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New I-66 lanes opening

The Interstate 66 widening project in Gainesville is set to open all four of the westbound lanes in their new configuration next Thursday afternoon, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. Drivers will then have three regular lanes and one HOV lane from the 234 Bypass exit (Exit 44) through the Route 29 Gainesville exit (Exit 43).

This is part of the project that was stymied for a while by lack of funds for the overall congestion-relief effort. Then VDOT split it up into more manageable segments. Travelers often asked why the first phase of the widening in 2006 hadn't pushed through to Gainesville. The answer was that the state didn't have the money to do it at that point. It just built what it could afford.

Upcoming
The opening of the westbound configuration won't mark the end of the work. VDOT says the final asphalt paving on the interstate and its ramps will start in mid-April when the temperatures are high enough to allow it. The paving will be done one lane at a time, with lane closings during the day.

To accommodate the traffic shift into the new pattern next Thursday, VDOT will close two westbound lanes on I-66 from 9 p.m. Wednesday to about 1 p.m. Thursday. During that time, the new pavement markings will be applied and the new lanes tied into the four lanes currently available at Exit 44, thanks to the earlier phase of the widening.

Detours
Here are some options for getting around the westbound congestion that is likely to result from the work on Wednesday night and early Thursday.
-- Use Exit 47B to 234 Business north, then turn left onto Route 29 north though the Manassas Battlefield.
-- Use Exit 47A to 234 Business south, then turn right onto Balls Ford Road and Wellington Road to Gainesville.
-- Use Exit 44 to 234 Bypass south, then turn right onto Balls Ford Road and Wellington Road to Gainesville.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 18, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  Congestion , Construction , Driving , highways  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, I-66  
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Comments

What a waste. Want to relieve congestion, without bankrupting the Commonwealth? Don't make it cheap and easy for people to move to Gainesville by subsidizing their public works.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | March 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Who are these people who think they are too good for the tenements?

Posted by: corrections | March 18, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad this is being finished now, in advance of the new speed limit law taking effect on July 1. Hopefully that stretch will be posted at 70 mph. All of I-66 from US-50 at Fair Oaks Mall west to I-81 ought to be posted at 70, but the odds of the portion between US-50 and VA-234 Business (which currently has a 55-mph limit east of US-29 and a 60-mph limit west of there) seems unlikely to be raised simply because if the limit isn't already 65 I find it hard to imagine VDOT considering posting 70.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 18, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Good place for a map.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 18, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"Who are these people who think they are too good for the tenements?"

You mean Georgetown or the Watergate? Or some other place in the District?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 18, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"Who are these people who think they are too good for the tenements?"

Live wherever you want, Jethro. The city or inner suburbs aren't for everyone. Just stop using VDOT's Visa card to pave your way to Dollywood like it's manifest destiny to build everywhere. Taking advantage of subsidized construction of roads and utilities to the outer rings of new suburbia isn't a "right". Welfare handouts don't just come by check, they come in asphalt form as well.

I sympathize with folks who move to Gainesville because our housing lending practices are messed up, and I think folks who "have" to move to Gainesville far outweigh those who actually want to. Let's stop feeding the beast, and steer the incentives toward smarter development patterns.

Posted by: TheBoreaucrat | March 18, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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