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I-66 paving planned

I've got my own comment to add to our posting inviting your input on Virginia's draft plan for transportation improvements: There's a highlight in there for Interstate 66 drivers outside the Capital Beltway.

It includes money to resurface the deteriorating pavement on I-66 between Route 50 and the Beltway, a distance of 5.6 miles. Drivers routinely write in to me and tell me that dealing with the traffic congestion near the Beltway is bad enough, but that pavement! It's just ghastly.

A resurfacing has been on Virginia's wish list for a while, but there's been no money. That's become a chronic condition for transportation projects in both Virginia and Maryland.

But the I-66 paving probably will become one of the many road projects in the region to use federal stimulus money, about $42 million in this case. Total expenses are likely to be about $70 million.

Joan Morris, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, tells me that the project includes full-depth patching of damaged portions of the concrete pavement, and then overlaying the pavement with asphalt. That should provide additional strength and durability, she said.

As long as the Commonwealth Transportation Board approves the plan -- something that is quite likely -- VDOT hopes to request contractor proposals for the work in September and begin construction in 2011.

The work will take two full construction seasons, putting the completion at the end of 2012 or early in 2013, Morris said. She said she knew that would set motorists to groaning, so she added that VDOT plans to do all the work from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Two of the four lanes would be open during that night work to minimize the impact on traffic. That section of the interstate is used by 180,000 vehicles a day.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 20, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Construction , Driving , highways  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, VDOT  
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The road is horrible and badly needs to be resurfaced. BUT one thing that gives me pause is the comment about using asphalt (black pavement). While I usually prefer asphalt because it's smoother and quieter, the concern I have on I-66 outside the Beltway is with the "shoulder lane" denoted by the red "X" or green arrow. When the shoulder was converted to a part-time lane, VDOT made a big point about how it was going to be asphalt (black) so as to set it apart visually from the other lanes paved in concrete (white), with the idea being that it would help underscore that there was something special about that lane. This was done in part because of VDOT's experience with a "shoulder lane" on I-95 south of Newington, where the shoulder was the same asphalt surface as the rest of the road and a guy whose car broke down got killed when a tractor-trailer, driving illegally in the shoulder lane, flattened his car.

Paving all of I-66 the same will make for a much smoother ride but will make it harder for someone not familiar with the road to recognize that there's something different about that lane.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 20, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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