Construction kicked off this morning (Thursday) on a persistently congested section of eastbound I-66 with a ceremonial groundbreaking on Fairfax Drive.
The estimated $125 million project will add a lane to stretch approximately four miles inside the Beltway — from the Dulles Connector Road to Fairfax Drive — while mostly maintaining the existing right of way.
VDOT plans to complete construction of the lane in fall 2020. There will be night time lane closures along the project route throughout the summer to accommodate construction, according to information presented at a June 5 community meeting.
Night time closures will continue on a more limited basis through summer 2019. By the end of this summer, VDOT plans to begin primarily conducting work during the day without lane closures.
The findings of a noise analysis in the fall will potentially allow VDOT to incorporate approved noise walls into final construction plans.
Two other projects are slated to be completed by October 2021 as part of the widening initiative. First, a new ramp will be built to establish direct access to the West Falls Church Metro station from the highway. Second, a pedestrian bridge will be constructed over Lee Highway on the W&OD Trail. Currently, the trail crosses Lee Highway at its intersection with Fairfax Drive.
These plans have not gone uncontested — Preservation Arlington included the inside the Beltway portion of the highway on its 2017 list of “endangered historic places” and some East Falls Church residents have expressed concerns about the pedestrian bridge, for example.
Shannon Valentine, Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, noted in her keynote address at the groundbreaking that I-66 is often considered one of the worst highways in America. Efforts such as this project, dynamically priced tolls on I-66 and an increase in travel options aim to change that.
“As we move forward, smart, targeted investments like the eastbound widening today are steps… [toward] building a transportation platform that supports and enhances our workforce, jobs, business investment and growth,” Valentine said.