Governor Terry McAuliffe joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Department of Rail and Public Transportation, federal, state and local partners, and the Commonwealth’s private partner, I-66 Express Mobility Partners (EMP), to break ground on the I-66 Outside the Beltway Express Lanes Project, which will deliver about $3.7 billion worth of transportation improvements benefiting Northern Virginia’s I-66 Corridor. Governor McAuliffe also announced that construction will be funded completely by the private consortium building the project and that the group has provided nearly $579 million for additional improvements in the corridor.
The project will modify nearly 23 miles of I-66 providing two express lanes in each direction alongside three regular lanes from I-495 to University Boulevard near Route 29 in Gainesville, with dedicated express lanes access points, and space in the median reserved for future transit. In addition, the project consists of 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.
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne commented, “Governor McAuliffe charged me to find ways to unlock gridlock on I-66, and there is no better example of how we are doing that than the I-66 Outside the Beltway Project. The multimodal improvements that will be built along I-66 were made possible by years of hard work and planning, significant public input that helped shape the project, and a collaborative partnership with the private sector. We are eager to officially kick off construction and start delivering tangible solutions that will benefit all travelers on I-66.”
Under a 50-year partnership agreement that protects the public, I-66 EMP assumes responsibility for all costs to design, build, operate and maintain the 66 Express Lanes. This agreement requires zero public investment and 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. The project’s financial close was reached on November 9, securing the funding necessary to move forward.
To further complement the I-66 Express Lanes, I-66 EMP also will award the Commonwealth a payment of $578,919,450 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.
Initial construction will begin on the project before the end of the year. By the spring of 2018, construction will be ramped up throughout the entire corridor. A dedicated website, Transform66.org will provide regular updates through news and social media channels, as well as direct outreach to local communities and stakeholders, will be among the channels used to keep the residential and traveling public informed about construction activities, and prepared for traffic changes and potential impacts.
The express lanes are scheduled to open by the end of 2022. Key interim improvements are scheduled to be delivered ahead of 2022, such as more than 900 new commuter parking spaces by the summer of 2019, and improvements to the busy Route 28 involving the removal of traffic signals by the summer of 2020.
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, VA. The express lanes project will reduce congestion, provide new and reliable travel choices, new commuter parking and bus service, and greater connectivity to major destinations along the I-66 Corridor.