A groundbreaking ceremony on Monday marked the beginning of a $3.7 billion dollar highway project that will expand Interstate 66 to 10 lanes — three regular and two express lanes in each direction — outside of the Beltway in northern Virginia, wtop.com reports.The project includes plans for major interchange improvements, park-and-ride lots, and accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
During the event, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised the public-private partnership that has Express Mobility Partners designing, building, operating and maintaining the Express Lanes in exchange for toll revenues for at least 50 years. “We are now transforming the most congested area, the most congested road in the United States of America,” he said, according to the news agency, adding that the private consortium is tapping private and federal government transportation loans so no taxpayer money would be used on the project.
“We are taking a significant step today about moving more people, giving them more travel options so that they can go faster and more [reliably] on all different modes of transportation on I-66.”
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said the express lanes would reduce congestion and increase reliable travel times. “Our goal here is to move more people through the I-66 corridor, and the improvements we’re putting in place today will do just that,” Layne said, according to the news agency.
The Express Lanes will rely on dynamic pricing — tolls will rise based on demand, with rising prices intended to avert some traffic to keep the lanes flowing. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.