I-66 Spot Improvements Blocked
A vote by the region's Transportation Planning Board this afternoon removed the spot improvements along Virginia's Interstate 66 inside the Beltway from consideration for federal funds, blocking one of the region's largest and most contentious programs to expand highway capacity.
The rejection by the planning board came on a rare weighted vote, which basically pitted the populous inner jurisdictions in the Washington region against the less-heavily populated outer suburbs. The motion to reject was made by Chris Zimmerman, a member of the Arlington County Board and the Metro Board, as well as the regional planning body. Arlington County residents have led the opposition to the expansion of the Interstate's capacity.
Zimmerman's resolution demanded that the I-66 project proceed no further until Virginia completed a thorough review of all ways to improve transportation within the highway corridor. Jo Anne Sorenson, representing the Virginia Department of Transportation on the board, said that even if there was money for a comprehensive study, it would take three or four years to complete.
What angered Zimmerman and some other supporting his resolution is that they felt that a previous resolution by the planning board had mandated that a study of alternatives proceed along with the highway expansion study. They were not satisfied with Sorenson's statement that a state study about the feasibility of bus rapid transit was underway.
After a standard poll of the board members present resulted in a tie, Zimmerman exercised his option of requesting the vote weighted by population, on which his resolution passed.
Commuters who live in Virginia's outer suburbs have long called for expansion of I-66 inside the Beltway. During rush periods, the highway is choked, even though it is governed by high-occupancy vehicle restrictions, requiring that most drivers have at least one other person in the vehicle is they are heading in the peak direction.
Arlington residents, many of whom didn't want the highway built through their neighborhoods in the first place, have been equally adamant in opposing expansion plans. State officials pursued a plan to extend travel lanes in three sections in part because they could do so without widening the highway's right of way.
Opponents say this method of expanding capacity simply moves the highway's choke points. Vehicles may be able to take advantage of a widened highway for a short stretch, but they still must move back into the old travel lanes where the spot improvement ends.
Posted by: ssolomo | February 18, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rtthomson1 | February 18, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: thetan | February 18, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rbowley | February 18, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ceefer66 | February 19, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Clover1 | February 19, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: obviousNESS | February 19, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gLo1 | February 20, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: allenmuchnick | February 24, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: allenmuchnick | February 24, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: allenmuchnick | February 24, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.