Construction set to begin on Interstate 66 widening

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Construction is set to begin soon on the widening of Interstate 66 outside the Beltway.

The public-private partnership will include $3.7 billion in transportation improvements to the Interstate 66 corridor in Northern Virginia.

Plans include adding two express lanes in each direction alongside three regular lanes from the Beltway to University Boulevard near Route 29 in Gainesville. The express lanes will include tolls that vary depending on traffic conditions. The project will include space in the median that will be reserved for future transit.

The project also includes 4,000 park and ride spaces, new and expanded commuter bus service throughout the corridor, safety and operational improvements at key interchanges, auxiliary lanes between interchanges, and bicycle and pedestrian paths and connections.

Under a 50-year partnership agreement, I-66 Express Mobility Partners (I-66 EMP) assumes responsibility for all costs to design, build, operate and maintain the 66 Express Lanes. It requires EMP to pay $800 million for transit service in the corridor and $350 million in other projects to improve the I-66 corridor over the next 50 years.

I-66 EMP is a consortium of Cintra, Meridiam Infrastructure, John Laing Group Plc. and APG, and their design-build contractor, FAM Construction LLC, a partnership between Ferrovial Agroman US and Allan Myers.

The project’s financial close was reached on Nov. 9, securing the funding necessary to move forward.

I-66 EMP also will give the commonwealth a payment of $579 million to fund additional transportation improvements in the corridor. With input from local jurisdictions, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority developed a list of recommended transportation projects for funding from this concession payment, which will be voted on in January 2018 by Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Among the recommended projects that the board will consider are an interchange at Route 234 and Balls Ford Road in Prince William, capacity improvements on the VRE Manassas line, and a new bus facility in Manassas.

“Today marks the beginning of the transformation that will take place on I-66 Outside the beltway over the next several years,” Javier Gutierrez, CEO for I-66 Express Mobility Partners, said in a statement. “When completed in 2022, we will be moving more people and offering more travel options on a safer and more efficient highway, and this will directly contribute to enhanced quality of life for people on this vital transportation corridor.”

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