT running every 5-10 minutes during rush hour would significantly and quickly increase carrying capacity. Hopefully in the future they would be replaced by even higher capacity rail.

  • jm

    Why is this argument so one sided, it seems to be an “us versus them” argument. The facts are that there are more people living in this region since the creation of I-66 and Metro’s Orange line. Pointing fingers of who is to blame will not change the fact the traffic is bad in the DC area.

    Frankly, there needs to be increased service of metro during the rush and off peak hours, a widening of I-66 by one lane ideally within the current right of way. There also needs to be an express commuter bus for an increasing number of individuals who do a reverse commute from Arlington to Tysons and the Dulles Corridor, currently the only express commuter buses come from Prince William and Loudoun to Tysons, Arlington, and D.C.

    On the east bound lanes of I 66 during the evening commute I 66 is a crawl as far back as the the Dulles Access Road merge until exit 71 (Fairfax Drive). A good compromise is a third travel lane until exit 71, which is where the congestion ends. Making the east bound lanes of I 66 HOV 2 during the evening commute for individuals who do a reverse commute will artificially reduce congestion on I 66 in the evening, but will only increase congestion on local roads such as Route 29, and Route 50, which are already very congested.

    I know someone is going to mention induced demand, I 66 has been relatively the unchanged, less the Sycamore Street Spot improvements. If you look and the annual auto usage since its creation the numbers have been growing steadily, induced demand is obviously not the case.

    I know that the widening of I 66 is a contentious issue but the fact of the matter is there have been population increases since the 2000 census in all parts of the Region from D.C, to Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax. Local Governments need to work together in order to mitigate congestion, otherwise the numerous Corporations in the IT, Government Consulting, and Defense sector which is the driving force of this region could just choose to relocate their headquarters to find less congested and more affordable office space. After all in a volatile economy companies are always looking to cut costs.

    I am in favor of a comprehensive transportation network, which includes better transit, express bus, the creation of HOV/bus/HOT lanes and the responsible widening of I 66. Fairfax and Arlington Counties should give tax incentives for employers to allow their employees to telecommute to work.


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