Tolls on I-66 inside Capital Beltway approved

Single drivers who travel Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway during peak hours will soon pay tolls. 

The Commonwealth Transportation Board today approved a measure that allows for the collection of tolls on that stretch of the highway starting in 2017. 

Here’s more from today’s announcement from state officials: 

The CTB approved an agreement with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), in which the Virginia Department of Transportation will deliver and manage the tolling operation, and the NVTC will invest toll revenues in multi-modal improvements to directly benefit users of the corridor.   Last week, the NVTC approved its part of the agreement to invest toll revenues.

The expected benefits of the project include the following:

– Reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay a day by 2040

– Move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor a day by 2040

– Provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction

– Provide increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers and transit users

Tolling I-66 inside the Beltway has been a contentious topic over the past three months. Residents, and a majority of elected GOP officials spoke out about the plan to toll inside the Beltway and said it would be an unfair tax on commuters. 

Tolls will be charged during peak times, according to state officials: 

Project description:

– If you carpool today (two or more people in a vehicle), you will continue to ride the lanes for free when dynamic tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017 during morning and evening rush-hours (5:30 am to 9:30 am eastbound and 3 pm to 7 pm westbound).  Solo drivers can ride the lanes in exchange for paying a variable toll based on the distance they travel. Average toll is expected to be $6 a trip.   

– In 2020, lanes will be free to vehicles with three or more people during rush-hours (carpoolers, vanpools and buses) and motorcycles per adopted regional policy.  All others will pay a variable toll.

– The lanes will remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods.  There will be no tolling in the reverse commute.

– All of the revenues raised from the tolls will finance transportation improvements in the corridor.  Estimated toll revenue in 2018 is $18 million.

– Should traffic not flow better in five years, toll revenues will be used to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston.

The new rule approved today allows money generated from tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway to be spent on a variety of transportation improvement projects. 

Virginia State Senators Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun) and Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) told Potomac Local today that money should only be used to widen and improve I-66 inside the Beltway.

Both issued these statements in a press release:

“It’s common sense that the tolls paid by drivers should go to road congestion improvements first” Senator Wexton said from her law office in Leesburg. “Commuters need congestion relief now so they can spend time with their families and not stuck in traffic.”

 
“What happens inside the Beltway should stay inside the Beltway; if commuters pay a toll on I-66 inside the Beltway then it should used to improve that stretch of highway — not somewhere else,” Senator Petersen said from his law office in Fairfax City.
Arlington residents have long opposed widening I-66 inside the Beltway.

 

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