Arlington, VA

It won’t be nearly as disruptive as the year-long, round-the-clock lane closures on Columbia Pike, but VDOT is planning temporary closures on I-66 next week.

One lane of eastbound I-66 will be closed nightly — from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. — in the East Falls Church area on Monday and Tuesday, the state transportation agency said. There will also be multiple, brief closures of Sycamore Street and eastbound I-66 during that time.

The closure will allow the installation of bridge girders as part of the project to add a lane to eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston.

More from a VDOT press release:

Bridge girder installation to widen I-66 East will require multiple brief closures of Sycamore Street in Arlington during overnight hours on January 6 and 7. Additionally, the left lane of I-66 East will be closed while crews install six bridge girders as part of the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project.

Details:

  • The left lane of I-66 East will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the nights of Monday, Jan. 6, and Tuesday, Jan. 7.
  • There will be a full 20-minute closure of I-66 East shortly after midnight the night of Monday, Jan. 6, so that girders can be delivered to the work area.
  • Vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Sycamore Street under I-66 will be stopped for up to 20 minutes at a time between midnight and 4 a.m. multiple times each night. Stoppages are planned for northbound traffic on the first night, then southbound traffic the second night.
  • Pedestrians will be directed to the opposite sidewalk to proceed through the work zone.

All work is weather dependent.

Drivers and pedestrians are urged to use caution and expect possible delays. Real-time traffic conditions and information is available at www.511virginia.org or through the 511 Virginia mobile app.

The I-66 Eastbound Widening Project will add a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and install approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers. The project also includes building a new bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) for the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail, and constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metrorail Station at the Route 7 Interchange.

The additional eastbound lane is scheduled to open to traffic in fall 2020, and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021. Learn more about the I-66 Eastbound Widening Project and sign up for project updates and lane closure alerts at Transform66.org.

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Expect heavy traffic on westbound I-66 in Arlington due to a two-vehicle crash near the Washington Blvd exit.

The crash felled a light pole, which then fell across the right-hand lane of the highway. Police are on scene, awaiting a highway crew to move the pole and tow trucks to remove the crashed vehicles.

As of 1 p.m., one lane was getting by the crash scene, with temporary full closures to help facilitate the cleanup. Westbound traffic was backed up more than a mile, to the Rosslyn area, as a result.

Update at 2 p.m. — It appears that the pole has been moved out of the roadway and the blocked lane will reopen soon.

Photo (1) courtesy David Johnson

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Six highway workers along I-66 in Arlington were injured, four seriously, after an alleged DUI driver plowed into their work zone overnight.

The crash happened around 12:30 a.m. on I-66 near the N. Quincy Street overpass. Virginia State Police say the driver of a GMC Yukon veered into an active work zone, striking the half dozen workers before slamming into a light pole.

The driver was arrested for DUI and two passengers who allegedly tried to flee the scene were apprehended by Arlington County Police nearby, according to VSP. The six workers and two of the GMC occupants were brought to local hospitals, but all are expected to survive.

Initially, some of the injuries were reported to be critical and potentially life-threatening. A task force of Arlington and Fairfax County medics treated and transported the eight injured people.

More from VSP:

At 12:29 a.m. Thursday (Dec. 5), Virginia State Police responded to a crash within a Highway Work Zone in the westbound lanes of I-66 at Quincy Street near Exit 72 in Arlington County.

A GMC Yukon traveling west on I-66 swerved into the active Work Zone and struck six highway construction workers. The vehicle continued off the right side of the I-66 and crashed into a light pole.

There were three occupants in the GMC. The driver and a passenger in the GMC fled the scene on foot. State police and Arlington Police apprehended the two near the scene.

Arlington County Fire transported a total of eight individuals. Four of the highway workers are still being treated at Fairfax Inova for serious, but non-life threatening, injuries. Two other highway workers and the two male GMC passengers were transported to George Washington University Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The driver of the Yukon, Kevin L. Blyther, 44, of Centreville, Va., has been charged with driving while intoxicated, one felony count for failure to stop at the scene of a crash involving an injury and one count of driving on a suspended/revoked license. Blyther is being held at the Arlington County Adult Detention Center.

There was a Virginia State Police vehicle positioned in the work zone with its blue lights flashing and the work zone was equipped with additional safety equipment and amber flashing lights to alert motorists of the active Highway Work Zone.

The crash remains under investigation.

This is not Blyther’s first serious run-in with the law. In 2017, he was arrested in Centreville following what police described as a six-hour barricade situation and domestic assault.

VDOT, meanwhile, is thanking social media users for an “outpouring of support” for the contractors who were struck.

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Tonight and through the end of next week, drivers can expect delays along I-66 in Rosslyn from nighttime lane closures on both eastbound and westbound sides.

Crews will work until Thursday, September 26 — minus this coming Friday and Saturday nights — to set up concrete panels and a debris shield alongside the N. Lynn Street overpass as part of the Lynn Street Esplanade and Custis Trail Improvements project, according to a Virginia Dept. of Transportation press release.

Eastbound closures will occur on I-66 between the Exit 73 ramp to northbound Route 29 (Lee Highway) and Route 110 (Exit 75), while the westbound closures will go from the North Lynn Street ramp (Exit 73) to the western end of the Rosslyn Tunnel.

The timing of the closures are as follows, per VDOT:

  • Eastbound I-66 right lane: Sunday night, Sept. 15, Monday night, Sept. 16 and Tuesday night, Sept. 17 from 9:30 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning
  •  Eastbound I-66 left lane: Wednesday night, Sept. 18 and Thursday night, Sept. 19 from 9:30 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning
  • Westbound I-66 left lane: Sunday night, Sept. 22, Monday night, Sept. 23 and Tuesday night, Sept. 24 from 10 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.
  • Westbound I-66 right lane: Wednesday night, Sept. 25 and Thursday night, Sept. 26 from 10 p.m. each night until 5 a.m. the following morning.

During construction drivers should expect delays and are advised to take alternate routes. Real-time traffic information and lane closure locations are available online.

The $9.3 million project will ultimately improve bicycle and pedestrian conditions along North Lynn Street with wider sidewalks, upgraded curb ramps, traffic signals, and more. Final completion is expected in spring 2020.

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A portion of the Custis Trail in Arlington will be soon detoured for the next year as crews continue to work on the widening of Interstate 66.

Starting Monday, September 16, trail riders and walkers will not be able to follow the Custis under I-66 where the trail now passes near Bon Air Park until fall 2020, per the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Instead, the department will detour people over the highway via an existing pedestrian bridge about 750 feet from the underpass.

“Extensive work will occur on the I-66 bridge that runs above the trail, which requires the underpass to be closed for safety,” VDOT officials wrote in a statement yesterday (Wednesday.) “As part of the construction, the Custis Trail alignment will be modified to improve safety for trail users.”

The pedestrian bridge travelers will be re-routed to is paved and connects the Custis Trail to Fairfax Drive near Kensington Street.

The trail closure itself was previously expected to start this past May.

“Construction schedules can be fluid with design built projects, but overall we are still on track and schedule,” VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Holland told ARLnow today (Thursday.)

The $85.7 million highway widening project also closed a section of the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway. That trail section will remain closed until next fall as crews build a new bridge over Lee Highway.

Holland said while construction crews work on widening the I-66 overpass near Bon Air Park, crews will also add a rotary to the south side of the Custis passage underneath. The new roundabout is designed to eliminate the sharp right turn into the tunnel that currently causes conflicts between those entering versus exiting the passageway. She added that current plans call for no trees to be cut down in the park.

As part of the I-66 project, officials have pledged to make several improvements to county’s trails, including new park benches, bike shelters, fencing, and trail signage.

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A tree has reportedly fallen, blocking the ramp from westbound Lee Highway to I-66, near Rosslyn.

Both lanes of the ramp are currently blocked. Drivers, including the driver of a commuter bus, could be seen heading back up the ramp in reverse. An Arlington County Police officer and VDOT sign truck are now on scene and blocking off the ramp.

Those on Lee Highway hoping to reach I-66 should continue heading westbound to the entrance near Spout Run.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the tree falling.

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(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) A meeting is planned for Wednesday, July 10 in Arlington to provide an update on the I-66 widening project.

Work is underway to add a third travel lane to eastbound I-66 between the Dulles Connector Road and Fairfax Drive, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) website.

The meeting, scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd), will discuss a planned noise wall replacement, among other topics:

Work will begin in the coming months to add and replace noise walls in many locations along the project corridor as well as build a new ramp connection between two existing ramps at Route 7 to allow direct access from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station. The open house will include a presentation and opportunity for attendees to view plans and talk with project team staff.

VDOT had previously announced plans to replace deteriorating sound walls along I-66 in Arlington as part of the widening project. A report in January noted that at least three segments of the wall were in a state of disrepair.

Photo (1) courtesy Del. Patrick Hope/Twitter, (2) via VDOT

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) The westbound lanes of I-66 are blocked approaching the Spout Run Parkway in Arlington due to a vehicle fire.

The fire is now reported to be out, but the lanes are temporarily closed due to emergency activity. Traffic slows just past Rosslyn.

Police are in the process of opening up one lane of traffic to squeeze by the scene of the fire.

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New projects approved by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) could improve some bus offerings around Arlington.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board voted yesterday (Wednesday) to use nearly $20 million in toll revenue to fund commuter projects along I-66.

“We [will] fund 13 projects that will provide connections to places people want to go, add options for commuter and local bus riders, encourage ridesharing and make it easier to choose transit,” said NVTC Executive Director Kate Mattice in a press release. “The projects funded through I-66 Commuter Choice will save Northern Virginia commuters approximately 485,000 hours of travel delay each year and move over 3,000 additional people through the corridor during rush hour.”

Additional bus trips are funded for some of Arlington’s major commuter destinations:

  • Metrobus 3Y: Lee Highway-Farragut Square — The $1 million project will increase the frequency of Metrobus 3Y, a peak-direction route that operates between the East Falls Church Metro and downtown D.C. via Lee Highway (I-66).
  • OmniRide Express: Gainesville-Pentagon — The $4.7 million project will add  three new buses and eight total trips to the route from Gainesville to the Pentagon. The route averages 300 riders daily, according to the project description, and connects riders to multiple Metro lines.
  • OmniRide Express: Haymarket-Rosslyn — The $776,700 project would add a new express bus between Haymarket Park and Ride lot to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The lot was built in December and offers 230 parking spaces.
  • New Bus: Stone Ridge-Pentagon — The $1.3 million project would fund a new bus line running from Stone Ridge II Park near Dulles to the Pentagon. The route will feature two morning and two evening peak-direction trips.

Five other bus routes enhanced or newly funded would pass from the outlying suburbs into D.C. along I-66.

The NVTC also agreed to spend $1.4 million to support I-66 marketing and outreach efforts of Arlington County Commuter Services — an agency that works to reduce traffic congestion and parking demand through programs like BikeArlington and The Commuter Store. The project will be continued for another three years.

“The approved projects for the FY 2020 Commuter Choice program provide connections to key destinations, address the needs of commuter and local bus riders and encourage commuters to use transit, carpools and vanpools,” the NVTC said in a report.

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A proposed streetscape improvement project has revealed rising construction costs in Arlington County due to ongoing work to add new lanes to I-66 and I-395 — and associated projects.

“We believe the shortage of qualified contractors resulting from the abundance of work generated by the I-66 & I-395 Express Lanes projects is contributing to the higher than expected bid prices,” according to a county staff report.

The project in question — which “will reconstruct curbs and sidewalks to install [Americans With Disabilities Act] compliant curb ramps and sidewalk areas,” mostly along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — will be considered by the Arlington County Board at its Saturday (June 15) meeting.

The county selected Fort Meyer Construction Corporation, which submitted the lowest bid for the project at $718,580.97.

“We have observed a high volume of construction in the region because of many projects, including major ones such as the I-66 and I-395 Express Lanes, and this work is distributed over a limited number of qualified contractors,” Ramzi Awwad, the engineering bureau chief at the Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow today (Thursday).

“Contractors have indicated they are paying more to compete for qualified laborers, and we have observed less competition in the form of lower numbers of bidders for some projects,” Awwad said. “The result is higher than expected costs in comparison to estimates.”

He added that this trend has affected other recent projects, especially in the last six months.

VDOT does not provide funding to offset the rising construction costs in Arlington, according to Awwad.

On Saturday, the Board will vote to accept Fort Meyer’s bid and could approve an additional $107,787 for the project in case costs rise further.

For now, the pedestrian proposal is still within the $2.02 million budget set for the two-phase project.

The pedestrian project aims to make eight areas in Rosslyn and Ballston ADA compliant by extending curbs, widening sidewalks, repainting crosswalks, and building new curb ramps. One of the sites is the intersection of 36th Street N. and N. Kensington Street, which aims to make students walking to Discovery Elementary School safer.

The seven other intersections slated for improvements are:

  • N. Nelson Street & 9th Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & N. Nelson Street
  • Washington Blvd & Jackson Street N.
  • Washington Blvd & 9th Street N.
  • Clarendon Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • Wilson Blvd & N. Barton Street
  • N. Troy Street & 14th Street N.
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Virginia needs to do more to catch people evading tolls, county officials said at an Arlington Transportation Commission meeting last Thursday.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials attended the meeting, with plans to boast about boosted speeds on I-66, but local officials were more concerned about what some saw as underenforcement of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) rules.

David Caudill, the division administrator for tolling for VDOT, explained that the current enforcement relies on Virginia State Police counting heads in passing cars in conjunction with checking a beacon that lights up on a gantry if the passing car registered as HOV.

But Commission member Audrey Clement said that fewer people are receiving citations for I-66 toll violations than would be even if there were a 99 percent toll-compliance rate.

“There were 702 HOV citations for a year, that averages to 2.7 citations for every eight hours of tolling. That’s three per day,” said Clement. “So we’re concerned that this phenomenon is being undercounted and underenforced, and that may be driving up tolls.”

According to VDOT staff, there are at least four state troopers assigned to enforcement on I-66 every day. Rather than just being able to focus on HOV rules, however, troopers also respond to emergency calls and traffic violations like speeding.

Caudill recognized that there is a lapse in toll enforcement and said that during enforcement “blitzes” the HOV usage rates drop by 3 percent, giving VDOT a rough estimate for how many drivers are ducking out of the toll.

“It’s a challenge, I’ll admit that,” Caudill said. “[It is] challenging to look at the light, count number of heads, and then chase them down… We’re not catching everyone, not by any means.”

VDOT staff said the group is partnering with Transurban to put together a pilot program for an electronic sensor system.

“We think there’s an opportunity there for better enforcement,” Caudill said, “[and] it does impact the tolls, probably.”

Clement was not alone in expressing her disappointment at the lack of enforcement. Chris Slatt, chair of the Transportation Commission, said the lapse in enforcement goes against what VDOT told Arlington when the toll lanes were first proposed

“When VDOT was here before tolling went into place, one of the main reasons presented [to us] was HOV violations were rampant then,” Slatt said. “We were told that this was going to be the solution to HOV violation problem, that we were going to do enforcement. And yet here we are, having this conversation again.”

Caudill said the new HOV lanes have also led to complications — for instance, electronic passes mean officers can’t get an estimate on toll-violators by just counting heads.

“I’m glad to hear pilot programs at least are in the works to try to get a handle on this, because HOV violators are slowing down legitimate HOV drivers,” said Slatt. “[They’re] driving up costs of people legally paying tolls, and taking money that could be used for multimodal transportation projects to keep us all moving.”

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